The Uncertainty of Flu Vaccines in Korea

There has been a rise in deaths of citizens who recently received the flu vaccine. It is unlikely that the vaccine was the cause of their death, but what is the right course of action of vaccine-providers to ease public concerns?

With each spike in Coronavirus cases, hospitals have been on the verge of overflowing, without enough equipment or rooms for their patients. Now that the Flu Season is underway, South Korean officials are concerned over whether hospitals can handle the influx of flu patients on top of COVID-19 patients. In order to prevent an overload of patients in hospitals, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has started a free flu vaccine program for which 19 million people are eligible (BBC News). However, concerns have been growing over the safety of these vaccines as several deaths possibly linked to vaccination were recorded. As of Friday, October 23rd, at least 48 South Korean citizens have died after receiving a flu vaccine (KBS World Radio). The highest recorded number of deaths that occurred after flu vaccination was six deaths in 2005. However, the number of people being vaccinated in 2020 is much higher, which could be the reason for the sudden spike in deaths (The Korea Times). In addition to the deaths, according to Jung Eun-kyeong, the KDCA Chief, there have been 353 cases of abnormal reactions linked to vaccinations this year. 

Although most of the deaths that occurred were among elderly citizens aged 70 or older, a few of which having underlying health conditions, a 17 year old boy died two days after receiving a flu shot. His vaccine was one of around 5 million doses that had been accidentally exposed to room-temperature. This batch of vaccines was re-collected and tested for quality control, however, the testers found no irregularities or toxic substances in the vaccines. The death of such a young person sparked fears amongst parents who were planning on getting their children vaccination as well. Lim Yi-young, the mother of a four year old son, stated that she was “too frightened to get him the vaccine” after hearing of the recent deaths (The Korea Times).

The KDCA has decided to continue with the vaccination program, assuring the public that there is no definite correlation between the casualties and the flu vaccinations. KDCA officials say that it would be difficult to suspend the program at such a critical time, emphasizing the number of deaths caused by the flu itself each year. However, the KDCA also states that the vaccination will be suspended immediately if any issues are found with the vaccines. On the other hand, the Korean Medical Association (KMA) has a contrasting stance, stating that the government should put the program on hold until the cause of the deaths have been confirmed. According to KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong, confirming the cause of death by conducting autopsies on the bodies would take around two weeks to complete. KMA President, Choi Dae-zip, states that the government should pause the program in order to identify the “cause of the recent deaths and ease the people’s concerns” (The Korea Times). 

Although the beginning of the flu season is a crucial time and the influx of patients could overwhelm hospitals across South Korea, reassuring the public and ensuring public safety is also extremely important. As Jeong Eun-kyeong stated, completing the autopsies and tests would take around two weeks to complete. Following the advice of the KMA, the KDCA should take the time to re-collect the released vaccines and conduct one more quality-control test on all of the vaccines as well as confirm the causes of the deaths. This will ease public panic, allowing more parents and families to feel comfortable getting vaccinated and ultimately having a positive impact on flu cases if completed in a timely manner. 

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: Sam Moqadam/Unsplash

The Power of Anonymity

I mean yes, some of the posts shared on those anonymous platforms may have stated agreeable opinions that deserved praise (seriously); however, it is also the unavoidable reality that those opinions were brought up and voiced under veiled, unknown, figures.

The rise and fall of the Instagram “KIS anon confessions” page or the endless student complaints on the “kisbamboogrove” Facebook page are just some examples that demonstrate the power of anonymity. 

Not only does the mighty power of anonymity allow students who are unable to publicly address their concerns towards our school administration and their peers serve as a tool to express their angers, but it also supplies our student body with a toxicity that is quite frankly, ridiculously amusing. 

The margins of internet anonymity and those impacted by it extend beyond KIS students to pretty much every internet/social media user in the world: 59% of the global population (Statista).

Of course, a side of anonymity allows individuals to voice their opinions without having to fear judgment, but nowadays it seems like this isn’t the most prevalent use of this feature. Instead, anonymity has become a utility that liberates people from fearing the consequences of their words and actions.

I mean yes, some of the posts shared on those anonymous platforms may have stated agreeable opinions that deserved praise (seriously); however, it is also the unavoidable reality that those opinions were brought up and voiced under veiled, unknown, figures.

While South Korea boasts an internet penetration rate (percentage of internet users compared to the national population) of 95.9% compared to the global average of 59% and the largest network of cybercafes, it is no surprise that we are also home to one of the highest teenage suicide rates, the highest online teenage bullying rates, and an extremely ruthless culture of hate comments and celebrity cancellation.

