World Autism Awareness Day: In a World of Their Own

World Autism Awareness Day is on April 2nd where people all over the world come together to spread awareness of autism.

April 2, the World Autism Awareness Day, is celebrated all over the world to raise awareness of the people with Autism Spectrum disorder throughout the world. This year, the theme is “Assistive Technology and Active Participation.”

This year’s theme keeps in mind the significant role that technology plays in the development of people of all different form of disability, including autism. Technology not only is important to the development of individuals, but it also ensures people with disabilities are guaranteed basic human rights such as the individuals’ freedom and help them participate as a full member of society. This theme acknowledges the fact that assistive technology is expensive and inaccessible to the large population with autism.

Although the term “autism” could be heard frequently, most people are not fully aware of what autism really is. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects how people express themselves, communicate with others, and understand the world around them. According to Autism Speaks, this spectrum disorder can vary in degrees and everyone is different.

Autism Awareness Day gives us a chance to have a better understanding of the world around us and our community. Given the fact that about one in fifty-nine children worldwide has autism, it is very likely that you will meet someone with this disorder. Instead of assuming and making stereotypes, we should make the effort to get to know more about them.

One of the clubs in KIS, Light It Up Blue, advocates this cause and seeks to find ways to spread awareness about autism both inside and outside of our school. In order to find more about what we could do to spread awareness and participate in the World Autism Awareness Day, we asked the club officer, Joshua Choi (12), some questions.

Q: Why should we care about autism?

A: We should care about autism because it is a much more common disorder than most people think it is. It is very likely that you will meet or work with someone with autism in the future.

Q: Are there some ways we could do to spread awareness inside our school?

A: Some ways we can spread awareness in our school are to hang posters around the school. However, we think that the best way would be to have a guest speaker come and speak about Autism, which would be more difficult to organize. We can also pass out small fact cards in the morning to frequently remind people about autism.

Q: How should we treat people with autism?

A: We shouldn’t bully people with autism. Since they can be more sensitive to loud noises or bright lights, we should try to view a situation from their perspective and be ready to support them if they do not feel comfortable.

Q: Is your club doing anything for the World Autism Awareness Day?
A: Our club made a post on the KIS 2018-2019 facebook group, promoting the website that we made. Be sure to check out the website!

Ignorance can lead to misunderstandings and in order to stop those from happening, it is important for us to care and treat them with equal respect. The first step is to take part in this day and look at the community around you!

– Jenna Jang (‘22)

credits: www.investorplace.com

 

KIS Poverty Simulation

A poverty simulation by the Global Issues Network club stressed the importance of KIS students venturing beyond the luxuries we take for granted in our daily lives and develop a better understanding of our society.

Globally, around 600 million children live in extreme poverty and are put under harsh conditions. Families don’t have enough money for basic necessities—food, clothes, shelter, and education. This also means that people are forced to live in an unimaginable low poverty line, which is 11,667 KRW for Korea and about $2 globally.

For us, it is difficult to imagine living under the poverty line.  Lunches from our school cafeteria cost 5,000 won, and that doesn’t even include the other food most of us get from the deli or the convenient store. Spending 5,000 won on lunch is already two times past the poverty line budget. Most of the students from our school are used to having no trouble spending a large amount of money, which raised the question—would KIS students be able to survive under the international poverty line?

In order to further investigate in this, Global Issues Network decided to try a poverty simulation which lasts for one day in order to fully understand what being in poverty actually meant. On February 25, volunteers from the club went through the day with no more than 2,200 won, which is about $2. The volunteers were not allowed to eat any food from their house or get any additional parental assistance. To document their day and record the simulation, members recorded themselves in different parts of their day talking about how they were feeling and how they were going to use the 2,200 won that they had. Through this simulation, students were able to physically understand and learn first-hand the struggles that people in poverty had to face.

In order to have a better insight into this simulation, I met up with Hannah Kim (Grade 9), a member of Global Issues Network who participated in the poverty simulation.

How was your day like during the simulation?
I feel like it was a new opportunity for me because normally I spend more than 22000 won per day. Ramen was the only food that I was able to afford and when I thought about how people were forced to eat it every day, I was able to connect with their hardships.

What were some hardships you faced?
The change of food was my biggest hardship since I was used to eating cafeteria food that costs around 5,000 won. Especially because Thursday was a special menu day, and it was hard for me to endure myself from eating the food.

What did you learn from this experience?
I learned to appreciate what I already have and be grateful for my parents who provides me enough food and resources.

Are there any ways you can apply what you learned into our daily lives?
In order to not forget the lesson, we can try to use as little as possible. For example, when we go to the market, we can reduce to the absolute necessities.

All of the members said that this was an eye-opening experience for not only understanding poverty but our world. The Global Issues Network Club stressed the importance of KIS students venturing beyond the luxuries we take for granted in our daily lives and develop a better understanding of our society.

