Yiping Yu describes herself as outgoing. Many would argue that’s an understatement.
This cheerful seventeen-year-old smiles her way through each day, but it’s her maturity, resilience and willingness that drove CGGS to create a new position on the Senior Council – one that is at the heart of our values and history.
Here Yiping talks to us about what she has in common with her position’s namesake, Mother Emily Ayckbowm - the foundress of our School, and what it means to be the first ever Emily Captain.
Moving to Canberra from her homeland China two and a half years ago, Yiping shows steely determination and an intrepid nature, much like Mother Emily and the Sisters of the Church, who set out from England in the late 1800s to establish schools in Australia.
“When I was in Year 6 or 7, I wanted to try a new life," said Yiping. "And with my guardians living [in Canberra] I’m thinking, yeah, maybe it’s time for me to go around and see what’s outside China.”
“Before I came [to CGGS] I didn’t really have a conversation fully with English before. The first day of school was a bit, ‘Oh my gosh’, it’s like guessing what everyone is talking to me. It was a bit of a struggle.”
“But I remember the second day...I sent a message to my family and I said, ‘It’s only my second day and everyone knew my name.’ At that point I started to feel like this is such a good school, with amazing people around me.”
Yiping knows first hand the lengths tutors, Heads of House, teachers and students will go to in order to help new students fit in. And now she’s made it her mission to give back.
“I want to help [new students], because I know it’s really hard to fit in a new environment. It’s really easy to just get in a comfort zone, where we only talk to the person who shares the same culture.”
Signing up for co-curricular activities was one way Yiping made new connections and she encourages every student to do the same - no matter how uncomfortable it might feel to begin with.
“I play the guitar, I did basketball for two years, and I played badminton, and I used to do SwimFit as well. I couldn’t swim before! In PE it was a bit awkward, but I knew I had to have those life skills, so I learnt swimming!”
She is also a member of the Tech Crew and Safe School Committee - a group charged with the responsibility of ensuring their classmates can come to school and feel welcome, safe and supported.
What would she like her legacy to be when she leaves at the end of 2019?
“I want to make the school more involved, everyone in it. And then make everyone feel comfortable and safe. So they can be themselves.”
After Year 12, Yiping hopes to earn a scholarship to study medicine at ANU or Melbourne University. Ultimately she would like to be a surgeon or a dentist, following in her parents footsteps: “My father works in ICU and my mum is a dentist.”
Her bedside manner will, no doubt, be second to none.
Written by Sally Wagnon
Communications and Engagement Manager