The SCIS Culture: Caliber, Care & Chance

By Sponsored, February 22, 2023

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Students are at the heart of learning at Shanghai Community International School (SCIS). SCIS delivers a world-class curriculum through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP), followed by the IB Diploma Programme (DP), challenging and inspiring students, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century.

Known for a culture of extraordinary care, academic excellence and diverse possibilities, SCIS offers individual attention and focus, high international teaching standards, and a competitive as well as a rigorous learning environment designed to bring out the best in students.


The core of the SCIS learning program is its commitment to student development and educational excellence through its curriculum, Schoolwide Learner Outcomes (SLOs), and school mission. SCIS student-centered approach focuses on nurturing students to play to their strengths and become the best version of themselves by providing versatile learning experiences. 

Whether it is in the classroom, through sports, arts or service, SCIS Dragons embrace the culture of excellence, care and opportunities in everything they do. Every day, our students take on personal challenges, construct their own learning and progress along their growth journeys.

But don’t take their word for it; the school invites you to discover the many facets of an SCIS education through the eyes of some of the students who have called SCIS home. SCIS welcomes you to meet Sota, Cindy, Suhani and Lesaan. These four students represent a whole community of successful and self-motivated SCIS Dragons that walk the halls of its campuses daily.

Chasing Possibilities

Sota Yanagisawa, SCIS Class of 2022


SCIS students aspire to discover their passion pathway and embrace their personal potential as they are equipped with the skills to face the challenges of tomorrow. The IB’s focus strives to ensure each child is challenged to unleash each child’s passion through its curricular and extracurricular programs.  

Originally from Japan, Sota Yanagisawa has been at SCIS since Kindergarten, making him a Golden Dragon of 13 years before walking on the stage to receive his graduation diploma! His SCIS adventure culminated with him achieving a perfect 45 (out of a possible 45) in the IBDP and receiving a full scholarship to his university of choice, Purdue University.

A drone enthusiast since a young age, Sota actively delved into his passion, often relating his academic pursuits to the world of flying devices whenever possible.

"I have an extreme passion for drones. I like to design, prototype, build, fly and repair drones. Using my drones, I participated in races and worked as an aerial cinematographer.

"During my DP years, I had to complete my extended essay, Theory of Knowledge (TOK) essay, Internal Assessments (IAs), university application essays, and CAS while keeping up with my academics.

"What I first did was I tried to make my tasks related to my passions (drones). For instance, my physics IA was about drone motors.”


Sota, is just one example of the success of the IB Programme and how it prepares students to make practical connections between their studies and the real world. Reflecting on what kept him going, he was quick to thank the support of his teachers.

"I am incredibly grateful for all my teachers. I would often ask many questions outside of class, and all my teachers responded with sincerity. Teachers are eager to see you, and they want you to succeed!

"I am attending Purdue University for Aerospace Engineering with a full scholarship from the Yanai Tadashi Foundation! Currently, I am in the First Year Engineering program, where all freshmen in the College of Engineering are enrolled.

"From sophomore year, I will be pursuing aerospace engineering."

Eventually, Sota hopes to make a career in aerospace engineering.

"Within aerospace engineering, there is aeronautical engineering, which focuses on flight in the air, and astronautical engineering, which focuses on space. 

"I am still undecided on which to pursue, but Purdue University is one of the best universities for both aeronautical and astronautical engineering."

Striving for Excellence

Cindy Chen, SCIS Class of 2020


Students at SCIS are given a unique, challenging and diverse educational experience where they are encouraged to think critically and solve complex problems, building a healthy appetite for learning and excellence.

And Shin (Cindy) Chen’s hunger for academic excellence during her 14 years at SCIS led her to finish with a perfect IB score in May 2020, an incredible 45 out of 45. As a golden dragon, Cindy has proudly called SCIS home since joining the community in 2006 in Pre-Kindergarten. Today, her drive and motivation have taken her all the way to her dream school at the University of Cambridge.

"I’ve been at SCIS for almost my entire academic life, so it’s home to me, and where I’ve had so many memorable and fond 'firsts.'

"SCIS is where I learned to read, write, draw, and play guitar. It's where I learned to swim and eventually won my first-ever competition.

"SCIS is where I made my first profit selling nail polish on my 4th grade market day and decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur one day.

"SCIS is where I had my first fight, attended my first middle school dance, participated in my first Water House game (Dodgeball), applied for my first internship, led my first club (Interact), and hosted my first community event (Heart of Stars).

"Lastly, SCIS is where I got to meet the most incredible people I've ever known, and I am going to miss it so much."