– Jenna Jang ‘22

Featured Image: Global Issues Network Club

Everything They Told You—The Dangers Of Gossip

PC: socialidentitynetwork.com

Through countless judgments, lies, regrets, and false assumptions, I’ve come to a standstill in my thoughts about relationships—both with friends and family. The diffusion of information through rumors and gossip spreads like rapid fire, twisting simultaneously in multiple paths of communication, like minerals flowing through the roots of a tree. So common is this type of transmission, that any normal person would be tied into its complex passageways. If we were to look at the cause of all this, often times exaggerated information, we see it starts with one person. They hear that another person has done something out of the norm, something weird, amazing, disappointing, or disgusting—they tell it to someone else around them, who tells the same thing to another person around them, and the information spreads with an insanely rapid pace, sometimes reaching entire grade levels in only a few hours,

Especially in middle school was tougher than it should have been for many people, making them care about their appearance and think that beauty was the key to gaining momentum on the social ladder. What was fueling this was gossip that sucked away at our self-consciousness, envy, and fear.

We think that gossip is harmless, that as long as someone doesn’t hear something, they won’t be hurt by it. But it’s only a matter of time until the snowballed rumor reaches that person.

Plain and simple, gossiping is bullying, but an especially hard one to catch. There are simply too many lies that float around, whizzing past one student, transferring to another—like a multitude of diseases that everyone is infected with. Though we don’t hear much about gossip, it is a serious problem, a problem that is hard to solve, and a problem that exists everywhere. People often want lies to be true, and it is terrifying how easily they accept them.

In our school, there is a sea of complicated hatred, woven inside and out with piercing deceptions; all created by our classmates, siblings, friends, and even parents. And this is such a disappointment to all of us.

The next time you find yourself about to whisper something to your friend about the ‘gross’ kid in the back, take a step back and realize that you have no right to judge them that way if you don’t know a single damn thing about them. Think about the consequences of that our actions will take, imagine being subject to months of alienation, rejection, disgusted stares, and whispers. Imagine withstanding the pain of exclusion as our ‘friends’ leave you, convinced that the lies spread around us are true.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: socialidentitynetwork.com

2019 Course Registration—In the Eyes of Concerned Freshmen

As the 2019 course registration rolls around, worried freshmen express their concerns with the current registration process.

It’s that time of the year. As the first month of the second semester comes to a close, students face numerous meetings with their counselors, hold discussions with parents and friends, and pore over class and elective descriptions as they struggle to determine—you guessed it—their course registrations.

But a certain year of students might have it the hardest. As a freshman, I found myself surrounded by new courses and electives and a plethora of unfamiliar information. Right now, freshmen are only one semester into their high school lives, and already they have to make choices that may set their academic paths for the remaining 3 years of high school.

Thankfully, the freshmen aren’t alone in this process—their counselors, teachers, and even parents are all there to inform and support them and their course choices. Discussions and meetings with these people are very important, especially when regarding not just the courses students wish to take next year, but also in years after.

Still, there are some parts of the course registration process which prove to be challenging to freshmen. To figure out exactly which ones, I interviewed four KIS freshmen, each of whom expressed his/her thoughts on course registration.

How was the process of course registration for you? Describe your overall experience.

“Overall, the process did not have many problems. We visited our counselors, got information from them and our teachers about the potential courses we could sign up for, and there was even that day when our advisories went to see all the different electives and their descriptions. With all this information, the registration process was made a lot easier.”

“In my opinion, the course registration here at KIS was a pretty smooth process. It was a slow, informative selection process which gave us students lots of information at our disposal.”

Why did you decide to choose the courses you did?

“I chose one of my electives because I was looking at my high school future and wanted to take all 4 years of [it] to show commitment… and the other I chose because I genuinely enjoy it and I want to invest all 4 years of my high school life into [it].”

“I had most of my courses planned out for a specific path so it wasn’t super hard. It was hard deciding what electives I wanted to take because there were so many interesting courses available. I chose the courses which I found fun and also would allow me to delve into newer and more challenging things.”

“I personally chose [class] as it gave me a chance to continue enjoying my hobbies and build my already existing experience. The thought of learning a much broader scope of [topic] captivated my urge to take the class.”

What were some of the hardships you faced during the registration process?

“Honestly, although the counselors did give us some information about the courses and how to register, there weren’t a lot of clear instructions for what to do when you want to take certain courses or omit others. They gave vague ideas, but weren’t really specific.”

“Some parts of the process were confusing, such as how I would be able to appeal to take certain courses, or what courses to select on your PowerSchool when PowerSchool has all these limitations and standardizations. Also, I had a hard time choosing only two electives to take, when I wished I could’ve taken multiple.”

And finally, if you could change or add anything to the current course registration process, what would it be?

“Well, aside from the electives I already picked, I also wished that I could take economics or computer-aided design… There’s a bunch of really interesting elective options, but KIS doesn’t really give us a lot of opportunities to try them.”

“If I could change anything, I would change the amount of APs that someone could take during their sophomore year.”

“I would make it so that students could have more individual time to discuss with their counselors. We didn’t really have individual meetings—just large group ones, which were kinda rushed and didn’t allow us to ask all the questions we wanted, because of time constraints.”

