Blending a Chinese Mindset, Western Education and a MIT Hackathon Win

Interview date:

May 12, 2020

Tracy Qian

Engineering Student
University of Toronto

Tracy Qian, a first-year Engineering student at the University of Toronto, discusses her experience of blending study and real-world learning. She talks about entering a MIT COVID-19 hackathon on her own in early 2020 and going on to lead the winning team.

She contrasts her educational experiences in China and Canada and explains the influence that Chinese cultural values play in motivating kids to be successful. Tracy outlines the actions taken by her parents to encourage her interest in science, technology, engineering and math, which included trips to top universities and tech cmpanies around the world.

"The K-12 in China is very intense. In Canada, K-12 is the easy part. People should be spending more time in education to get the most out of it because K-12 is really when you develop your brain, your head, and you are the best at learning."


  • challenge kids to plan how they will pursue hobbies and interests
  • focus on developing study habits early (primary school)
  • take kids on visits to universities and tech companies to inspire them