Welcome back to the official, busy start of the 2016-2017 school year with some of our new teachers, new students, and of course, new clubs! As important as extracurricular activities are for college, they allow students to explore and pursue their genuine interests ranging from that of academic, artistic, and innovative.
But it is apparent that some clubs are more favored over others in KIS, proven by their sheer size, such as MUN, Mock Trial, or NHS. Especially this year, it was quite a blow to see the substantial majority of students all sway over to one side. According to the officers, Mock Trial club had eighty students, whereas MUN had ninety students sign up, which is almost an entire grade level! What is the reason for this mass congregation? Indeed, all these popular clubs have something in common – they involve prestigious competitions, rewards, and global interactivity. Apart from the truly passionate, active club members, it seems as though perhaps, many tend to gather around the “popular” clubs for their name value. Or it may also be due to the simple lack of awareness upon the other special, multitude of smaller clubs with meaningful purposes of their own.
Though clubs have formally begun, let us still open our eyes to the other distinctive, passionate clubs that have recently shaped up this year.
1. Teach North Korean Refugees
Recently, there has been a sudden influx of North Korean refugees to South Korea, in which at least 450 of them came over to Bundang. The local authorities and the Bundang Police Station reached out to KIS for help, and as a result, TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees) was formed with the collaboration between a couple of teachers and seniors. Many of these refugees include children, ranging from Elementary all the way to High schoolers, and they sought additional support with learning English. Every week, student members of TNKR are planning to teach English by visiting the Police station, hoping to approach the refugees like friends and open their minds up through education. Currently, twenty members are involved, and they are exploring lesson plans to engage with the students’ learning. Moreover, last Saturday, there was a mini-Olympkis in KIS to spend time to welcome these refugees through interactive games, sports, and so on.
“Today, North Korea is one of the world’s poorest countries. The government undertakes extreme measures to ensure that the citizens adhere to systematic lifestyles, which allow the rulers to maintain dominance. Basic rights of free speech and movement is absent in the country. Anyone responsible for claims or actions that conflict with the country’s conventions is immediately tortured in a prison camp or may be even publicly executed. Teenagers and children risk their lives and those of their family members to escape the appalling lifestyles. The fortunate ones successfully escape the horrid conditions and reach South Korea; however, even in the new country, the refugees have very little to grow from. We’re too busy chuckling at the absurd laws, ridiculous lies, and amusing features of the president, completely neglectful of what is actually important: the people. In order for us to push for change, it is imperative to find a solution that will help the North Korean people, not the regime. If I successfully teach even one refugee, I have succeeded in making a change.” – Joy Youn (‘17)
“TNKR (Teach North Korean Refugees) demands learning from both the students and the students’ students, an essential component of the school wide service learning committee.” – Roger Han (‘17)
DECA is both a Tuesday and Thursday club that deals with business and entrepreneurship, where students learn how to make business plans and research reports that’ll prove extremely useful in real life. Aside from the major subjects that are dealt with like marketing, finance, business management, hospitality, there are also topics called “clusters”, which include fashion, restaurant management, sports, and so on. According to the Thursday DECA officer Minji Kim, their team will be “focusing on not only official DECA competitions but also other business competitions in Korea and business-related activities.” And proudly, KIS DECA is actually the first DECA chapter in Korea after its beginning in America, and there is great potential awaiting for the club. There is not a great load of homework in case many are worried, except the month before preparing for competitions.
“My favorite part of DECA is that we can learn skills such as making research reports and presenting plans in front of other people that will actually be useful in real life. We look forward to doing lots of cool things in the 2016~17 school year!” – Minji Kim (‘18)
3. Green PEAS
“Green PEAS or Green Phoenix Ecological Association for Students is a club dedicated to increase awareness of the environment at Korea International School. We believe that the environment is tied with almost every aspect of this world. Whether you’re an economic student, social study student, or even science student. The environment is always involved. More and more companies realize their Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. The environment shaped our history. Science is interrelated with the environment.