Ask yourself: What do all these statistics have in common? They are all byproducts of toxic online anonymity. The power of anonymity not only staples a mask that molds an unknown identity, but it also breeds a destructive nature that is fueled by the relentless and merciless nature of it.

Let’s remember one thing. Behind every piercing comment and its target are two individual human beings: and you could be either of them. But in reality, most of us are unable to graciously embrace the weight of both these roles.

In my sincerest thinking, I don’t entirely disapprove of criticism itself, as it is an unavoidable phase of the high school and teenage experience. However, I do pause in hesitation when I see individuals abusing the sense of misguided power they gain when hiding behind their screens, spitting comments that they would never dare to express in real life. 

Here’s my not-so-anonymous comment: if you can’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all.

– SJ Yang ‘21

Featured image: Quentin Carnaille/Quentin Carnaille Selected Works

The Perfect Body

Society holds high body standards that pressures girls. This article is will explain the impact of these toxic standards and possible ways to overcome this.

Wake up. Change clothes. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Leave home. This is the standard morning routine for most people, but one step, in particular, tends to take up more time than expected: looking in the mirror. According to the TODAY survey from NBC, most girls spend over an hour a day looking at the mirror. 

While looking in the mirror, millions of thoughts may run through one’s head. Too fat, too skinny, too ugly, too short– there are infinite variations of toxic self-bashing judgments. And the driving motivator behind this is the society’s pressure on girls to have the “perfect” body, effectively damaging their self-confidence.

Such toxic culture obsessed with looks can have a negative impact on one’s career as well. Research shows that skinny girls are more likely to get chosen for a job. 93% of people agree that girls are judged more on appearance than ability. If other people discriminate against girls by their bodies, imagine the psychological effect this has on their self-image? Girls will believe that they are held back because of their looks. Not only does this occur when applying for a job, but it also continues after employment. 

Before posting a photo, editing is an essential step. Nearly 20% of girls admitted that their profile picture on social media is edited to the point where it doesn’t represent them at all. Editing apps that morph people’s bodies into slim figures only encourage girls to believe that skinny is beautiful. 

This phenomenon is certainly not just social media-based; it’s widespread in real life too, especially in the model industry. Despite the fact that models are already thin, according to Vogue, over 62% of models were told to lose weight by their agencies. In addition to that, 54% of models were told that they wouldn’t be able to find a job if they don’t slim down. Consequently, there are countless numbers of fashion models that suffer from eating disorders. This is probably why anorexia, a type of eating disorder, is the most common among models. And this eating disorder, Anorexia, can be fatal; Ana Carolina Reston is a model that died of starvation. Besides not eating, models also do plastic surgery to lose weight. In fact, around 10 out of 100 models were recommended by agencies to get plastic surgeries like liposuction, which is a process that removes body fat.

The irony is that while mainstream media pressures regular girls to look up to thin models as the ultimate embodiment of beauty, the models themselves constantly face eating disorders and negative feedback from their agency. In the end, the “perfect” body is impossible to attain.

So why bother trying? There is no “perfect” body. It doesn’t exist. We are all perfect just the way we are. Our society keeps reminding girls that they should have the “perfect’ body; therefore, we need to take action. We should promote positive body images to take away the pressure that society puts on girls to be skinny. Girlguiding is the UK’s largest girls-only organization, and this organization launched a social media challenge to compliment girls on social media by using hashtags like #youareamazing. Participate in this challenge to spread positive body images. #Youareamazing

– Sohee Sophia Yoon (‘23)

Featured image: Sohee Sophia Yoon (‘23)

New KIS attendance policies due to Covid

Complaining has become a daily exchange in our everyday regimens. But today, I’d like to challenge this commonplace routine that we’ve all become so accustomed to.

Weeks into the start of another school year, the PTO and administration have come to settle a new attendance policy for KIS students: seniors at school, virtual for the rest. After weeks and months of tedious social distancing protocols, the introduction of this policy has spurred discussions across our school community ranging from teachers and parents to bus drivers and the Hyundai catering lunch workers. 

First, let’s keep in mind that this “decision” wasn’t really an individual’s choice but rather a national command from the Korean Ministry of Education to all students of public and international schools in South Korea. In other words, whether you’re a student, a teacher, or a parent, you’ll have to stick with these policies, at least until they further revise our plans.

