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Meet Teresa Tung, Secondary School Principal at Hong Kong Academy

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

In this series of Education Matters we catch up with Teresa Tung, Secondary School Principal at Hong Kong Academy (HKA) to learn more about the Global Citizen Diploma (GCD). The concept of global citizenship is woven into the fabric of the school, and HKA is the only educational institution in Hong Kong to have this unique offering.

Can you tell us more about yourself and how you ended up at Hong Kong Academy (HKA)?

As an international school educator and leader, I believe deeply that education is the key to creating a more equitable and sustainable world. Prior to joining HKA, I served as the inaugural Global Citizen Diploma coordinator at my previous international school in Bangkok, Thailand. When I learned about HKA through attending professional development at the school, I could feel its commitment to inclusion and fostering global citizenship, which speak directly to my values as an educator. So, when the opportunity came up to join HKA, I jumped at the chance.

What is the history surrounding the Global Citizen Diploma (GCD)

The Global Citizen Diploma Program was founded at Yokohama International School Japan in 2011. It provides students with a framework for reflection on who they are, what their passions are and what they value, allowing students to tell their own stories through their individual growth.

Can any school offer GCD?

To date eight global schools are part of the GCD consortium, with four of these schools based in Asia: HKA Hong Kong, NIST International School Bangkok, Yokohama International School Japan, and Nanjing International School Nanjing, China. The four additional schools are located in the UK, US, Uganda, and Brazil.

There is a thorough process for schools to join the consortium, as it is essential that schools have the alignment of values, commitment, and capacity to implement the GCD. While the GCD is a programme and offers an additional qualification for students, the consortium provides much more value to a school community than that. The schools in the consortium meet regularly not only to support the administration of the GCD, but more importantly to foster and develop ideas of how to best embed and develop global citizenship in each of our unique communities. All GCD schools are deeply committed to elevating student voice and leadership in telling their stories as unique individuals. Through events like the annual GCD Up Conference that teachers and students participate in together, schools that offer the GCD add value to one another and improve the student experience across the consortium.

Tell us a bit more about the structure of GCD within HKA

HKA introduced the GCD to students in 2016. There was a rapid adoption of the programme, and today it is a requirement for graduation at our school. HKA is the only school that runs the program in Hong Kong which is solely for those students attending HKA.

All graduates of HKA earn the GCD Certificate, and also have the option of pursuing the additional two levels of recognition (Diploma and Diploma with Distinction). The Certificate signifies a commitment to the values of global citizenship through core values and can be obtained prior to graduating. The Diploma is the undertaking of further elements of core values and competencies, while the Diploma with Distinction includes areas of expertise and signifies achievement above High School expectations.

The GCD is earned by students by curating a portfolio that tells their unique story as a global citizen. These portfolios encompass evidence and stories of the three Core Values of Global Citizenship: Intercultural Communication, Community Engagement and Global Understandings. These Core Values reflect an understanding of others, awareness, action,

and advocacy. In addition, the portfolio highlights each student’s individual combination of

competencies that shape what they contribute to the world.

Here at HKA, students do not follow a linear progression in how they develop as global citizens or how they curate their GCD portfolio. Rather, each student’s story is unique to their individual journey. In many ways, this parallels the HKA academic program in which students have a broad and balanced educational program in Grades 9 and 10 following the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and then become more specialised in Grades 11 and 12 in the courses they select and the projects they pursue.

How do you decide which pathway the child takes as part of their GCD?

In order to benefit each individual child and their post-secondary education goals, we look at what is going to open the most doors and opportunities and advise accordingly for the individual student. Starting in Grade 9, HKA students are introduced to a wide range of post-secondary options available around the world. In Grade 10, students begin to narrow down areas and programmes that appeal to them and we engage with each family to support students in considering what might be the best fit course selections that align with these interests and aspirations. Through Grades 11 and 12, we offer workshops on completing university applications, writing personal statements, requesting letters of recommendation as well as guiding them through the application process specific to each region or country. The GCD portfolio is built from G9 through 12, so the students are developing it synchronously as they develop their post-secondary plans.

To graduate from HKA students must complete the HKA Diploma, which is a credit-based high school credential as well as the GCD certificate. The majority of our students also opt to take the IB Diploma or IB courses therefore the majority graduate with three qualifications.

What are the GCD benefits?

Whilst we know that qualifications are valued by universities and employers alike, our goal is more than a student being able to list another credential on their resume. Their participation in the GCD programme challenges each student to develop and express their identity and values beyond traditional academics. To know what they want for themselves and how they can act as responsible global citizens who positively contribute to society.


Hong Kong Academy is an all through school based in Sai Kung, Hong Kong offering the IB curriculum for children from 3-18 years of age. To find out more about Hong Kong Academy or to visit the school, contact them here


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