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Part of the XIS woodshop curriculum is Occupational Character Development (OCD) where woodworking knowledge and skills are used to also develop character traits needed to thrive in the working world. One example is tree growth rings. Lighter, wider rings indicate a good growing season with sufficient rain. Latewood, darker and thinner rings, is formed during a dry hot year and is dense, which strengthens the tree. 

Many years ago my wife and I went to Maui, one of the Hawaiian islands. Our tour guide pointed out a small forest of tall pine trees, he said that Captain Cook planted them to be replacements for masts for his ships in the future. Years later when they came back and cut down the beautiful and tall pine trees, they found them useless. The wood was too soft; they had no latewood because Maui has such a good climate.

None of us like hard and challenging times. Dealing with Covid-related lockdowns, schedule changes, school closures, etc. is difficult. We may even try to protect ourselves and our children from pain and difficulties. In some situations, we should do this, but we should also understand that these difficulties can make us and our children stronger. They make us into people others can depend on in tough times.

One more lesson from trees. I am from California, home to the tallest trees in the world: the Redwoods. Interestingly, they don’t have a deep root system. But they grow in groves, and all these trees’ roots are intertwined. They all help keep each other strong.  The XIS community is like this. Most of us don’t have very deep roots in China but we are rooted here and we are all dependent on each other. This gives us the ability to grow to be the best international school in the world.

Using professional power tools like the table saw, circular saw, and router, our high school woodshop class built trophy cases for our office and gym. They showed great innovation and problem-solving skills to meet the school’s needs. As expected, mistakes were made, but the students were able to shift and make those mistakes into features that enhanced the look and function of the trophy cases.  Currently students are learning to use CAD and CAM software to design woodworking projects and using the CNC router to make decorative clocks. Our middle school students are completing their tool boxes and are also making clocks, by only using hand tools.