After interviewing these freshmen and learning their thoughts on the course registration process, it is clear: although counselors and teachers are doing their part in informing students about the potential courses they could take, there seem to be two main sources of frustration with the current process.

With so many diverse courses offered, it is so tempting to take all. Especially as an underclassman with so many required courses to take, the number of electives gets very limited. The second is the general sense of confusion in the overall process.

Realistically, it’s going to be hard to try and solve the first issue. Changing (a.k.a. increasing) the number of electives a student can take to satisfy their desire for expanded horizons will prove to be very challenging. 

But the second issue is an issue that can be solved. 

Perhaps an increased number of autonomous block and contact time check-ups with counselors could help. But that has, historically, been proven to be an unpopular use of time. Instead, individually scheduling appointments with their counselors and teachers during lunch, autonomous block, or after school can be an excellent way to flush out the confusion.

Course registration for the freshmen—with their lack of experience, knowledge, and the lack of confidence needed to make clear course choices—is a little overwhelming, to say the least.

But it doesn’t have to be. 

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Featured Image: Lake Howell High School

4 Reasons to Avoid Senioritis

The time has come once again— as the second semester kicks off, the halls are lit up by jokes about a special group of people going through a special time: seniors. “Oh, let’s count how many days you show up to class,” someone says; “but who cares about APs at this point?” someone asks. Senioritis is an annual phenomenon that never fails to disappoint. Once that last college application has been submitted, 12th graders seem to instantly slump into a state of indifferent lethargy.

The obvious argument against senioritis put forth by KIS administrators and counselors is: if your grades drop significantly, you may get your college admissions offer rescinded, or worse, fail to graduate. But everyone knows this is quite rare. Most students suffering from senioritis slack off just enough so that they put in minimal effort to avoid serious consequences. That’s not what I call “avoiding senioritis”. I’m arguing for active effort, straight through the end of the semester. What if we actually worked as hard, or even harder, than we ever have?

Why would we do that, you ask?

Well, keep reading.

Senioritis contributes to the “college is everything” culture. KIS has suffered from an environment that stresses college admissions above everything else, and seniors know this better than anyone. They are the most recent victims of a society that places value on individuals and activities for their admissions-related consequences. All-star intelligent student? Oh, but he didn’t get into an Ivy. Intriguing after-school activity? Oh, but it won’t help you get into college. How annoying has that been throughout our high school lives?This is exactly the kind of mindset we should be fighting. But by refusing to care about school after college applications are all turned in, seniors contribute to the idea that college is the end-all, be-all goal. So can we instead decide to fight that idea, and make the most of our time in high school for its inherent value?

Senioritis shows disrespect to your teachers. Imagine you’re one of those teachers that put in hours after school to plan classes and think about students. It hurts to think that students don’t care at all. Above all, it would probably hurt to see how someone who showed active effort and real interest in first semester completely disappeared after they got into college, showing you that it was all a fake mask. Taking it easy is okay; completely reversing your attitude is not.

Second semester is your transition to college. This is the last semester seniors have before heading into college, which will undoubtedly be a time with a more intense workload and much more individual responsibility. So if your choices include watching Netflix for 7 hours straight after school, forgetting about studies entirely, and not bothering to earn a passing score for your APs, this may affect you moving forward. For example, many APs are given college credit— so it’s probably beneficial to look up the AP credit chart of the schools you may be attending so you keep the motivation to do well on those APs. Besides, if you get into the habit of maintaining a horrible work ethic and time management patterns, you may suffer once you step onto the college campus.

It’s a chance to explore and do what you really want. Take college admissions out of the equation. That gives you a whole semester to do what you really want. In truth, the three reasons I have mentioned thus far pale in comparison to how passionately I believe in this one. It’s good, I think, to relax a little when it comes to academic work. This is a time to let go of grade obsession. But jumping straight into the pool of naps and TV-bingeing is a wasted opportunity. Instead, see this as a chance to invest in other things. What kind of person do you want to be? What is something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe you can sign up for songwriting classes, go out to concerts, start working out, or learn how to cook with your mom. You could potentially head into college a slightly changed person.

In the end, the only advice I put forth is to not let this time merely go to waste. Most of all, seniors should keep in mind that this is probably the last time you will spend large amounts of time with your current friends— those you’ve laughed, cried, and struggled with, perhaps shared your first sip of alcohol or your first love. So take that into account. Show up and make more memories to end your tumultuous journey on a shining, wholesome note you won’t end up regretting once you’re off in college.

– Jisoo Hope Yoon ‘19

Featured Image: James Lee (12), Yejean Kim (12), Daniel Kim (12), taken by the author

Fall Sports and Why Sports are Important

The start of November marks another closure to a season of sports.

Starting from the first week of school, fall sports tryouts were well on their way to select the best athletes for KIS’s fall sports: tennis, volleyball, and cross country. Athletes went through a grueling first week, working to outcompete others to make the final cut. Once the team rosters were finalized, athletes committed to daily after-school practices except for Mondays. Practices for volleyball and cross country started as soon as school to end just a bit past 5 PM. Unfortunately for tennis, because the “home” courts were located off campus, practices usually ended much earlier – around 4:45.