As a senior myself, I’m not intensely bothered by the new “senior only” policy. Not only am I breaking away from the unhealthy habits and temptations of virtual learning, but I am also enjoying the physical company of my peers (socially distanced, of course). Though the school feels a little empty, it is much less hectic. And yes, taking the school bus to school and back home every day is tedious and time consuming. But still, I very much enjoy the presence of being at school and just learning in real life. 

A great emphasis of this issue is directed towards the students’ perspectives. Not just seniors, but juniors and the underclassmen. Although individual preferences can vary, it is true that being present at school isn’t always the most favorable option. Some people think of it as a convenience to learn virtually, while others think it is an opportunity missed. What about parents? While some parents think their children are having valuable learning experiences taken away, other parents strictly disapprove of their children going to school.

So many perspectives surround this debate and they extend to the forms of arguments and more complaints. In fact, complaining has become a daily exchange in our everyday regimens. But today, I’d like to challenge this commonplace routine that we’ve all become so accustomed to. 

Why are we complaining in the first place? Remember back in March when we yearned to come back to school? Taking things into perspective, we are still international school students with a plethora of privileges. We have school buses comfortably taking us from and back to school. We have access to English spoken classes that are supplied by our online resources and expensive computers as well as internet connection. Are the school lunches not “tasty” enough? At least we still have access to consistent meals and besides, packing our own lunch is always an option. 

Simply put, we are still living under favorable circumstances amidst a very difficult time. Things could really be worse. Though everyone is being economically impacted (unless your mom or dad works for Zoom), most of our parents still afford to send us to expensive hagwons and provide allowances while assisting us in their full capacity. 

Things are and have been difficult for us. But let’s remember that there are always others struggling more. And more importantly, everyone is going through the same –if not worse – difficulties as us. And although many of us are fairly aware of these privileges, we could practice setting for a deeper consideration, at least before taking out our complaints.

Maybe it’s time to abandon our individualistic mindsets and make room for broader perspectives. You decide.

Featured image: John Oh (’21)

– SJ Yang (’21)

Anti-Government Groups Conflict With Enforcement of COVID-19 Safety Measures

Religious groups in South Korea as well as anti-maskers in the States have protested against the enforcement of Coronavirus safety measures, conflicting with efforts to limit the spread of the disease.

Between September of 1918 and April of 1920, the notorious “Spanish Flu”, or H1N1 influenza A virus, raged across the globe, killing over 50 million people and infecting nearly  500 million. The Philadelphia decided not to cancel the Liberty Loan Parade, a promotional patriotic parade scheduled for September 28th , despite the ongoing pandemic.. On the day of the parade, 200,000 people poured into Broad Street, cheering and celebrating shoulder to shoulder in large crowds. As a result, the cases in Philadelphia nearly doubled in the span of a week. 

Though we’d assume we would learn from our historical mistakes, these unfortunate events have promptly repeated themselves with the unfolding of the COVID-19 outbreak. With skeptical anti-maskers, restless party-goers, and an inadequate government response, the cases in the US have skyrocketed.

South Korea has been able to avoid the tragic situation of the US with a swift and efficient response from the leading health officials. However,with the reopening of schools and several businesses came a sudden upturn of COVID-19 cases. Experts suspect certain church groups who have shown resistance against COVID-19 prevention requirements and have continued to meet in groups that exceed attendance restrictions enforced by the government. Much to the dismay of students and faculty, schools have shut down and resumed online learning. A number of shops that have suffered from virus outbreaks have also closed their doors. 

The Sarang Jeil Church is a right-wing religious group of Christians in South Korea. The group has become a huge topic of controversy with their members packing together in anti-government protests, and even going as far as to believe that the virus could potentially be a communist terrorist attack on their religious group. They claim that the South Korean president Moon Jae-In will turn South Korea into a communist country under his rule. Despite many of the members and even the Pastor, Jun Kwang-Hoon, testing positive for the virus, the members continued to rally in the streets, fueling the rapid ongoing spread of the virus. 

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Don’t the baseless claims of the anti-government Sarang Jeil Church group resemble the baseless claims of many anti-government US citizens? Haven’t the reasonless anti-maskers also fallen victim to the ailment of misinformation and corrupt media? According to Han Hwan-ho, a member of the Sarang Jeil Church, members rushed to unite with their fellow members in order to “to defend [their] country’s alliance with the United States and our freedom of religion”. Similar themes of freedom have surfaced in the United States with anti-maskers claiming that coronavirus safety measures are an infringement upon their personal rights. Protests by anti-maskers in the US, who rally without their masks and ignore social distancing, have contributed greatly to case spikes in several states. Similarly, gatherings of church members who ignore safety measures in Korea have also caused a sizable portion of increases in COVID-19 cases. These are the times in which listening to government authority is critical in preventing the spread of the virus, and citizen must protect each other by following safety guidelines. 

