Boarding students stories: meet Binh

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Binh Li, Vietnam

Binh came to King’s College Saint Michaels in 2013 along with his brother Khoi.  Binh is from Vietnam and ever since he joined Saint Michaels he has been very popular amongst all of his peers.  He can normally be found at the centre of a loud group of students laughing, telling jokes or discussing current music.  Like many Vietnamese students, Binh’s family understood the benefits of studying at a boarding school in England and he and his brother chose King’s College Saint Michaels, a school relatively well-known in Vietnam having educated the son of a former head of state.  The notion of studying in a boarding school in the UK is well established in Vietnam and more and more schools are looking to recruit students from Hanoi or one of its other beautiful cities.

Vietnamese students are often characterised by their strong academic background, and whilst Binh certainly shares this trait, he is also a keen musician and artist and amongst the most creative students at Saint Michaels.  As a boarding school in the UK, one of the values at the core of everything we do is to nurturing each student’s talents and help them achieve their goals.

As a musician Binh has the opportunity to perform in front of the school in our annual talent show and he has also played in some of the local music venues, accompanied by his adoring fans – consisting of many students and a few staff members.  Saint Michaels is a boarding school in England with a long history of musical excellence, having been built originally as a music school in 1856 by Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley, a former Oxford University professor of music.

Although Saint Michaels now focuses on a more academic syllabus, its musical roots mean students are encouraged to continue to develop their musical talent.  For Binh, joining a boarding school in the UK has helped him find the confidence he needed to perform in front of crowds.  Not only has his English improved, but his interaction with his fellow students from all over the world in a small and friendly boarding school in England like Saint Michaels has helped him find his confidence.

“What I like most about Saint Michaels is the atmosphere and the people around as well.  It’s majestically peaceful and it’s a very suitable place to have a study but also have a good time.  I have lots of welcoming and warm-hearted friends that are willing to encourage and share, and I have learnt lots from them, this is the most pleasant thing.  For a musician like me, confidence is always the crucial thing to strive for success. I was unable to achieve this when I was back in Vietnam, but here I’ve found friends like Max and Sulaiman, as musicians we are the same and we have learnt and shared a lot of ideas amongst ourselves. I have never wanted to be a musician more than I want now, and this is thanks to the encouragement I have received.  I wrote my first ever song here at Saint Michael’s, my first step to becoming a singer-songwriter and this is a moment for keeping.

When my brother and I decided to come to a boarding school in Enland we visited a local education agency in Hanoi, the owner recommended Saint Michaels to us as they have had a number of politicians’ sons and daughters study there in the past.  In Vietnam, prestige is very important so we wanted to find a boarding school in the UK which had a history of academic excellence and a good reputation in our country.  When we arrived at the school we received a really warm welcome from the principal and settled in to school life easily.  I expected boarding school in England to be quite a strict and maybe unfriendly place and was surprised at how easy it was to speak with the principal and all of the other staff.  Although you are expected to work hard the teachers are very approachable and are always happy to help.”