On the “Hangzhou Talent Day” held recently, Ms. Jelena Vugdelija, Executive Principal of Wahaha International School, was honored as a “Qianjiang Friendship Ambassador”, the highest award for foreign experts.
Hangzhou “Qianjiang Friendship Award” for foreign experts is the highest honor award given to foreign experts by the Hangzhou Municipal People’s Government for their important role in promoting the economic, educational, technological, and cultural development of the city and for their outstanding contributions to the economic and social development, opening up and exchanges and cooperation of Hangzhou. There have been 7 selections since 2013, with 71 candidates selected. This year, a total of 10 experts have been selected from the city’s key development sectors like digital economy, new material, life health, intelligent manufacturing, etc.
▼ Master in Electrical Engineering
▼ iPGCE University of Nottingham
▼ 15 years of teaching and managing experience
▼ Principal of WBS Middle School for 2 years
It’s a great honor for me to receive a “Qianjiang Friendship Award”, and it means that I, a foreigner, have been accepted, recognized, and noticed by Hangzhou.
I will continue practicing my education concepts, bringing more international educational experience and an inclusive international vision to Hangzhou through Wahaha International School.
Be A Progressive Leader in Education
Originally from Croatia, Ms. Jelena has deeply committed herself to international education since starting her career in education in 2003, mainly focusing on senior and junior high school teaching. Before coming to China, she had worked in Croatia, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, etc., with teaching experience in IB, A-levels, IGCSE Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, General Science, and other subjects, and had taken on positions like Model United Nations Coordinator, Head of House, Deputy and afterward Head of Lower Schol, etc. In 2012, Ms. Jelena Vugdelija became the only educator in Croatia that received a scholarship for teaching from the Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference. All of this made her acutely aware of the fact that we are all part of the “global village”. With an international education background, a great group of many students from all across the world returned to their home countries and contributed to development by putting their experience into practice, and this made Ms. Jelena realize the importance of individual culture and thereby aroused her keen interest in international education, prompting her to devote herself to the undertaking of international education.
Be Firmly Devoted to Education in China
In 2014, Ms. Jelena got an opportunity to work at an international school in Qingdao, China. She was drawn by the long history, rich culture, and magnificent landscapes of China the moment she landed. She was also deeply touched by the brightness and hardworking work ethic of Chinese students as well as the high attention their parents attached to education.
She stayed there for 6 years, with many of her students admitted into some of the world’s top universities like Oxford and Cambridge.
Her stay in Qingdao further enriched her educational experience by integrating Chinese and western cultures and made her realize the infinite potential of Chinese education for development.
She, therefore, made it her mission to pool educational resources from all over the world on top of China’s own abundant resources, expanding the possibilities for educational development for Chinese students.
Further Pursuing Her Dream in Hangzhou
In 2020, she came to Hangzhou and served as Principal of the Middle School at Wahaha Bilingual School Hangzhou. Wahaha Bilingual School Hangzhou’s pursuit of “cultivating international ambassadors” coincided with her own dream of ideal education, and the work environment and learning community of Wahaha enabled her to chase ever higher educational objectives in an innovative and dynamic environment.
During her term of office, she enhanced student behavior management and improved the teaching level of teachers and the academic performance of students. She also maintained friendly and close exchanges with parents and greatly improved the comprehensive quality of students. Everybody adores and looks up to this passionate and enthusiastic foreign principal with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Officially appointed as the Executive Principal of Wahaha International School in the past September, Ms. Jelena will continue to lead the teaching team to closely cooperate with each other, implement the IB concepts and curriculums that integrate China’s local education, support and accommodate the individual development of students from different countries, and thereby cultivating true lifelong learners.
The Story Behind Her Chinese Name, Shen Lu’er
Ms. Jelena’s Chinese name is Shen Luer, comprising “Shen”, which is the surname of Ms. Shen Baoru, Principal of Wahaha Bilingual School Hangzhou, and “Luer”, which means a small deer, as is the meaning of Jelen in Croatian.
The name fits, as Ms. Jelena is just as passionate about Mother Nature as a deer. After work, she enjoys cycling with friends, which is not only a way for her to stay fit but also offers her a window into the local conditions and customs of Hangzhou. On the bank of West Lake, alongside the Nine Creeks, on the bank of Qingtang River…She and her friends have been cycling all over Hangzhou.