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Can your child go to Harvard?

By Michael Murphy | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-15 14:46

When I arrived in Zhengzhou on August 25, 2011, I planned to stay a year. I was going to go back to my comfortable home in the USA and just chalk up another wonderful place I'd been to the more than 20 countries I'd already visited. However, after just one month, my eyes were opened to something that I didn't expect. It has caused me to stay here more than 5.5 years now.

I was working with a company that provides foreign, native English speaking teachers to Chinese schools. This company had a 'cooperation' with numerous schools throughout Henan. I was teaching 20 classes a week at the top middle school in Zhengzhou. Then, they called me and asked me if I wanted more. I said, "Sure. Bring it on. 20 classes a week is easy. I need more."

They first suggested 4 more classes. Then, as I started doing promotional lessons at several schools, that number grew to 12 rather quickly. I was teaching 32 classes a week and delighted to do so. I had a blast (a lot of fun). Students were great and quite receptive to my teaching style. I played my guitar and taught them more than a dozen songs.

At a primary school that was directly affiliated to Zhengzhou University, I was teaching primary school students in addition to 4 classes of students in the Masters degree program at the university. One day, one of the primary school classes was moved to a different classroom onto the campus of the university. There was some kind of testing going on and they needed our regular classroom.

After class that day, a 6th grader stayed and wanted to talk to me. Now, I'd had trouble communicating with the middle school's English teachers. I couldn't imagine such a young student wanting to 'talk' to me, a native English speaking foreigner. His name was Jeremy Hua.

Jeremy did a good job in letting me know that he wanted me to be his English teacher permanently. He told me that his mother was requiring him to learn 20 new English words every day. I was impressed with that and agreed to be his permanent teacher.

Jeremy took my classes every year. He never failed to take my classes and rarely missed a class. He said that his mother insisted that a native English teacher be the only one allowed to teach him. She wanted me. He wanted me. And I certainly wanted to teach him.

After 4 years, I had taken Jeremy as far as I could take him without taking the next step, an advanced step in a Chinese student's English education. It was time to begin preparing him for the SAT. I knew by the time that he started high school that he wanted to study in the USA. His mother had even registered him for summer camp at the famous Choate Rosemary Hall Prep School in Connecticut. It was the same school where President John F. Kennedy and most of his family had attended. It also happened to the high school where Ivanka Trump went.

I was teaching Jeremy SAT English while also preparing him for the TOEFL exam. Then, last year, I had an interruption in my tenure of teaching in China and had to stay in America for six months. There is a law that is rarely enforced in most provinces that require foreigners to 'sit out' six months after they've spent 5 consecutive years working in China. Henan happened to be one of the provinces that required it. Fortunately, my daughter and her husband had come to Zhengzhou and was able to carry on with Jeremy's classes.

In the beginning of this summer, 2017, Jeremy took the SAT soon after he had taken the TOEFL exam. His TOEFL score was 109; good enough to get him into any school in the USA including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford or any other. His SAT score came back at 1520 (out of 1600). This placed Jeremy in the top .25% of all of the 2 million students who took the exam this year. His score is good enough to get him into any school in the USA that he wants to go. And, like Victoria in my other post about amazing Chinese students, he will likely go on a full scholarship. This means that it will cost his family very little for him to attend a top university in the world.

Can your child go to Harvard? The answer is, with the right preparation they can. If students are doing it in Henan, I believe that they can in other parts of China as well.

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