Hispanic Community Fundraising

Following the earthquake in Mexico in September, ISA’s Hispanic community came together to raise funds to help those affected by the disaster.

A key aspect of the fundraising efforts was the Hispanic Community Solidarity Breakfast held on November 1st. The breakfast was kindly supported by the Mexican embassy, who loaned the decorations and sent their representative, Mr. Jorge Delgado Sumano, to speak at the event. The breakfast was a great success, selling over 220 tickets and attracting a large crowd.

The Hispanic Community Solidarity Breakfast. Credit: Olga Bolhuis.

Both the Upper School and the Lower School held bake sales to raise funds. Staff, parents and students across the school worked tremendously hard to make these sales a success. The Upper School bake sale alone raised €548.35, a fantastic achievement that the students can be proud of.

As a result of the combined efforts of the solidarity breakfast, the upper and lower school bake sales and personal donations, the Hispanic community raised a fantastic total of €3834.65.

The funds will go directly to UNICEF Mexico, an organisation who specialise in relief efforts for children and families in the hardest hit regions of disaster, providing them with lifesaving resources. This is a fantastic example of how our ISA community can come together to do something truly amazing.

Some of the ISA community. Credit: Olga Bolhuis.

 

Written by Megan Amelia

A Meet and Greet with Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation

Yesterday, bestselling author Jean Kwok visited ISA for a meet and greet session with grades 10, 11 and 12. It was a wonderful opportunity for a few of the ISA Upper School students, some of whom are studying Jean’s internationally successful novel Girl in Translation as part of their English B course, to ask in-depth questions about the book and the author’s life.

Jean Kwok visits ISA.

As a follow up to the formal meet and greet sessions, four students were given the opportunity to attend a small, intimate lunch with Jean as a reward for their hard work and to ask her questions about her twin passions–writing and dancing. Having all danced from a young age, three of the students discovered that Jean shared their passion and gained insight from her about the competitive nature of professional ballroom dancing.

For most ISA students, Jean is a highly relatable figure. A Chinese immigrant to the US at the age of five, Jean left behind everything she knew at home and arrived into a whole new world, with an alien language and culture. Not only did the students have a chance to learn more for their coursework, but they also received some powerful and inspiring life advice from Jean.

Jean began by telling the story of her own life and the extent to which Girl in Translation is based on reality. She discussed her experience as an impoverished immigrant in the US, where her entire family worked in a clothing factory for as little as 1c per piece of clothing they produced. She described feeling ‘all wrong’, with her handmade clothes and short hair, which left her feeling isolated and an outsider to American culture. This is reflected in her protagonist Kim’s own feelings in the novel.

The picture of squalor Jean paints in her book, including the apartment ‘from hell’, filled with roaches and rats, where Kim and her mother have to ‘seal the windows in the kitchen with garbage bags’ for ‘a bit more protection from the elements’ is absolutely true to life, Jean explained.

Before meeting Jean, it might have been easy  for the students to dismiss Jean’s experiences as unique or rare, or to argue that times have changed since her childhood. However, with an estimated 170 million children across the globe still engaged in child labour, with many of these employed in the clothing supply chain, Jean’s emphasis that ‘this can and does happen’ certainly remains pertinent today. She explained that her work is for people without a voice; for the working-class people who don’t have their stories told.

What was really striking about Jean’s talk was her passion and enthusiasm, not just for writing, but also simply for life. Jean argued that while hard work itself is not fun, the deepest happiness comes from the knowledge that you are fulfilling what you were meant to do, to the best that you can do it. Everybody fails at things, she said, but success comes from resilience; successful people are the ones who get back up again. Her most powerful advice to the students: you’re the only one who can give up on yourself.

 

Further Reading

To find out more about Jean, you can visit her website: http://www.jeankwok.com/

https://labs.theguardian.com/unicef-child-labour/

http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—ipec/documents/publication/wcms_221513.pdf

 

Written by Megan Amelia

Grade 9 Students Visit Kamp Westerbork Memorial Centre

On Thursday 12th October, 2017, Grade 9 travelled to the Kamp Westerbork Memorial Centre, in the province of Drenthe. From 1942 to 1944, Westerbork served as a transit camp for Dutch Jews before they were deported to killing centres in German-occupied Poland. As such, this is a highly significant historical site. Students were given a tour of the site of the former camp by experienced educators and also watched a film which showed rare footage of Dutch Jews leaving Westerbork for Auschwitz.

This visit gave our students a valuable opportunity to gain understanding of the Statement of Inquiry for our current unit ‘Global conflagration in the twentieth century’: ‘When leaders seek power through the choice of isolation and discrimination, this can often lead to significant levels of change and global conflict.’ This visit deepened our understanding of how certain conditions in society may lead to the rise of extreme consequences.

Below are reflections of some of our students, who share the programme for the day and what they learnt about the concepts of isolation, change and choice:

During the Westerbork trip, we walked along the long trail all the way to the camp itself- in a way creating a feeling as if we were the prisoners making the journey, because it was all very isolated and it was a long way there. We listened as a guide walked us through the different parts of the camp and monuments and explained the story behind everything. From this trip, I learned that the Nazis made Westerbork a ‘safer’ place to keep the Jews in comparison to the main concentration camps and Ghettos, because they wanted the Jews to trust that the place that they were going to by train was going to be similar. They held sporting activities, provided entertainment and even had a hospital where they took care of the sick.

