Many people spend their whole lifetime discovering their passion. Some of them spent half and while others acquire it at a very young age. This last one happened with our story’s protagonist, Jan Wostyn, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Hutong School.
It all happened when Jan was just 15 years old. His parents brought back a Chinese newspaper from Hong Kong, after visiting his uncle in the Philippines. Jan was completely mesmerized by the fact that there were more than a billion people out there on the other side on the world for whom reading such unintelligible newspapers was a common daily activity, that he made up his mind that one day he would be able to read such newspapers too!
After studying Economics from the University of Leuven (Belgium), Jan obtained a scholarship from the Chinese government to study Chinese at Central China Normal University in Wuhan. After a full year of intensive Chinese language training, he returned to Belgium to take a one-year fast-track bachelor’s degree in Chinese Studies at the University of Leuven. There, he learned about diverse aspects of China, its history, culture, society, political system, religions, etc. Following that year, he was again selected for a Chinese scholarship to continue his Chinese language and culture studies at Xiamen University and later also at the renowned Fudan University in Shanghai.
Following that, Jan took his Chinese language skills to the professional world and after an internship in Beijing, he co-founded the Hutong School with several like-minded foreign and Chinese partners. The goal of this School has always been to offer life-changing programs to people from all around the world to get their first hands-on experience in the Middle Kingdom, either through Chinese language learning or internships.
About the Hutong School
The school is a Chinese Language and internship provider offering various language immersion and professional development programs. Since 2005, the school has welcomed thousands of students from around the world to its four China locations. Leveraging fifteen years of teaching Chinese, the school has developed a unique 12-level teaching methodology that supports students in tracking their progress and quickly enhance their language skills. Moreover, through the development of its textbook series, interactive mobile app, and global franchise program, it aims to help more and more people learn this increasingly important language no matter their location.
Over the years, for delivering exceptional teaching, the school has been bestowed with That’s Beijing “Mandarin School of the Year”, iStudy “Educational Excellence”, and “Service Excellence” awards.
Promoting China and Chinese Education
During the development stage of Hutong School, back in 2005, the only way for young foreigners to discover China was to go and study at a Chinese University. Valuable as those experiences are, they are not suitable for everyone, as many young foreigners are scared away by the thought of having to learn Chinese characters for four hours a day on a university campus. However, with its programs, the school has made access to China much easier by offering more flexible and tailored programs comprising both language learning and professional experience. Additionally, with the location in the heart of the city, the school focuses more on interactions with Chinese society. Consequently, this enables thousands of eager foreigners to make their first steps in China, seeing China with their own eyes, rather than having to rely on often sensational and biased information on China in Western media.
A Philosophical take on Education
With ‘never stop learning’ attitude, Jan says, “Education is without any doubt the most rewarding field to be active in, which actually makes it very easy to stay motivated and inspire students from all over the world. Education is all about opening eyes and leading people into whole new worlds. It´s about developing potential and changing lives in a permanent way. It´s about planting seeds in barren lands and watering flowers to bloom to full glory. New curious foreigners arrive on a daily basis in China, ready to embark on this journey to discover what is arguably the oldest continuous civilization in the world”.
Keeping Keen Eyes on Current Happenings
Jan keeps himself updated on the current happenings in the Chinese educational sector. He knows that the government invests large sums of money into developing it and improving the education of its citizens across the country. With such a large population, the Chinese job market is extremely competitive, making parents evermore keen to help their children get a step ahead. This has led to the development of a huge private education sector, offering additional tuition in everything from mathematics to English.
Keeping these industry scenarios in mind, the school has shifted from traditional classroom-based learning to hybrid learning. It believes that the development of technology allows for easy access to quality instruction from anywhere in the country. The school also cites that the trend of cultural emphasis on the importance of education will grow and further transform the Chinese education sector. Further, it states, there is no doubt that the booming education sector in China will also bring about new insights and innovations that will spread across the world.