Once all three sports were 2 weeks into their practices, athletes attended their first game which continues until the KAIAC tournament in which all teams compete with each other in their respective league. For the varsity teams, selected members are given the opportunity to participate in additional tournaments that are usually held overseas.  Varsity cross country and volleyball athletes alternate years hosting the AISA tournament or competing in Japan. For tennis, athletes travel abroad to the International School of Beijing (ISB) to participate in the Dragon Tournament.

With fall sports having their final week of practice just over a week ago, here’s how they have finished their seasons:

  • The junior varsity volleyball teams placed 5th place
  • The varsity girls volleyball team placed 5th in the KAIAC conference, 4th in the KAIAC tournament, and 4th in the AISA tournament
  • The varsity boys volleyball team placed 1st in the KAIAC conference, 5th in the KAIAC tournament, and 1st in the AISA tournament
  • The varsity girls cross country team placed 1st in the KAIAC conference, 1st in the KAIAC tournament, and 1st in the AISA tournament
  • The boys cross country team placed 2nd in the KAIAC conference, 2nd in the KAIAC tournament, and 1st in the AISA tournament
  • The varsity boys tennis team placed 3rd in the KAIAC conference, 3rd in the KAIAC tournament, and 3rd in the Dragon Tournament
  • The varsity girls tennis team placed 3rd in the KAIAC conference, 3rd in the KAIAC tournament, and 4th in the Dragon Tournament

The final event on the list for all sports was the banquet in which coaches present accolades for each team: the Most Valuable Player award, Most Improved Player award, and the Coach’s Award. The cross country held their own banquet separately, as they usually do, due to the large number of cross-country athletes. The banquet for the tennis and volleyball teams was held the next day. As each sports team was called up, the coaches recognized the athletes and presented the awards to the most exceptional athletes. The banquet was emotional for coaches and athletes especially when senior athletes were recognized for their final year. Following the tradition, the managers for each team presented a video of the highlights of the season in which the athletes were able to celebrate their final moments of the season.

Sports have been an imperative constituent of the numerous extracurricular activities that are offered in KIS. KIS highly values sports and the profound benefits of sports, and for good reason.

Having been involved in the tennis team since my freshman year, I cherish the memories I’ve made through the team over the past few years. I was able to bond with student-athletes and sports managers I most likely wouldn’t have even talked to if it were not for my involvement on the tennis team. Luckily this year, as members of each grade level was on the members of the tennis team, I was able to meet various freshmen and sophomores. I’ve also befriended students from other schools whom I have met during various games or the Dragon tournament. From traveling abroad and eating amazing food to simply cheering on our teammates, all of the experiences have been a joy. All the team dinners, always followed by noraebangs sessions, were always fun too. Even if we didn’t come out victorious, sport teams are great because they act as a great stress-reliever and an amazing way of sharing memories with fellow teammates.

Here some students’ responses when I asked them what they like being on their sports team:

Playing tennis on the team for the past years have helped me let off stress in the times that I needed most. More importantly, the team has helped me bond and be a part of a new family.
-Diane Kim (Captain of Varsity Girls Tennis) (’19)

After injuring myself playing basketball, I gave a volleyball a try. After playing for a while, I began to love the sport and be good at it which allowed me to participate on the volleyball team for the 4th year. I also love the friends I have made while being on the team; overall, I just love the sport so, so much.
-Richard Chung (’19)

– Andy Kim (’20)

Featured Image: Eliot Yun (’19)

New Faces at KIS 2018

It’s already been over two months since school started, but do we know all the new faces at KIS? Check out who some of them are and their stories.

With already three months into the school year, KIS has various new teachers and students from across the globe. Whether it is Ms. Edwards in the counseling department or Mr and Mrs Beaucham in the English department, each of these teachers and students have their own stories to share.

To learn more about who they are and their stories, Blueprint asked some of the teachers and students.

Sarah Wilson

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  1. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? Is this your first time in Korea?
    Hi, my name’s Sarah Wilson and I’m from the Netherlands, but I moved here when I was 4 so I would consider Korea more of a “home” to me than the Netherlands. I’ve lived here for 12 years now and attended another international school until transferring here this year. 


2. Why did you decide to come to KIS?
I decided to move to KIS because I had been at my past school for a long, long time and there were just a few things that made me want to look for different options. KIS was the next closest international school to where I live, so I checked it out and it seemed like a good school with nice facilities, students, and teachers. In terms of decision making, it was a lot easier to decide to move to KIS knowing I already had a friend here. So, I applied, and now I’m here!

3. How has your first two months here been?
My first two months have been pretty good. People have been really nice and welcoming, and its been much easier to adjust than expected.

