Previous Non-Academic Projects (2015 - 2020)
2015 - 18: Guqin Teaching
I started teaching Guqin in 2014 as an assistant to my late Shifu (mentor) and started my own school when I arrived in New Zealand in 2015.
At its peak, Harmonious Guqin Studio had around 30 students and staff, its permanent teaching space in central Auckland, and frequently participated in cultural and diplomatic activities organised by the Confucius Institute and The Consulate General of PRC in Auckland.
It was the largest Guqin school in NZ at the time, before I stopped teaching in 2018 and moved on to more academic pursuit.
Performing an original duet arragement with Emily Ai (Cello) at the 65th Anniversary of NZ-China Diplomatic Relationship (2017)
A teaching tool I developed to help students learn the ancient notations (2016)
Interviewed by NZ Chinese TV (2017)
2017 - 21: Educational Projects
I started tutoring around the same time as my blogs in 2017, and developed it into an education career. I tutored privately for Mathematics, Physics, English Literature, and occasionally Geography and Chinese. I had a total of 19 students in 2018-2019, most of them had their grades drastically improved in the short period of time I tutored them.
For Maths tutoring specifically, I insisted on giving tailored homework worksheets to each student according to their topics of focus and past performances. Compiling worksheet for everyone is a big task, so I initially wrote a program in VB.net to automatically compile worksheets for my students and generate step-by-step answers for them.
This program was very helpful in improving the efficiency of my teaching, and indeed led my own Maths teacher to ask if I can develop a public version of the program. Sadly, I wasn't able to effectively lead a team to overcome all the challenges involved in developing a complex commercialised website and the project was thus abandoned. You gotta forgive me, I was 18.
I only really had one student for Chinese Mandarin starting from 2018, with whom I have since become very close friends. I am proud that he is now able to read and write at a very advanced level, and has even developed an intuitive appreciation of classical Chinese poetry and calligraphy. He passed HSK4 (B2 equivalent) and is now attending National Taiwan University's immersive Chinese program.
2018: a 7-day Introductory English for Chinese Speakers (online)
2019: a program where I connected students in China and NZ to help each other with maths and language skills
2019: an "Interest Exploration" course where I coached a handful of students in how to develop their personal interests into professional engagements in the hope that this will help boost their personal convictions and active studentship
2020: a "Cambridge Notebook" course where I presented my notes from Cambridge lectures to audiences in China
2020: a local version of the "Interest Exploration" course in NZ, where I helped four talented younger friends of mine to develop their interests into one-day courses and help them deliver these courses to younger students
2021: a critical thinking course mimicking the Cambridge supervision-style dialogic teaching for Chinese students
2018 NZ Winter Study Tour, where I took four Chinese middle school students into my own school in New Zealand and explored alternative ways of education and learning other than the traditional classrooms.
2019 US East-Coast STEM Summer Camp, where I helped Haiyin Capital to lead a tour in MIT, Harvard, and Yale. I took an approach of encouraging interest development in this tour, and many students reported being inspired to more actively explore their future.
2017 - 21: WeChat Personal Blogs
One of my articles perhaps best summed up my blogging career: These 1000 Days of Writing (link to original in Chinese, WeChat APP has a built-in translation function that works alright).
I know, it's cringe, but that's how I wrote in Chinese. It still haunts me from time to time.
It all started when I was feeling quite lonely as a young international student in New Zealand. Perhaps to give my life some small and certain fulfilments, I decided to challenge myself to post daily blogs for 100 days on WeChat in March 2017.
It wasn't easy; at the end of the 100 days, I wrote an article to summarise my thoughts on this small journey. It was a hit, so I kept on, writing for a total of 1400 days, 200+ special articles, amounting to around half a million words and reaching tens of thousands of Chinese readers around the world. I stopped blogging in 2021 and turned to focus on academics. I wrote more about this transition here.
My most notable pieces were on individual empowerments, usually with a strong relation to my own personal experiences.
I criticised the compliment of "good obeying child" common in Chinese-speaking cultures, and advocated for an education that focuses more on empowering agency and independence, such as through encouraging students' "active reverse managements of teachers" and believing in one's exponential potentials in breaking stereotypes and overcoming comfort zones.
These early writing were criticised by some as "self-help works", to which I have since deeply reflected upon. I saw that my early focus on "self-help" largely ignored circumstantial conditions and systematic injustices, but is perhaps suitable as I wrote from how I tried to navigate my environment despite the surrounding systematic injustices.
My later writings thus became more focused on what parents and communities can do to create a better environment for the child. I don't think we should tell people to just "be better". When it comes to policymaking, we need to improve circumstantial conditions. That being said, if someone comes to you to ask how they can grow, and you shrug and say "well the system is fucked there's nothing you can do", isn't that just plain silly?
2018 - 21: Attending Consumer Electronic Shows
I attended the Consumer Electronic Shows (CES) held in Las Vegas NV for three consecutive years. To gain entry to this industry-delegate-only event, I worked as an industrial interpreter for Haiyin Capital (NY), who organised tours to allow VCs from China to attend the shows every year.
I presented an innovation idea pitch to the Haiyin delegation of 2018 and was awarded a prize of 30,000RMB as Best Presenter. This pitch subsequently received several VC's offers totalling 5 million RMB.
I declined the offer because 1) my idea was not in fact as worthy as the story I told around it, 2) there was a bull market at the time, and 3) I was 16.
Language Exchange Platforms: joining English-speaking and Chinese speaking students to help each other out with languages. This was aborted due to commercialisation difficulties.
Guqin YouTube Channel: I wanted to build a YouTube channel where I post videos of my arrangements of western music on Guqin and also the process of arrangement. I hoped that this might provide better insights for English-speaking viewers about Guqin and its related history. Sadly I couldn't find the time.
Global City Tours: taking students to explore historically significant cities to combine the learning of geography, history, sociology, and art into one activity. Plans were drawn out for London, New York, and Chengdu, but sadly I couldn't find the time.
FoodBox China: replicating the model of HelloFresh and FoodBox (NZ) in China since no similar product exist there, and the new middle class families of China could have the demand for a familial and educational activity such as FoodBox and thus more willing to pay for a premium compared to buying from supermarkets. Aborted due to time and experience constraints.
Paper Tailor: building from the paper-generator spin-off from my tutoring venture, I had this idea where teachers can generate individualised worksheet for students, whose performance will feed back into the system that learns about each student to automatically provide tailored practices. This failed due to technical, managerial, and time difficulties, as well as my realisation that tailoring on the teacher's part is too inefficient, and it's much easier to train the students to become more active in tailoring their own learning...
UniTours: I helped a former student develop this idea where we could help prospective students organise semi-freestyle tours of university campuses by connecting them with current students and a ready-made plan.