The support from the school is absolutely astonishing as Mr.Cathers allowed us to use a patch of KIS land for ecological research purposes. Our goal for this year is ‘Bringing back the Natives’ and we will be planting shrubs and various plants to bring back the bird species that used to live in the mountains. We’re also looking forward to cooperating with the elementary and middle school department for the bird house construction as well.
By providing students with such opportunity without any stress (since majority of the work happens during club time), we believe that students will be able to take a break from the monotonous life style that they live in and truly realize the beauty of nature which they may have forgotten over their school career.” — Geo Han (17’)
4. Fantasy Reading/writing club
The first thing that Judy Jhang, the founder of Fantasy Reading/writing club, mentioned is that, “although our club name is Fantasy Reading and Writing club, we are more like a creative writing club.” During club time, students work on their individual creative writing pieces with the ultimate goal of submitting their work to the Scholastic awards by the end of the year. Club sponsor teacher Mr. Collings, who is both an English teacher and an author of several books, always has great advices for these creative writers. Students also help each other by giving feedback and peer editing one another’s work.
“Let your creativity be noticed by joining our club!” – Judy Jhang (‘18)
5. KIS Makers
KIS Makers (Tuesday club) sponsored by Mr. McCullough, is an innovative club focused on creating objects of imagination. Students use different design based computer softwares to create different 3D models that can be 3D printed or presented as virtual reality. A lot of people think that designing something has to be complex, but it’s actually not. And throughout the year, club members will be able to explore various aspects of art, science, and graphic design.
“Being creative and innovative is important in one’s life. In recent years you can see that it’s all those technological innovations that enhances the society. I want students in KIS to explore little things in life that bother them and use their imagination to fix it. KIS Makers studies and teach the fundamental elements into innovation.” – Emily Lee (‘17)
6. Blue Phoenix
“Blue Phoenix is a music ensemble club, performing and volunteering inside and outside of school. Blue Phoenix started out as a quartet group in 2010; for six years, our quartet have performed in school events and hosted charity concerts for the elderly and the disabled. As the years passed, more people wanted to join our quartet and perform as an ensemble with us. This summer we had our third charity concert in Bobath Memorial Hospital with 17 friends, including strings and band players. This year, Blue Phoenix has been opened as a club in Korea International School so that not only string players but also band players may enjoy music and volunteer with us. Our club will host two charity concerts, one at Bobath Hospital and the other at Aenea’s House, volunteer four times a year at Bobath Memorial Hospital, and continue to perform in school events. We hope people who love music and are willing to perform with us to join our club.” —Angela Park (‘19)
7. Bridge Publishers
A Tuesday club, Bridge Publishers is devoted in promoting free English education for all children. However, rather than visiting various sites to teach a few students, Bridge Publisher focuses on actually creating new ESL resources and materials for those who cannot afford them. In many public schools, students often face English through hard-core memorization of vocabularies and grammar, which may be effective for taking tests but inept for real-life, oral skills. And with the goal of promoting a more creative, entertaining, and interactive means for learning English, Bridge Publisher has been attempting on producing books with more features like detailed Korean explanations, study plans, quizzes, games, and so on. This year, they’re also aiming to make creative storybooks with their own illustrations, fun plots, characters, translation, or additional notes about vocab or sentence structures incorporated within.
“This is our second year as a club, and we are continuing making more materials like we did during our first year, but we have also set up a PR group so that we can potentially partner up with other KIS clubs who can use our materials for volunteer purposes.” – Leona Maruyama (‘17)
“There are many organizations both in and outside the school that volunteer to teach kids from low-income family. I myself am part of this effort devoting an hour every week to helping young kids with English. Yet, while the act of volunteering made me feel good, I was disturbed by the fact that I wasn’t really helping the kids. So instead of starting just another club that links KIS students with tutoring opportunities, I wanted to lay the groundwork for an student-organization that is committed to building a sustainable curriculum that tutors both in and outside the club could use to make their volunteer experience more productive to the children in need.” – Eunice Na (‘17)
Like this, a variety of new, creative clubs continue to form every year. We all have distinctive, special fields of interest that excite us, and it’s that fiery passion that’ll truly allow us to grow as individuals. So how about we open our eyes to the wider opportunities lying ahead?
– Sammie Kim (’18)