4. What do you find most challenging at KIS? What do you like about KIS?
Something I found really challenging, especially in the first couple weeks here was how big the school is in comparison to my past school. I struggled a lot with finding my way around and getting from building to building, but I got the hang of it and it’s much easier now.
I really like how much bigger the school is. Not necessarily physically, but rather, the amount of students in a grade. My last school only had 30-45 people per grade, which provided a great sense of community, but I much more prefer the size of classes here at KIS.

6. What are you looking forward to this school year?
I’m looking forward to getting to know people and just get properly adjusted to the school in general. I’m also looking forward to hopefully getting more involved in the school with things like theatre, sports, etc.

 

Mr. Vogt

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  1. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? Is this your first time in Korea?
    My name is Jeff Vogt and I am from the United States. I’ve lived and worked overseas in Tokyo, Japan and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This is my first time living in Korea but I have visited a couple of times during 2012 and 2013.

 

2. Why did you decide to come to KIS?
My wife Lisa and I decided to come to Korea because we love the culture and people of not just Korea, but all of (East) Asia. Being in this region allows us to easily travel all over Asia and Southeast Asia. Additionally, my wife is a new teacher and KIS was extra supportive in helping her get into the classroom.

3. How has your first two months in Korea/KIS been?
The first two months have presented us with about every emotion possible. Happiness and excitement upon arrival to Korea, arrival to meet students and new colleagues as well as immersing ourselves in this new culture. Stress and anxiety (a little bit) because we cannot communicate that well in Korean…yet. Surprise at how awesome KIS, its’ students and faculty have been to us!

4. If you could enroll in another teacher’s class for a day, which class would you join? Why?
Probably AP Psychology (sooooooo, Ms. Hawkinson?). Where I used to work, AP Psych was well liked (and it seems that way here too) and seemed like such an interesting subject. Plus, I’m a terms guy and love learning all the new lingo! The other choice would be Eric Sampson. He just seems like he’d run such a fun, interesting physics class that I couldn’t resist!

5. What is one of your hidden talents?
Haha. Me? Hidden talent? I’d have to sadly say that I don’t have one. I’m a jack of all trades and a master of nothing.

6. What are you looking forward to this school year?
I am looking forward to continuing to build awesome relationships with my students and to help them learn and love science.

 

Ms. Williams

 

IMG_07031.Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? Is this your first time in Korea?
Because I teach Spanish, my students call me Señorita Williams. I grew up in Virginia and Puerto Rico. I most recently taught high school Spanish outside of Washington, DC for eleven years. I have also taught middle school Spanish in Virginia and bilingual kindergarten in Austin, Texas. This is my first time in Korea!

 

2. Why did you decide to come to KIS?
KIS is a strong school and great fit for me. I wanted to teach abroad so that I could learn a new language, teach in another culture, further develop as an educator, collaborate with other teachers from around the world and grow as a person. Every day, I encourage my students to challenge themselves, take a step out of their comfort zones, and integrate what they learn into their future careers. Teaching in Korea is allowing me to practice what I preach. I am excited about all the adventures it will bring!

 

3. How has your first two months in Korea/KIS  been?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two months in Korea. At KIS, everyone is supportive and welcoming, and I have enjoyed getting to know my new colleagues and students. I have had the chance to visit Seoul several times, attend a K League 1 soccer match, a Bears baseball game, travel to Taiwan and much more. Every day has some kind of adventure and I am loving it!

4. If you could enroll in another teacher’s class for a day, which class would you join? Why?
I would enroll in a technology course! Technology has changed significantly in the years since I was in school. My previous school was known for its robotics program and I was always intrigued by the program so I attended some of their competitions when possible. As at my previous high school, the enthusiasm of all of the instructors at KIS is contagious!

5. What is one of your hidden talents?
I can play the cello and walk at the same time!

6. What are you looking forward to this school year?
I am looking forward to a year filled with teaching and learning, travel, adventures, and laughter. Many days have challenges but every day is a blessing to me. I am thankful for this experience and the opportunity to work at KIS with its administrators, teachers, students, and parents!

Madison Rhee

IMG_06911. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? Is this your first time in Korea?
My name is Madison Rhee. I have lived in the United States for four years, and before, I have lived in South Korea during elementary school years.  

2. Why did you decide to come to KIS?
We were looking for international schools located in South Korea, and it seemed to us that KIS had the best reputation out of all.

3. How has your first two months here been?The first week of school as a new student was, as expected, quite chaotic. Finding my way around campus and being surrounded by unfamiliar people was overwhelming at first. However, with the help of numerous affable people, I was able to adapt to KIS quickly, and so far everything has been going very well for me.

4. What do you find most challenging at KIS? What do you like about KIS?
I really like how KIS offers a variety of extracurricular activities that students can choose from. I think this allows students to prepare for their future in a way by providing an opportunity to pursue their interests and dreams outside of academics and helps them to become well rounded. I am sure I will be facing academic challenges throughout the year, but as of now one of challenges at KIS is getting used to the stairs.

5. What is one of your hidden talents?
One of my hidden talents is solving a Rubik’s cube!

6. What are you looking forward to this school year?
I am looking forward to making more new friends and participating in many activities this year!