These unfortunate instances of ignorance and mistrust amongst anti-government protesters shine a bright light on the underlying social problems in both the US and South Korea as well as a multitude of other countries. Fake news and leaders who encourage irresponsible and illogical behaviour or beliefs have been shown to undermine attempts to mitigate coronavirus cases and have ultimately cost the world thousands of lives. Perhaps South Korea and the United States have more in common than we thought.

 -Michelle Lee (22′)

Featured Image: Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Writing Can Make You Happier

Are you happy?

I’d like you to close your eyes and think about this question:

“Are you happy?”

Are you happy in this place, in this time, do you enjoy life? Of course, the most likely answer, would be ‘no’. The majority of my peers have answered ‘no’. Each replied with a laugh and a negative reply.

‘Even a retard couldn’t be happy in this place.’  

Why do we think these things? Why can’t we take the steps to smile, to follow the TED-talks, Youtube tutorials, Quora posts, and silly quizzes on unsecure websites—all telling us how to become happier? We sit here, wondering what happiness is, if we truly desire it, our heads tripping into that summer swing that flies nonchalantly through each vague, time-consuming question:

‘Am I happy?’

PC: MicheleSayers

We have all experienced our own hardships, and no matter how their severity may compare to each other, when it comes to deciding whether or not everyone is the same or completely unique there is one thing that all of humankind shares:

Pain

Happiness seems to be the most effectual way of healing pain; yet, we struggle remarkably to achieve it. Many young writers begin to write because they are dealing with certain pressures and various forms of stress. Writing usually starts from the books, the happiness of these stories and the places they describe draw us in and make us want to live to see them. And sometimes we cannot help but think that ‘One who writes happy things must be happy.’, thus, in our search of happiness, we begin to write.

But, you don’t necessarily have to always write about happy things. In my case, I drafted quick poems about the darkness of my room, the fear, the pain. However, each time I flipped a page, my words became more positive. Writers at the same time, indulge in pleasant imagery about the better memories of our lives. Though the drafts I created as a child were very badly written, each positive sentence of warmth and comfort placed itself so neatly into my head. Writing provides many with a pillow to cushion the stiff, stoic darkness of our thoughts.

Slowly, life becomes lighter.

This idea of self-healing revealed itself to me in the form of poetry, short, thoughtful walks, and more dozing off into space during breaks. Though the thought of these things may seem like ‘a waste of time’, I assure you they provide the exact opposite.

Many students stress excessively over their grades and test scores and are rarely exposed to “true-boredom”. Boredom seems like the ultimate waste of time, yet boredom is what I believe to be one of the very beginnings of writing. In a state of boredom, one experiences various thoughts, perhaps about the hue of the sky or the rain streaks on the window. Ideas resulting from boredom are often translated into into artistic portrayals of the absurd journey of their thought processes.

The more often one experiences these deeper moments, the better ideas they think of—thus resulting in an individual who is capable of more than just strictly academic thinking. Writing creates a world of escape, a leisurely space in which one can think freely about the things in their life, their opinions, or simply not think about those things at all.

Writing creates a more self-aware and empathetic environment for the writer—what I mean by this is that by writing about yourself and other people, by taking the time to write from the perspectives of those around you or characters from your imagination, you will naturally be given a higher capability of understanding yourself and others. With writing, even a beginner will gain the ability to think deeper and to take on more creative risks.

Taking more risks gives one a wider spectrum of choices in life, they’ll be more willing to seize new opportunities and chances. Studies have shown that the human brain is happier when presented with less flavors of ice cream to choose from, but life is not Baskin Robbins, and opportunities are not ice cream flavors. The more you reach for, the greater chance of you succeeding. While in the process of performing a risk, doubt and hesitation usually appear—which is where writing comes in handy. Writing about the risk you’re taking and why you’re taking it will make you more confident in continuing forward and completing the task you set out to do. You’ll be less fickle about your decision, less hesitant, more brave, and more excited than anxious to take the risk.