After we were done with the tour and had seen the very end of the railroad tracks that are now cut off, we started our walk back. We then saw an image of the whole camp, that was taken at the time of its use, from the same spot we were then standing in and it created an emotional and impactful image in my mind: everything really had occurred here once, and we were standing right on it.  – Elena Chova Badia

We learned why and how Westerbork was used: the role of the camp in the Second World War. It was deliberately placed far away from civilisation to distance the Jews and gypsies from the so-called “pure” nation.  Two memorable moments of the trip were seeing the stone and the railway memorials. The stone memorial was made up of many red blocks in the ground, each with either a Jewish star, flame, or nothing on top. The Jewish stars symbolise the Jews brought to the camp, the flame the gypsies, and the blank stones the ones who resisted. It is a tribute to all who died. The railway symbolised all the train wagons taking Jewish children, women and men to death camps. These were memorable because they were very powerful in their symbolism. – Emma Keerberg

 

I learned that around 100,000 Jews were sent to their deaths from the Westerbork transit camp. I also learned that Anne Frank was imprisoned there at one point and that, strangely, Camp Westerbork wasn’t even the worst of places. Jews were treated decently here but then usually gassed immediately after they arrived at their death camps. A memorable moment was the train which was there. It was calling out all the names of the people who were there and it gave me goosebumps because of how young some of the people were. One story I found interesting was the one about the baby who got very good care, which was most likely expensive, at Westerbork but after being treated well by the German camp commandant was then transported to a death camp and killed. Lastly, the long trip there gave me a sense of how isolated they must have felt for the short period they were there. – Olivier Van Oijen

 

Article by:  Joanne Gogelescu, ISA Individuals and Societies Faculty

ISA Students explore solutions to Global Issues at GIN Conference

From 23-25 March, eight ISA students represented the school at the annual European Global Issues Network (GIN) conference at the Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg. The conference was a culmination of several months of brainstorming, planning and student-led activities aimed at providing a solution to one of the 20 global issues that form the foundation of GIN.

This year’s theme was Facilitating Sustainable Change through Education and Integration. Students developed two projects that demonstrated their practical knowledge of the topic and how to apply their own solution through service in the local community. Both ISA projects explored ways to overcome linguistic barriers when interacting with a local Dutch-speaking environment.

“It was interesting to see which other projects were developed by other schools. It was a good way to learn from others and inspired our groups to look at new ways to develop our projects. I felt very happy with our project after presenting it at the conference,” said Hannah Boyles, one of the ISA students who  attended the conference.

The first project explored the integration of different ISA-related communities through interaction with Art. The group visited De Schakel, an Amstelveen-based activity centre for adults with mental disabilities, where they interacted with a group of painters, and later  visited Klaasje Zevenster, a local elderly centre.

The second project was a collaboration between the ISA GIN students and the independently-run Refugee Buddy Project, which attempts to bridge the gap between the international ISA community and the local refugee community in Amstelveen. ISA students have partnered with refugee students from a local high school for various social activities such as a community concert, a movie night and recently a cooking session at the school.

Another ISA student, Bailey Ransom said the experience was beneficial to all involved because it enabled the international community at ISA to interact with the local Dutch community.

Eight students from ISA travelled to Luxembourg to present at the conference, however there were numerous other students involved in the projects and activities demonstrating the students’ commitment to engaging with their local community and exploring innovative solutions to issues of global importance.

Student creativity shines at Grade 10 personal project exhibition

Grade 10 students delighted parents, staff and their fellow students at the annual MYP personal project exhibition evening on 9 February, 2017.

The Upper School Library was transformed into a modern-day gallery with 95 different projects that included art exhibitions, musical performances, photography and poetry books and projects promoting sustainability.

The personal project at ISA encourages students to take real ownership of their learning. Students are challenged to demonstrate many of the learner profile traits, as well as the approaches to learning skills that they have been exposed to as MYP learners.

MYP Coordinator Paul Griffiths sees true value in the project and the processes the students go through to achieve their final product. “The personal project prepares students for future study and beyond.”

The common theme evident in all of this year’s projects was diversity. “The spread of projects was a true representation of the different learners that make up our 10th Grade student population,” said Griffiths.

In addition to the grade 10 students and their families, grade 9 students also attended the evening giving them excellent insight into the range of potential projects and subjects they can explore in the new year.

Parent Book Club: Discussing the challenges of the college application process

On Thursday, 2 February, the ISA Counselling department hosted its first book club event to explore the challenges that students and parents face when approaching colleges and universities.

The featured book Where You’ll Go is Not Who You’ll Be written by renowned New York Times journalist, Frank Bruni, investigates the ‘college admissions mania’ and provides anecdotes, advice and opinions about the value of a high-pressure university admissions and selection process, with a particular focus on the college system in the United States.

“I found it encouraging to hear parents express their support for their children choosing pathways that lead to a successful, balanced, and productive life following university” noted Upper School Counsellor Frieda Dietrich.

“Caring deeply about what they wanted most for their children, many comments focused on character attributes such as integrity, commitment, humility, ability to deal with setbacks. Things that make a difference in the long term.”

ISA is hoping to hold additional book club discussion sessions throughout the year, so if you are interested please contact Geoff Richman or Frieda Dietrich.

ISA Beach Cleanup a Real Success

via The Lower School News Blog

The ISA Green Team organised a beach clean-up for the first time on Saturday. A group of students, parents and staff participated, bringing together people from across our school. We’d been warned to dress up warm after a windy week and were fully prepared to brace ourselves against the cold.  But we were pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous weather that awaited us on the beach at Zandvoort.  We found a wide variety of objects including a diaper, bottle tops, cans, cartons, plastic bags, straws, socks, string, styrofoam, pieces of glass, buckets, string, an old body-board, a tyre and even a curtain!  

We also visited the Jutters Museum further along the beach which houses a fascinating collection of an even wider range of objects than we’d collected such as pacifiers, slippers, buoys and boat signs. The museum also houses displays of local natural history and creatures from the sea.  

A Spring event will be organised as well. Keep an eye out for more information after the Crocus break.