 

Mr. Parker

IMG_07141. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? Is this your first time in Korea?
My name is Peter Parker, a name which I share with a rather famous Marvel comic book hero. I was born in Ireland, but immigrated to Canada. I have been teaching internationally for 21 years and have worked in Colombia, China, Paraguay, Ecuador, Kazakhstan and now Korea. Yes, I have visited Korea before, the first time in 2001 and have attended SEOMUN the past three years.

2. Why did you decide to come to KIS?
I have always been interested in Korea as a country to work in and when the opportunity came up to work at KIS came up, it felt like a good match. Also, I have many friends who have worked at KIS and I had heard good things about the school and life in Korea.

3. How has your first two months in Korea/KIS  been?
It has been a bit of a whirlwind, but in a good way. I like Seoul as a city, but also the little bit of the countryside that I have seen. I have also felt very welcomed by my teaching colleagues, who have been supportive and encouraging as I transition to KIS.And, my students have been awesome.

4. If you could enroll in another teacher’s class for a day, which class would you join? Why?
Oooohhhh…this is a bit more of a toughie, largely because I am still getting to know the teachers. I have heard that Ms. Surette’s MS Science class is cool, in the HS…just about any of my colleagues in the Social Studies department.

5. What is one of your hidden talents?
Like my famous namesake, I prefer that my talents stay hidden…although my spider senses do tingle at times.

6. What are you looking forward to this school year?
Transitioning to a new school always comes with challenges, but so far I have been really impressed by the quality staff and students at KIS. I am most looking forward to getting settled and building relationships with the KIS community. Outside of the classroom I am excited about exploring different aspects of Korea…the culture, the food and the nature.
There are many more faculty and students who are new to our family—make sure to welcome and hear their stories!

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Photos: Sejoon Chang (’21)

 

True Magic: KIS’s Beauty and the Beast as a Testament to the Power of Theater

KIS’s very own theater department put on their spring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Complete with sold-out tickets and standing ovations, the show not only broke records for the school but shed a light on the sheer power and joy of dramatic performance.

“Theater is an empathy machine,” says Ms. Cuellar, and the cast and crew of KIS’s recent production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast could not agree more. It was a successful show in every way possible, definitely leaving a tangible mark in the history of KIS theater, but it now stands to represent something much larger than that— a visualization of what it means to connect, work together, and create beauty with fellow human beings.

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The townspeople made a striking entrance with the opening number, “Belle”.

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Gaston was not only the villain, but the antithesis of the play’s central theme of true love.

Beauty and the Beast made new strides and broke records that will certainly be difficult to top in the future. Tickets were sold out for the first time in KIS theater history, with additional chairs being brought in for the Friday night performance to accommodate a more-than-full house of 446 people. 1046 tickets were sold in total, the highest number for any KIS show to date, multiple people buying repeated tickets to watch the show a second time. And, of course, each performance ended in a booming standing ovation— not yet a common sight in KIS theater. Sydney Langford, the choreographer who worked with the cast and crew from the very beginning of the rehearsal process in January, said that “I’ve worked with this department before for The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, but the Beauty and the Beast production was next level since the first rehearsal… In my honest opinion, [they] have truly outdone every high school production in the world.”

And most of the magic did not happen onstage. It happened on the paint-stained aprons of the art students that decorated the set, in every hinge and nail the stagecraft students drilled into the sophisticated rotating stages, and in each poster and decoration put up by the front of house crew. It happened in the hidden darkness of the pit orchestra and the hushed quiet of the light booth, where the aural and visual components came together in extraordinary chemistry. It happened in the velvet folds of the curtains the run crew closed swiftly after each entrance and exit. Without the strikingly realistic food items made by the props crew, Be Our Guest would not have been the captivating number it was, and without the iconic blue dress or the shimmering golden makeup, characters like Belle and Lumiere would not have come alive onstage in the same way.

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The castle servant characters were well-noted for their costumes and camaraderie.

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Be Our Guest received lengthy applause each night.

Such unbelievable hard work and cooperation showed its fruition in the audience that soon became a part of the magic. Even non-KIS students and adults came to watch the show. Blueprint collected 8 reviews from the audience. All of them rated the show 5 stars out of 5, and most named Be Our Guest as their favorite song from the show. One audience member said they were impressed not only by the lead actors, but rather the “whole cast because I could see for myself that there was not a single role that was not important”. Another audience member even described it as: “it was like Broadway came to KIS and had affordable billing for twice the excitement”.

“ The stage, the acting, and the witty lines really brought this production to life. Even the costumes felt like they legitimately came from the Disney movie. I barely even realized that three hours had passed. My only regret is coming to watch it only once on Saturday night, when there were three other showings.” —Jaehong Park (9)

“I’ve watched every single show from the theatre department and I am confident that Beauty and the Beast was the best one so far. I can’t believe that this was a high school production. I would watch it again and again and I would be amazed every time.” —Alice Yoo (12)

But while the audience members only came across the final product, every member of the cast and crew know that the process was what was truly valuable, having each felt to the core how powerful theater is. Studies have shown that involvement in drama activities increases students’ self-esteem, reading comprehension, and academic confidence. But beyond such benefits, there is something genuinely out of the ordinary about the KIS theater community. Each member is welcomed into a family, where everyone is accepted for who they are. For many students who join, theater is the first space they ever feel so comfortable in their own skin.

