Angelika Lin’s journey to the eye of the storm

She successfully climbed the tallest mountain in Africa. She nearly ran over a holy cow in Palkhel, Nepal, an offense that she half-jokingly claims would have landed her in jail. She visited a Tibetan monk who taught her how to meditate and guided her to a sense of great freedom and enlightenment. Angelika Lin is no ordinary Chinese teacher: she is a daring adventurer.

“I have been to many countries: Jordan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Nepal, India, Tanzania, and the list goes on,” she says with an impassioned smile. “I am trying to experience some of the more exciting and action-based journeys earlier in life so that I can leave the relaxing ones—such as to Australia and some of the beautiful countries in Europe—for when I grow older.”

What motivates Ms. Lin to travel, however, is not so much the destination as it is the invaluable lesson she takes away from each journey. She especially enjoys climbing mountains because trekking improves her concentration and allows her to explore her inner self. She laments the fact that there are so few opportunities for people to examine their own emotional states, and she seeks to separate herself through this pastime.

She recounts one of the most important lessons she has learned from the treks: life is not enjoyable and worth living if one only looks at the summit. The apex, she explains, is often too far away that it is discouraging. Rather, she believes that only by enjoying the sceneries and other beauties throughout the journey will one be able to persevere until the end. In other words, she says, enjoy the moment.

Although she has in large parts stayed steadfast to this principle of appreciating life’s daily joys, she has at times encountered cases in which she let others’ negative perceptions affect her own mindset. She recalls a time when she was trekking in Tanzania with a group of strangers; together on the hike were a mother and son who were full of complaints, constantly pointing out faults in other trekkers, the tour guide, and even the trail itself.

“The son and mom blamed others for issues that arose during the trek, when in reality the problems stemmed from none other than themselves,” she recalls. “I have to admit that their pessimistic attitudes did frustrate me from time to time. However, I was fortunate enough to take away a crucial lesson from this experience: no matter where we go, we will always face obstacles. And when we do encounter a challenge, we must achieve peace with ourselves and face the problem directly, instead of seeking to blame others. In other words, we must walk directly into the storm instead of trying to evade it, because we all know what is waiting for us in the center of the storm: peace.”

In the midst of her lively spirit, Ms. Lin keeps one thing constant in her daily life: her morning rituals. Every weekday Ms. Lin wakes up at 4 a.m. and sits down to say prayers and words of gratitude—simple but routine practices that help her notice the small beauties in life that are often taken for granted. She then proceeds to a concentrated breathing exercise to enhance the clarity of mind.

At the finale of her morning rituals is an hour of yoga, during which she hones awareness of her emotions. Her passion for yoga has triggered some of her students to light-heartedly call her ‘yoga master,’ but her passion goes beyond the physical workout.

“Yoga has certainly helped me mature and strengthen, not only physically but also mentally,” Ms. Lin says. “It is a way for me to express gratitude, practice self-discipline, and explore my mental state. Yoga is, in essence, not an escape from reality, but a step closer into the center of the storm, where all is calm and quiet in spite of the surrounding chaos.”

Beyond multidimensional character, Ms. Lin is also defined by her passion for teaching. She first explored the field during her college years, tutoring her peers in Chinese. Through this experience, she realized the satisfaction of teaching young adults and the importance of noticing students’ strengths and weaknesses to aid their learning in the most effective way possible. With her decision to become a professional teacher, she moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand to teach Chinese and ESL at Prem Tinsulanonda International School. She proceeded by teaching Chinese and Theory of Knowledge at Renaissance College, then Chinese at American International School of Guangzhou, before finally arriving at SIS.

Celebrating her twentieth year of teaching, Ms. Lin finds her experience in the SIS community meaningful and distinct. “Compared to the majority of students I have interacted with in the past, SIS students are exceptionally dedicated to their studies and show a strong will to succeed. The strong passion for learning that I see in many students drives me to put forth as much effort as is needed to meet my students’ eager enthusiasm.”

But her happiness and satisfaction in SIS alone cannot tie down the adventurous spirit that defines her. “Although I love it here, I do not have anything planned for the near future, because I want to take one breath at a time and live every day to its fullest. I want to have faith in my journey and trust that the future will take care of itself as long as I stay true to myself and my purpose in life.”