Emma Wong, one of the few Chinese students accepted to Stanford this year, touched the Stanford Admissions team, and many other universities, with her belief that music can raise awareness and can encourage everyone to connect and help a common cause.

For her Personal Project, a requirement in the IB programme to assess a student’s research, communication, critical and creative thinking, she explored how she could use her passion for music to raise awareness for the refugee crisis.

Her project and its goal of raising awareness for the plight of refugees worldwide was a success; she first wrote a song on Syrian refugees - the lyrics inspired by interviews she conducted with them, performed the song at the Personal Project Exhibition and ultimately uploaded it online for all to see.

In the end, many offered their assistance to her cause, either financially or ideologically, giving her the opportunity to advocate for some non-profit organizations in Hong Kong that work with asylum seekers.

This inspired her to further explore this issue. During her time as a DP student in Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA), a through-train bilingual IB school in Hong Kong, she gathered more research and learned that the acceptance rate for asylum seekers in Hong Kong is below 1% and that made her interested in refugee law to further help those in need.

She believes that her IB education at VSA, which started since kindergarten, gave her the drive to take initiative in global matters.

“We are always taught to look beyond what we are ‘told to learn’ and immerse ourselves into other cultures." says Emma. CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) trips are a part of the IB programme for students to develop a greater sense of international mindedness and social responsibility.

For her CAS trip one year, Emma initiated a trip to Cambodia where she and her classmates worked to connect local villages with one another by building physical bridges out of wooden planks; from cutting down trees to creating the planks, sawing the wooden steps, building the handrails, all of which the students had never done before.

She led her peers to step out of their comfort zones and to take risks in the unfamiliar surroundings. Together they were able to achieve their goal of making an impactful difference in the Cambodian villagers’ lives. Earlier this month, Emma started her classes in Stanford and began her studies towards becoming a lawyer for international refugees.

‘I want to encourage Hong Kong teenagers to rise onto the world stage to help with the global crises we face today.’ says Emma. She believes that to be equipped to do so, high-quality education is important.

She credits VSA and its teachers for encouraging students to be global citizens and leaders and she is grateful for the university counselling support she received while there, leading her to Stanford University.

The school is supportive of Emma’s aspirations and provided her with a scholarship to study Ethics as an undergraduate at Stanford, before proceeding to a law degree. “Emma embodies the IB spirit, in particular that she is balanced, caring, and highly principled.

She is an outstanding student and leader, but also a talented musician. She is a perfect match for an ethics programme at such a prestigious university. I have no doubt that she will flourish there and go on to making a positive impact in our world.” says Secondary School Principal, Mr. Christopher Coates.