This is why the bonds forged in theater often transcend beyond high school. The upperclassmen—underclassmen barrier that invariably exists in every other class and club in Korea suddenly dissipates. Beauty and the Beast was a true exemplar of this; combining middle and high schoolers together in the cast and crew caused no rifts or divides, as one would expect. In fact, during rehearsals, 11th- and 12th- graders enjoyed bantering with 6th- and 7th- graders as much as they enjoyed the company of peers their age. Anyone present during rehearsals would have testified to the incredibly supportive environment, where everyone was striving to build each other up and create a collectively positive experience for all. It would be safe to say that there is the least amount of negative “drama” to be witnessed in the drama department.

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Mrs. Potts and Chip were not the only characters to begin crying by the finale on Saturday night.

So it is no surprise that the entire cast and crew broke into frenzied tears following the last curtain call on Saturday night. It marked the end of a journey— costumes to be taken off for the last time, the set to be walked for the last time, the curtain to fall for the last time. Dozens of people continued to sob for hours straight, embracing everyone they came across. As heartbreaking as it was, the scene almost had a certain humor to it: students would begin to calm down, only to come across yet another face they had shared this experience with and break into tears all over again.

But the end of this show really is no heartbreak. It is a memory now, to be smiled upon and cherished. It has forged a little birdhouse of love in each student’s heart, where theater will forever have a place to live. The production has come to an end, but it has given something indispensable to each individual that partook in its magic, to be carried forth into dozens of lives. The power of art truly is a tale as old as time. On the hardwood floor of the stage, where the odds and ends of the high school social scene come together to expand each other’s creativity, where the very definition of humanity is amplified, a certain James Barrie quote seems more relevant than ever—”those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

-Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

Picture credits to Sara Kim

KIS Needs #MeToo

What is the #MeToo movement, why is it so relevant, how does it matter in Korea— and in KIS? Why should we care? Read the article to stay aware, and to read what KIS students have to say about sexual harassment and assault— the voices that have been silenced for too long. This should not be invisible any longer.

“This is not a male thing or a female thing, it is not a Hollywood thing or a political thing, this is a human thing. And it happens in the workplace, it happens in families, it happens all over the world, and we’re all the same.” 

– Ellen DeGeneres

Every woman in our lives has experienced a slice of this world that they never wanted a glimpse of— sexism, misogyny, and sexual objectification. At some point, these realities cease to shock us. They become part of the air we breathe. They do not surface in conversations. The sicker the injustice, the heavier the cover-up, and the subtler the culture, the more invisible its grip.

It has long since reached boiling point.

And now, a worldwide phenomenon now has fed-up women breaking the silence.

The Me Too Movement protests the pervasive culture of sexual assault and harassment. It spread virally online in October 2017, mostly as a social media hashtag used by victims in order to demonstrate the issue’s pervasive and widespread nature, as well as expressing solidarity by sharing their own experience. Countless brave women and men have spoken out with their stories, including top celebrities exposing the rotten core of their industry.

The Washington Post has called this an “open secret”: something hidden, and yet also well-known. “It happens, everyone knows it, but no one talks about it.” This extends beyond just an individual’s lust and misdeeds— it has to do with the larger culture, the power structure that makes up the very basis of society. While this is often discussed in the context of Hollywood, where someone important can make or break your career and use that power to gain advantage over you, this could not be truer in Korean society.

In this country, the Confucian roots are deep and long-running. From these roots rise a strictly hierarchical system that affects every family, school, and workplace. And when this top-down, vertically structured culture meets a country characterized by an unusually wide gender pay gap and a seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling, it becomes so easy for mere misogyny to flower into harassment, then into assault. No wonder, then, that the Me Too movement in Korea takes a slightly different flavor, distinct from that in America. It fights through multiple layers.

Rape and harassment may sound like such distant concepts, but they really are not. The root of the problem is in this culture where sexual objectification is accepted and sometimes even encouraged. Where does this culture start? School. Yes— sexism, objectification, verbal and sometimes even physical harassment is present in KIS, too, no matter how unaware we may be about it. At the most basic level, it surfaces in “locker room talk” discussing female students’ bodies; at the most extreme level, it is in student relationships where one party is coerced into unwanted physical contact.

But “boys will be boys”, it is said.

“Teens will be teens,” it is said.

And thus the “taboo” topic is never discussed, the victims too afraid to speak up, and outsiders too shrouded in blissful ignorance.

But how should we feel, knowing perpetrators of this crooked culture sit uncorrected in our classrooms, laughing with their friends and wearing a clean reputation like a gleaming armor?

Blueprint interviewed two KIS high school students about the issue, “Mary Kim” and “Mia Choi”.  (Fictional names are being used for anonymity. The interviewees have been brave in sharing their perspectives; readers are asked to be respectful and refrain from speculation.)