This, will ultimately make you, a happier, more accomplished individual, who has taken the risks they have always avoided, and who has taken the opportunities they have always been too scared to take.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured image: MicheleSayers

Sports and COVID

With COVID continuing to persist, is it worth it – or safe – to play sports?

Céspedes gets on-deck as cardboard fans look on

“Of all the unimportant things, football (soccer) is the most important” – St. John Paul II

Sports are a key factor in many people’s lives that affects both their mood and their enjoyment of life. Watching sports is entertaining and the organizations that sponsor these sports make tons of revenue. However, the coronavirus has thrown a kink into 2020’s sports plans. 

The NBA has arguably done the best job at managing the coronavirus. They’ve created a ‘bubble’ in which all teams, with their players and staff, are going to be playing in Orlando together. It has worked incredibly well so far in limiting the cases of coronavirus in the NBA to 0. The organization has successfully managed to organize games with 22 teams of players and around 1400 staff members without instigating any threats to public health and wellbeing. Clearly, the work that Adam Silver put into learning about the virology and logistics of containing the virus has paid off. 

However, less can be said about the MLB. The New York Times reported on the Marlins, Phillies, and Cardinals, all with coronavirus cases that caused delays. It was clear to Zac Shomler from Strong Opinion Sports that Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB, has done a far worse job at setting an example for the type of conduct that was to be followed in order to prevent coronavirus cases. Although a bubble like the NBA would be more difficult to maintain for larger leagues such as the MLB, it was still poorly managed as to how seriously players and staff should be concerned with maintaining their safety. These delays make it harder for teams to go through with playoffs, as regular season games become more staggered. 

The NFL season has yet to start, but training camps have already seen cases of coronavirus pop up. Now, if a bubble with the MLB would be hard, an NFL bubble would be downright impossible. NFL teams would have 32 teams, with a roster of around 40-50 players each, and their own staff of around 3800 people each on average. It would be a logistical nightmare, and there is not even a facility to house that many people in order to have a bubble. However, teams have begun to check into hotels, so that there is less contact with outsiders. Teams and staff are living in their own hotels and going from training camp to the hotel everyday. According to the Washington Post, there were “56 players [that] had tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the opening of training camps,” but Allen Sills, the chief medical officer of the NFL, says that they expect more cases to arise, and that their goal is to quickly identify and prevent the spread of these cases. Even so, some players have begun to opt out of practice and likely of the season completely, given that it would even start. 

These struggles are universal as coronavirus takes an ever larger toll on the world. Professional sports, although entertaining, should be considered as a luxury of a time before the pandemic. The leagues outside of the NBA get larger and deal with more staff and players, making any solution that is reminiscent of the NBA’s a logistical nightmare. It is far more important that the health and safety of the players is considered, especially in the US where the handling of coronavirus has been far less consistent. 

– Sean Choe ‘21

Featured Image: Al Bello/Getty Images

Meet the Candidates: Hansei Jang

Hansei Jang (’21) is running for the position of Media Relations Director.

Blueprint is committed to restoring the issues and vision to the center stage of this election. We’ve reached out to all declared Student Council candidates to hear about their ideas for the next school year. All responses received will be published prior to the start of voting. This post is neither an endorsement nor disapproval of any particular candidate. 

1. Why are you running to be the Media Relations Director?

Being a positive influence and a leader is always something I’m pursuing to be. Media is always in my field of interest and something I’m passionate about. It isn’t just my hobby but it’s something I want to pursue for my future career, and our school is the perfect place to start. I want to raise awareness about our school spirit and school events with my talents and passions and am willing to dedicate my time and energy into doing so. Media isn’t the only reason I’m running to be the Media Relations Director. I want to share my ideas and visions to our Student Council and take part in the organization process. I have a lot to bring to the table such as my experiences with leadership, my talents, my visions, my sociable personality, and my strong desire for success.

2. If elected, what do you see to be your role in the Student Council?

Being the Media Relations Director of a Student Council isn’t just about the media, that’s only a small portion of it and I’m well aware of that. My role of being Media Relations Director in the Student Council is to help out in anything I can. This involves organizing for events, sharing my ideas and opinions to fellow officers, and creating relationships with the staff and student body to further improve our school’s community. All of this would be done while still fulfilling the media side of things such as creating videos, creating posters, decorating the KIS Student Council Instagram page, etc. If elected, I will dedicate my time and effort into a variety of fields rather than just media.

