This Is It!

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The early days of K4 and K5 said hi and waved goodbye. So did 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd. Don’t exclude 4th and 5th grade. They did the same to me too. It doesn’t feel that long ago, but truly, reality hits hard: it’s been 14 years. A split second later we transfer to Middle School, the memorable crazy days of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. The race called “High School” that at first seemed forever is ending, as the finish line looms up in less than 2 weeks’ time. Who on Earth think’s they’re ready? It’s the final countdown, the climax for me and my peers.

Making the most out of Senior Year has been the golden rule I stuck with the entire time. Truly, the “I just want to graduate” mindset has begun to contradict itself, as with time slipping away, there are still many things I still wish I had more time to achieve. As a whole, I learned to not be afraid of trying new things, especially activities that are new to me like performing! There is only a small window of opportunity left this year, which I am presented with 2 choices: either to leave it to pass or create long-lasting memories. Spending time with the awesome people I’ve grown more familiar with over the years is key, as soon we’ll be strewn all over the globe, with the likelihood of not seeing each other again. Especially over High School, it’s been such a wonder I got to know more people both in my grade and the underclassmen over the years, through the classes I had from time to time! No matter how short time my time in ICS is left, the ultimate message forever speaks true: this is where I belong.

If you ask me of what I’ll remember most of this place, I’ll honestly tell you it’s too numerous to count. From discovering my love of heavy metal back in Middle School to the awesome High School trips like Eagles’ Camps, SALT Trips, and the very meaningful Senior Trip, I will remember how this community encourages me to LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST. To rock it out with great friends and grow in my relationship towards Christ Jesus. All those familiar faces of friends and the cordial smiles of understanding teachers is why I call ICS “my 2nd home.” The place where tight-knit friendships are made, such as through the Mulan Jr. an unforgettable bond of teamwork I shared with the cast!

To this great place and people I offer a heartfelt thanks, and will always cherish the pride of being a part of the Class of 2019. A great life of 14 years is close to being complete, with memories that will forever last a lifetime. God bless, love you all, and Eagles forever, the best is yet to come. Nineteen forever. 


Damage and Healing Blogs

As imperfect human beings, we live in a world of damage. No matter what social standing we hold or what region of the world we come from, we all have our own experiences of damage. It’s totally not limited to only apartheid-era South Africa. An ineveitable part of life every human being faces as he or she spends time on Earth before their time is up. This is not limited to our lives, but is shown as a powerful message through Alan Patton’s Cry, The Beloved Country. Whether it’s a family torn apart, poverty, discrimination, etc. added with how painful these situations may be, the hope of healing is also present in our world.

Through Stephen Kumalo’s story from start to finish, Alan Paton presents the message of accepting our human imperfection as a source of healing. Hatred is the root of all suffering, with one side striving to be stronger than the another. In Stephen Kumalo’s case, this is not the end result. Shown through the peaceful bond shared between James Jarvis and Stephen Kumalo, scenarios that laid foundations for the breeding ground of hatred became breeding grounds of forgiveness and reconciliation. Jarvis himself even admits that he is not a saint to the father of the very person who killed his son. Jarvis willingly accepts Stephen Kumalo despite the damage done by Absalom, lending a helping hand to him, his church, and the people of Ndotsheni. As an act of showing respect to Jarvis and his actions, Stephen Kumalo and the villagers of Ndotsheni work together for a wreath for Jarvis, as an act of thankfulness, understanding, and condolence to Jarvis whose wife passed away.

In my damage projects, mine focuses on a broken society where poverty leads to crime. People like Gertrude, despite knowing that what they’re doing is both morally and spiritually wrong, continue selling their bodies against their own will in order to make ends meet. Despite never wanting to hurt or kill anyone, people like Absalom break into homes with hopes of money to support their poor selves and families. In these conflicts, Alan Paton offers the message of acceptance as an answer to this very conflict on poverty-related crime. We must be like Stephen Kumalo, forgiving and accepting others as they are the same imperfect creature that we are. No matter who they are, especially in this case, family, acceptance leads to reconciliation. Through reconciliation, we can accept others as they are, rather than viewing them as savages with hatred.

In the end, Paton also offers the solution of love. Love breaks down all boundaries, no matter what troubles lay along the way. Paton’s love message sticks true to the Bible, as love is not rude, not selfish, and does not get upset with others. It accepts all things and no matter what lays ahead, and endures forever. Forgiveness is key according to Paton, especially to bridge together a society torn apart. As stated around the end of the book, by the time the white man learns how to love, the black man will learn of how to hate. All of this damage could be healed, however, if there is acceptance among one another. In a damaged world where nobody is perfect, forgiveness is crucial, to fix the damages that were done. 

Internal Damage: Superiority

When we talk about damage, we usually associate it with something breaking or not being in the condition it should be in. A bent up car after a car crash. A home totally or significantly ruined by factors such as a fire or storm. A broken glass window resulting from a flying ball. It doesn’t have to go that far, however. It is, in fact, extremely close by: it’s internal. As shown through the life of Reverend Stephen Kumalo in Cry, The Beloved Country, many painful events have taken their toll around his own life: his tribe falling apart, his only son Absalom imprisoned, his sister Gertrude becoming a prostitute, and a great man for civil rights, Arthur Jarvis, assassinated, etc. All are examples of society falling apart around Stephen, in which the damage increases day by day, thanks to the damage which comes from inside of peoples’ hearts: the desire for superiority.