During her final years at SCIS, Cindy nurtured her curiosity by becoming President of the Interact Club where she led and organized a student talent show, capturing individuals from international schools across Shanghai to take center stage. The completely student-led fundraiser event, Heart of Stars, successfully raised RMB33,000 through Cindy’s determination and grit.

Currently, Cindy is staying motivated to succeed as she is studying Psychological and Behavioral Sciences.

"As of right now, I hope to become a psychiatrist and join Doctors Without Borders to bring mental healthcare to victims of conflict.

"I also picked this major because I think it is broad and applicable to so many other fields that I’m interested in."

Global Citizens

Suhani Chawla, SCIS Class of 2024


While Suhani has always felt strongly about problems that face the world, it was her Grade 8 Individuals & Societies class that prompted her to think of the big picture and about how she can make a difference. That year, she created a game to promote sustainability through a vegan diet. She ultimately led the game at an assembly for the entire Upper School.   

Suhani has spent the last two summers thinking about things she, and her classmates can do to have an impact locally in Shanghai and in China. She has been working with Heart-to-Heart, a non-profit agency, by selling stuffed animals and visiting children in the playroom before and after their life-saving heart surgeries for congenital heart defects.

Through her connection with these children and her interest in helping them, Suhani designed her Middle Years Programme Personal Project around knowing more about the ways Heart-to-Heart helps children.  

She is currently designing a three-part project to help the agency raise funds and awareness for the children while also working hard for her IBDP Grade 11 requirements.

Suhani’s short film was recently awarded “Highly Commended” at the 2022 Shanghai Student Film Festival. Her documentary voiced the issue of Chinese children who suffer from congenital heart defects and the foundation that financially supports them, Heart to Heart.


With community awareness being a core area of the curriculum at SCIS, students develop into responsible global citizens and confident contributors to the world around them.

"My interest comes from the fact that other people’s struggles are beyond their control and therefore, as a community, we should help as much as possible to bring joy and happiness all around us."

Having been a part of several gatherings that spread awareness about issues facing the world today, Suhani is looking forward to hosting a summit at SCIS for students in the Shanghai area who are interested in making a difference to gather and share ideas.

While still in the early planning stages, Suhani’s passion for serving her community and advocating for service is likely to have a reach well beyond the summit.


Lesaan Lotfi, SCIS Class of 2023


Extending beyond classroom walls, the co-curricular program at SCIS provides extensive enrichment opportunities for students to explore their talents, develop new skills and extend areas of interest, in a supportive and engaging environment. 

Lesaan’s passion for film was ignited at his previous school in Nanjing. Once he arrived at SCIS in Grade 10, he felt a much greater connection to the art and skill of film production and wanted to be as involved as he could in the process.

Lesaan was especially inspired by his Grade 10 Media class, a class he truly enjoyed.

"The class provided me the opportunity to work on lots of short exercises – which required me to have a great deal of skill and to work quickly."

Lesaan felt that the challenge of both knowing what to do and organizing his time to ensure the work gets done was what continued to draw him to film production. 

About a year ago, Lesaan sent a message to a popular local musician asking if he wanted to work together to create a music video. The video, which Lesaan and a friend from Nanjing created together, has sparked an intensive and ongoing entry into film production in China.

When he began shooting that video, he realized that he “had no idea what he was doing and shot for 5 hours straight, but only ended up with about 5 seconds of usable footage.” Looking back at that project, Lesaan recognizes that it is the film he put more time and energy into than anything else to date.


Since that time, he has created several other music videos, one of which was played on a popular television show and has garnered even more attention and interest in his work.

He has found that his passion has helped him work through the language barrier when creating films.

"Since we are all interested in the same thing and have the same vision, it doesn’t even matter what language we are speaking."

Lesaan engages with his passion away from school and credits the support he has from his teachers as a further motivator. He knows that he has a lot on his plate but is appreciative of the connections he has made while honing his interests, and he is excited to "make something more impactful."

Students at SCIS have passions in a variety of areas that are honed and supported by the school community. From robotics to creating films, our students can find and explore their passions with faculty who understand, appreciate and support them. This is SCIS.

SCIS Open House

The Shanghai Community International School (SCIS) is committed to provide a truly international environment and experience through which everyone has the opportunity to challenge the status quo.

This Spring, SCIS welcomes you and your family to one of the SCIS Open Houses on Friday, March 10. This is a great opportunity to learn about the rigorous IB education, the family-friendly atmosphere, the depth of diversity, and the community-centered institution. 

Register today and find out how your child can thrive in a world-class international environment at SCIS. 

Scan the QR code to sign up. Limited seats apply.


Discover more about the SCIS culture at the Open House on March 10th, 2023. Limited seats apply.


SCIS. Exceptional Experiences.

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