3. How will you (better) use existing Student Council media outlets to match your vision for KIS and the student body?

Our Student Council already promotes big events through videos and Instagram posts. To simply address my visions for KIS and the student body, I want to diversify the types of videos on the Student Council YouTube page and make as many people as possible feel involved. Right now, the Student Council YouTube page is not very active and posts only a few videos each year. I want to progress our Student Council’s YouTube page by creating a variety of different videos, not just promotional videos. Videos that will include students so that the student body can be more involved and watch videos they desire. Not only that but rather than only promoting events through videos, I want to create videos on what happens during these events so people can look back on these memories anytime they want. I’ll be capturing all of the fun, memorable moments throughout the school year and creating videos for you guys to watch! This isn’t just about promoting events and spirit weeks but it’s about making all of these moments memorable.

4. In which area do you think our school and the student body face the greatest challenge? How will you work with this challenge?

I think the greatest challenge our school and student body has is that our school lacks a sense of community. A lot of times, our school feels separated. Everyone is in their own groups and it’s hard to know people you usually don’t talk with. Obviously I can’t fully resolve this problem, however I have solutions to make this better. My solution to improving our school’s environment is to include as many people as I can in future videos and Instagram posts. This way, students can get to know other people a bit easier and will encourage school spirit. Promoting school spirit is a great way to create a sense of community in our school as well. Showing others that our students are very supportive in our school activities strengthens KIS’s reputation and image. I am determined to improve our school’s atmosphere and make our school feel like one community.

5. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

My ambition, my experiences, and my character make me a more qualified candidate than my competitors. Media isn’t something I’m thinking about doing only throughout my high school career. Media is something I want to do in the future. Something I want to do as a career. I have great ambitions in this field and am in love with creating videos, creating posters, and sharing them to the public. Unlike others, my drive to pursue media isn’t for the recognition but is to capture the memories. I started vlogging on YouTube and ever since, my YouTube channel has been my journal. Capturing the funny moments of my life and creating videos my friends and I can look back on anytime. This is what I plan to do if I am elected as the next Media Relations Director: create videos for events so people can look back on the fun moments they had. Also I have a lot of experience in the field of media. I am the Head of Technology in the Sports Council and am the officer of Filmmakers Club. I’m a member of the media team in the Music Entertainment Club and was a Student Volunteer helping out the media team during KORCOS. I’ve helped with taking pictures and videos of school events such as sports games, Sketchbook, pep rallies, and more. Taking on all of these roles has made me a more organized and responsible person and has changed the way I work. Whenever I get a new video project, I always lay out my ideas and brainstorm right away. I have a plan on what I’m going to do and how I’m going to execute my plan. Not only that but as a person, I am very friendly, loyal, and hardworking. I work hard to show my best efforts to my audience and am very open to any feedback or ideas I get. My personality allows me to talk to others easily and share and receive ideas without any problem which is key in being a Media Relations Director.

6. What is your secret talent?

I guess it’s finally time to reveal my secret talent… I’ve been hiding this from many people but I guess sharing my secret talent is the least I can do to become the next Media Relations Director. My secret talent is that I can die from just drinking a glass of milk. Throughout my whole life I’ve realized that this was a talent only a small percentage of people can claim they have. I don’t really want to get into the specifics because I’m very insecure about this but yes, that’s my secret talent.

Meet the Candidates: Ann Kim

Ann Kim (’21) is running for the position of Vice President.

Blueprint is committed to restoring the issues and vision to the center stage of this election. We’ve reached out to all declared Student Council candidates to hear about their ideas for the next school year. All responses received will be published prior to the start of voting. This post is neither an endorsement nor disapproval of any particular candidate. All answers here are taken from the candidate’s presented campaign documents. 

1. Why are you running to be the Vice President?

The year I have spent on the Student Council has caused me realize how much I care about planning and organizing events for my fellow students, I helped plan these events from scratch, think of games that would be appealing to all grades, communicate with the leadership groups from other international schools, and talk to representatives from all grade levels. The past year has not only built up my experience as a student leader but changed the character of who I am today. 

It has brought out a new personality, and maybe this is the reason why I feel the need to dedicate myself to helping the student body to be more spirited, vocal, and enthusiastic about expressing their thoughts to the community. To shape KIS into a school where everyday is filled with school spirit and one that is constantly changing for the better. 

I want to be a person who lends others a helping hand. Because of this, I ran for and won a position as a junior grade representative. When I went to the new students orientation, I helped the new students fit in and responded to their questions about the school and Student Council as best as I could.. And since I’ve experienced the impact of simple acts like reaching out to new students, I think it brought me to realize that these small but powerful deeds can spread throughout our school community.