“It happens when the guy thinks it’s okay to treat [sexual advances] as something casual because you’re in a relationship and you feel that it’s an obligation to make them happy [through such acts].” – Mary

Students can be especially vulnerable because they lack the age or experience in navigating relationships.

“I experienced sexual assault from my partner. I never knew something like this would ever happen to me[…] honestly, I thought it would be less common [here] since Korea is such a conservative country. I think people should know that this can happen to anyone with anyone.” – Mia

Because the issue is never discussed, victims are caught completely unaware once it happens, and are left without systems of support.

“Since it was my first time being in a relationship, I thought it was normal. I felt violated and scared, yet I had nobody to talk to, since I didn’t want to [worry my parents].”  Mia

Victim-blaming is an entire issue by itself; in the aftermath of such experiences, students feel silenced and guilty, trapped in self-blame. The sensitivity of the issue prevents healthy conversation and communication.

“Some guys think [victims are] just being stupid and not standing up for themselves. But actually being in that perspective, it’s difficult to refuse because it feels like [your partner] has a certain power over you.” – Mary

“I had a really hard time since I felt that everything was my fault. [I thought] I should have said no louder, or that maybe if I told someone, I would not have gone through it. [But] it is never the victim’s fault and no always means no. [Even now,] I still struggle to not blame myself.”  Mia

Mia said she thought she could fight it off alone, but that she was wrong. Shame on all of us for sustaining such a climate, in which sexual rumours and gossip is allowed to pervade the student body without being called out. Why should the Me Too movement ground to a halt when it comes to the school setting? Why is it that KIS students are given extensive lessons on college admissions or “leaving a legacy”, but are never taught about consent? Where are the conversations about rights and respect? Where is the awareness around sexism or date rape? Where are the support systems?

There is only silence here.

If a candlelit protest was enough to reverse a corrupt government, this movement now attempts to reverse a corrupt society. Not everyone can be a trailblazer, breaking barriers and punching down walls, but at the very least, we can be #Withyou. We have the choice to recognize that even if we ourselves haven’t experienced it, and none of our close friends have, that does not in any way mean that it does not happen. Because it does. And it’s time to wake up to that. We have the choice to sympathize with victims and express solidarity instead of shaming them or reducing them to chewed-up pieces of gossip. We have the choice to stop conversational objectification the next time we hear it. We have the choice to be With Them, not against.

– Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

Featured Image: https://parismatch.be/actualites/societe/83810/mouvement-me-too-vieux-10-ans-plus-hashtag

Source: Washington Post visual documentary “Hollywood’s greatest betrayal: How sexual predators operate in plain sight” https://www.facebook.com/washingtonpost/videos/197021417560598/

In Our Own Backyard Recap

The heart wrenching, emotional, and discussion-sparking fall production– let’s hear it from the cast and crew.

Cue stage lights, cue music, cue the tranquilizing silence of the crowd and the escalation of the heart’s thundering.  The familiar ring of a school bell commenced the start of two hours of the actors’ most heartbreaking, passionate, touching, and unforgettable theatre production.

In Our Own Backyard, the high school theatre’s fall production shed light on issues that are normally unnoticeable or even concealed by our society.  The cast of this production tackled the issue of bullying in a school setting, diving beneath the obvious layer we see and uncovering the depressing effects of bullying.  Unlike previous years when the fall plays leaned towards humorous and optimistic stories, this year’s more depressing and serious production became a valuable learning opportunity for all the students involved to grow and change as an individual.  

This play would not have been possible without, of course, the actors, backstage crew, stage managers, and teachers.  

Ashley Na (‘21), a first-time actor, described the play as “very dark, but we all hugged each other after especially heavy scenes and it really brought us closer together to create a bond that will never be forgotten.”

Noah Kim (‘18), 7th production: “I love acting: the goosebumps on my arm, my legs shaking, the adrenaline fueling me.  My addiction to this feeling is why I want to keep doing this activity. The camaraderie of the theater community has brought me some of my closest friends.”

Ashley Kwon (‘20), Stage Manager: “My role was to make sure everyone was on task, give cues to the sound and lighting booth, and make sure blue-ribbon month gave a positive impact to our KIS high school!”

Opening night for the cast can be nerve-wracking, especially for first-time actors, and even experienced actors are prone to mistakes.  Even Joey Park, an experienced senior actor who has been involved in several productions throughout his high school career, admitted to a funny mistake on opening night.  “As soon as I stepped my foot on stage on the opening night, I tripped and fell on Noah’s foot. I was really nervous from the beginning, but as soon as that happened, I panicked. The audience gasped and the actors on stage looked at me with shock. However, this got me more of a reason to hate the character, and I used that anger to motivate me for the rest of the play”.  

As the three nights of the production came to an end and the final curtain dropped, the hard work and determination of the actors were recognized by the showering of applause.  Several people from the audience, standing up and giving standing ovations truly reflected the valuable experience of a wider global perspective and growth as a student.  

– Michelle Shin (’21)