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Ben Wang

Encounter Weeks Director, Chinese & Social Studies Instructor - Appointed 2009

Graduate Degree

  • M.S. Natural Resource Planning, University of Vermont

Undergraduate Degree

  • B.A. International Relations, Stanford University

Activities in College

  • Associated Students of Stanford University, Senator
  • Cast of Evita production
  • News reporting internship in Hong Kong
  • Overseas study and extensive travel in China
  • Undergraduate Chinese American Association, volunteer coordinator
  • Wilderness Skills group (backpacking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing)
  • Summer Symphony
  • Association of Asian American Students

Best VCS Moment

A student said recently: “When I went to study for the test, I found out that I already knew everything without knowing that we learned it!” I felt like a rock star.

Inspirational Quote

“Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home.” – Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Interests and Hobbies

  • Irish traditional music, canoeing, backcountry skiing, backpacking, armchair politics
  • Lots of others on hiatus: dancing, astronomy, drawing, singing, trail running, snorkeling, travel, soccer, inline speedskating

Brief Biography

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to the Philadelphia area for fifth grade, learning English for the first time. It took a few years to adapt to the new language and culture. I finally became confident in high school, participating in many extracurricular activities. At Stanford I became very interested in American perceptions of the Chinese and Chinese perceptions of Americans, and I majored in International Relations with a focus on Greater China. I also went backpacking for the first time and fell in love with the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I shifted my academic focus and came to Vermont for graduate school in natural resources, eventually conducting social science research in the U.S. National Parks for a number of years. After a nine-month trip in Asia and a stint managing a remote medical clinic project in Tibet, I returned to Vermont, built a relationship with Heather whom I married in 2005 (our son Jesse was born in 2007), and worked on an ESL software project. My focus shifted to teaching Chinese as the demand increased in recent years and I taught the first Chinese courses offered by the Community College of Vermont and Saint Michael’s College. I started at Vermont Commons by developing the 7th-grade course that introduced students to  the Chinese-speaking world and world-view, and I slowly fell in love with the community. It had been a privilege to independently create course curriculum in such a supportive and vibrant environment. I continued to work as hard as I could to build the Chinese program at VCS and took every opportunity for professional development. In addition to attendance at national and regional conferences, in 2011 I was selected to participate in the Chinese Pedagogy Institute at Indiana University. 2013 was a big year for me at VCS: I completed my first training in Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) and piloted the method in my classes during 2013-14. During the same year I became the school’s first Director of International Programs and traveled to China to establish sister school relationships. Also in 2013 I started applying my National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) training and outdoor experiences by focusing on wilderness Encounter Weeks.

Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.

At Vermont Commons School, our goal is to engage students with their world. We achieve this through programs and a curriculum grounded in local and global involvement.