2. What vision do you have for KIS and how will you accomplish this?

If I were to become Vice President, I think I will start with promoting these everyday acts of kindness that may change the whole student body into realizing the great impact that these simple acts are able to bring. it has on the student body and the attitude we come to school every day.

I have great, feasible ideas and the potential to make this school better. Throughout my year serving as a grade representative, I’ve asked many of my friends continuously what the Student Council needs to change. I was also a member of the AISA leadership team for this year and heard about other international schools’ problems. Below, I’ve outlined what the student body has requested of the Student Council and also have incorporated my very own solutions to these problems and some new things I would like to implement.

  1. Release of Student Council-Admin Communication to the School
  2. Optional Monthly meetings by grade & implementing anonymous suggestion platforms (i.e. Drop box, bulletin board, google form, asked.kr)
  3. Active communication between grade reps and students in that grade
  4. Improved Club Fair
  5. New student support

3. In which area do you think our school and the student body face the greatest challenge? How will you work with this challenge?

While thinking through all my campaign ideas I thought a lot about how a lot of my friends talk about what Student Council does and why we are not able to fulfill students’ demands and make significant changes to the school. As a student, I’m also frustrated by the fact there aren’t any significant changes that are being made to the school (ex. Dress code, AP limits, # of college applications, formals, fair grading amongst teachers). Serving as a junior representative to Student Council for a year, I realized those things are not easy things to change. They all require planning out events specifically, estimating the budget, contacting/purchasing supplies, and getting final approval of an admin. So my idea is releasing all Stuco-Admin communication to the school, such as documentation of the Admin-Officer meetings. This way, I believe the student body will be able to actively see what Student Council is doing and hold us accountable. This way, it enables the student body to propose alternative/creative ideas that may be implemented through further meetings with PTO/teachers.

I believe one of the main reasons there’s a lack of participation in Student Council’s town halls is that the environment town hall creates is a somewhat formal atmosphere that makes it harder for many of the students to speak out their concerns or questions of the school. Often, we use a platform which passes around mics to share our opinions which may make people afraid to speak even though they come into the meeting with a determination to share their thoughts. To better implement a system where people can share their opinions freely, I think separating the town hall based on grade level will create a more relaxed atmosphere for people to freely express their opinion. Furthermore, sometimes students have valid suggestions for changes, but they are too afraid to speak out for fear of being chastised or being too controversial. This is where I believe anonymous suggestion platforms can be a huge help to the student body. Creating drop boxes or google forms allows students to express their opinions in an anonymous environment where they don’t have to worry about being criticized.

4. There are a lot of changes happening next year. If the student body has confusions or complaints about such changes, how do you plan to effectively communicate and address these with the students and the admins?

Grade Reps best represent the student body of their particular grade. To make sure these roles are fulfilled, I want to make sure that there is more involvement of grade reps to their particular grade so that we can gather as executive officers and grade representatives to plan pep rallies and events that fulfill the desires of all grades because that is what I believe the student council should be doing. To do this, I would like to activate facebook groups by adding polls, updates on schoolwork/big projects for each grade level, along with coordinating with advisory teachers to create activities that the students desire.

One problem I’ve noticed within KIS is difficulty integrating new students. Despite things like new student orientation, I feel that on the first day of school, new students still feel alone and unsure of what to do. I can say this confidently as I was once in this situation, as were many others that I know. My idea is to extend the StuCo support for new students past orientation, such as pairing new students with a StuCo member they can contact even before/after orientation for any questions they have. Furthermore, many schools have systems where for the first day or week, StuCo members help new students find their classes throughout the day or sit with them at lunch. I think this strengthened support system is a great way for new students to familiarize with KIS methods and not feel so alone.

5. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

Most importantly, I would like you all to know that I am not a person that will drop the responsibilities of the position as Vice President after being elected. I value your votes and I value people. After I was elected as a Grade Representative last year, I received a swarm of messages congratulating me and saying that they trust me and know that I will do a great job. They also said things such as I’m glad that YOU are the junior representative. Honestly, there were times when there was just too much work, or too many expectations people had of me of being a grade representative. There were times when I needed to stand out to the grade and be charismatic in front of people, which was not an easy thing for me. But these messages which I’ve screenshotted and put into my folder on my phone, continuously motivated me and kept me to the right path: to serve and work for the better of the student body.
This is why I would like to tell you guys that voting for me is the right choice. Many of the voters may be my friends and many I may not know. However, I’ll know one thing. That you have voted me to be your Vice President because you trust me. That’s all I need to push me forward. If you vote for me, I can reassure you, your votes do not expire after this election. They become the small pushes that will make me keep on going forward and eventually form into the vision you and I have created together when you voted for me. I am the right candidate for this school, the one who will truly work hard to better this environment and to listen to you, the students. I will not just work hard now to win the title and then sit idly by while others work. I will work my hardest for the entire year leading the Student Council to reach its full potential and do what it was meant to do: serve the students.

6. What is your secret talent?

I can predict the future with surprising accuracy!

Meet the Candidates: Cindy Kim

Cindy Kim (’21) is running for the position of President.

Blueprint is committed to restoring the issues and vision to the center stage of this election. We’ve reached out to all declared Student Council candidates to hear about their ideas for the next school year. All responses received will be published prior to the start of voting. This post is neither an endorsement nor disapproval of any particular candidate. 

1. Why are you running to be the Vice President?

Throughout the many years I have been involved in Student Council, I believe that I have truly developed as a leader by acquiring necessary traits. Not only have I learned what true leadership is throughout those years, but I have learned how to take on responsibility, how to be communicable, and how important being organized is. I want to use these traits and experiences to serve the school and Student Council. I feel very passionate about the wellbeing of the student community and staff. I know that with great power comes great responsibility, but I am ready and willing to take that responsibility if it means that I can influence the community in a positive way. Please refer to my written introductions for more!

Throughout my campaigning season, I outlined the traits I have that I consider are important for a leader. However, there is one thing that is so much more important than any of those traits. And that is: I just genuinely enjoy being involved in the Student Council. I love serving our school. I love planning for events and hosting events. And I love seeing you guys creating meaningful memories in events that I planned. It means so much to me. At times Student Council can be stressful and time-consuming, but because I love it so much, all of that time and effort is worth it. I have been here at KIS for 12 years now, and it is my second family. I want to be the person that can make your school life more meaningful and more fun.

2. What vision do you have for KIS and how will you accomplish this?

My ultimate vision for KIS is a more connected community. I feel like our school is so divided in many ways, and I want to break down the barriers by giving the student body more opportunities to voice their opinion. Some of my plans include: open up Student Council Feedback Form and change events according to the community’s wants, strengthen communication between teachers and students using an online bulletin board system for every class, and a more lively school atmosphere through interactive spirit weeks and school decorations.

Refer to this document for more details.

3. In which area do you think our school and the student body face the greatest challenge? How will you work with this challenge?

I think that the greatest challenge that our school and the student body face is the lack of communication. Especially with virtual school, I feel like the divide has become even wider. Different grade levels rarely have a chance to really interact with each other, and teachers and students also have a barrier between them. As a school, it is harder to build a sense of community in an atmosphere like this, and as I said earlier in my vision statement, I want to implement initiatives that can create a more connected community. That way, I believe the school can be more spirited and the sense of caring and love can return.

4. There are a lot of changes happening next year. If the student body has confusions or complaints about such changes, how do you plan to effectively communicate and address these with the students and the admins?

Communication and addressing changes or issues to the students and the admins are an essential role of the Student Council. I plan to do this in three ways. To the student body, I plan to give quarterly updates on what the Student Council has been working on by using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Schoology. Schoology updates will also help the Student Council communicate with the admins. Informing the parents is very important in our school community as well. As the activities liaison, I have previous experience of attending regular PTO meetings and addressing the parents what the Student Council did recently. I plan to utilize this experience and continue addressing the parent community in this way.

5. What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

Experience is definitely something that you cannot ignore. I have tried hard to improve as a student leader since 3rd grade, and thankfully I think that effort has paid me off in recent years. Another reason I believe I am more qualified than my competitor is that I am responsible. Even small things like meetings to big things like events, I do not treat things that I am responsible for as a joke. Hardworking follows with this trait. Because I feel passionate about things that I am responsible for, it makes it hard not to be hardworking. No matter what it is, I always try my best and give it my all, because I want to return the amount of trust I have received from other people. This year I was able to utilize those qualities of mine to plan the logistics for Patio on Fire, International Day, several pep rallies, and Prom, even though it was canceled. I was also responsible for organizing and running the New Club Applications process this year.

6. What is your secret talent?

I can do a front roll in the middle of the street.