Ben Wang - Vermont Commons School Skip to main content

Ben Wang

Encounter Week Co-Director, Chinese Instructor - Appointed 2010

Graduate Degree

  • M.S. Natural Resource Planning, University of Vermont

Undergraduate Degree

  • B.A. International Relations, Stanford University

Inspirational Quote

“Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home.” – Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Interests and Hobbies

  • Irish traditional music, canoeing, backcountry skiing, backpacking, reading nonfiction, trail running, snorkeling, independent travel, family
  • Lots of others on hiatus: dancing, astronomy, drawing, singing, soccer, inline speedskating, meditation

Brief Biography

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to the Philadelphia area for fifth grade, learning English for the first time. At Stanford I became very interested in American perceptions of the Chinese and Chinese perceptions of Americans, and also went backpacking for the first time and fell in love with the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I came to Vermont for graduate school in natural resources, eventually conducting social science research in U.S. National Parks for a number of years. After a nine-month trip in Asia and a stint managing a remote medical clinic project in Tibet, I returned to Vermont, built a relationship with Heather whom I married in 2005 (our son Jesse was born in 2007), and worked on an ESL software project. My focus shifted to teaching Chinese as the demand increased in recent years and I taught the first Chinese courses offered by the Community College of Vermont and Saint Michael’s College. I started at Vermont Commons by developing a 7th-grade course that introduced students to the Chinese-speaking world and world-view, and I slowly fell in love with the community. Over the years I added teaching social studies and directing Encounter Weeks to my portfolio, and those are now my primary focuses.

Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.

Students emerge from their time at Vermont Commons School intrinsically motivated to seek out their role for improving the world, with the skills and competencies to do so.