The internal damage of society could be compared to the situation in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a book I read in 10th grade British Literature class. Stranded on an island following a plane crash, the schoolboys attempt to start a civilization for their own survival. One of the boys, Ralph, is appointed as leader and leads an expedition of the island. In the moment, Jack, an aggressive boy who is part of the group focuses on killing the pigs he comes across rather than focusing on their own survival. This eventually is the start of their society falling apart, as instead of building shelters and maintaining a fire to signal a ship, the civilization soon succumbs to savagery and recklessness. A conspiracy of a “beast” that will kill them all soon spreads around the camp, worsened by the discovery of the corpse of a dead paratrooper who parachuted onto the island. The attempt to uncover the “beast” conspiracy ultimately results with the death of Simon, the allegorical Christ-like character of a book. With the civilization on the verge of collapse, Jack and the majority of the boys breaks away to create a tribe of their own on savagery, while Ralph and a few other remain behind. Ralph and whoever is left later attempt to appeal to Jack’s new tribe as civilized people, resulting in Ralph nearly getting himself killed by Jack, who set the forest on fire, ironically signaling a ship which showed up and and rescue them all.

The internal desire of superiority over one another showcased in Lord of the Flies is also shown in Cry, The Beloved Country. Revolving around the life of Africans like Stephen Kumalo, Europeans, people with a higher social standing view themselves superior compared the natives of South Africa. Therefore, the Natives force the natives to work in the mines, employed with abuse. With the natives exploited through unfair wages, discrimination, and forced to live in shanty towns, savagery in Johannesburg runs wild, a connection Jack’s theme of savagery in Lord of the Flies. The two races are separated despite being in the same country, with excuses of civilized and uncivilized used to justify the situation. The cultural beauty of native tribes and the original way of life has been overshadowed by violence, resulting in the natives going on strike for more money working in the mines. This is literally the scenario of Lord of the Flies, a well-intentioned society succumbing and separating from the realm of good to savagery and evil.

Arthur Jarvis himself, a well known social worker for the black people and their living conditions is an allegorical Christ-like figure like Simon in Lord of the Flies. Arthur Jarvis came down from the countryside to live in Johannesburg as a justice fighter for the native African people, handling numerous programs intended to help the natives who were neglected, viewed, and treated inferior compared to the whites. Arthur Jarvis even wrote a manuscript criticizing South Africa’s hypocrite Christianity, blaming whites for using Christianity to justify that blacks were created by God to serve whites, rather than loving each other and functioning together as one in a society. Arthur Jarvis, in the end, was killed by Absalom, the man Arthur Jarvis “would have prevented his own forthcoming death.” This connects to Simon, whose attempt to explain that there was no beast resulted in his own life taken. 

In the end, the internal moral damage of a person’s desire to be superior leads to brokenness that affects the life of Arthur Jarvis. Reverend Stephen Kumalo himself is a Christ like figure too, as he risked his life in Johannesburg to do anything that would help his son Absalom, no matter the cost. Personal beliefs of superior is the root of society falling apart, as shown through Cry, The Beloved Country and Lord of the Flies. They are internal brokenness indeed, damaging society both internally and morally. 




Che’s Call for Action

Bringing social medicine to a society doesn’t take only “revolutionary doctors.” It could take anyone, whatever occupation they hold. Every person’s occupation comes from the foundation of knowledge, which could be used beneficially more than just for ourselves but for others’ benefit too. In my case, my planned future career is to become a high school teacher, teaching English or History at an international school like what Mr. Mark is doing! 🙂 

Teaching is a great opportunity to become a “social doctor,” as to be a teacher is literally to serve! A teacher serves others by stimulating and giving knowledge to students, in order to prepare them for the real world ahead. Students, no matter how intelligent or unintelligent they are, are still members of the same society. Helping others is a primary message conveyed, as students must learn how to help themselves survive and be a functioning member of society. Teaching brings a greater purpose in society, as it’s a way students learn the world isn’t a place for only one person, but a place for everyone. It disciplines students so see equality in the community, which is the school they receive education from, and to take pride in whoever they are in the ways they make up a society.

From the knowledge students receive, students can choose to adapt it in their own ways and help build society into a better place. A teacher can have lasting influences on students, which encourages a student to continue doing their best in their life. I also believe that I could use skills of my future vocation in influencing others, especially through the subject that I want to teach: History! Teaching and learning together about society’s past, both good things and bad things in order to prevent the bad things from repeating itself. Emphasizing the importance of equality and the past in society, teaching is a revolution itself, having others learn of the past an bringing positive social change to the world. 

Responsible Tourist

As a world traveller myself, traveling is one of the greatest things I hold close to my heart. The the exciting experience to leave home and explore the wonders of the world, its diverse cultures, and the beauty of places we don’t call home. A very important part of my life, traveling gives me a new perspective of life in every journey I undertake. To be able to see how other cultures differ from our own and the unique ways they sometimes overlap!

Being a responsible tourist is not hard at all, as long as we have heart and are willing to be patient. For me, a responsible tourist is one who chooses to travel more than just the highlights. Don’t always follow TripAdvisor; you have your freedom to explore! You won’t have any understanding from those popular “city skim tours,” but if you devote time in a country, it will subconsciously show you around! I learned this lesson on my trip to Cambodia, as Angkor Wat isn’t the only historical wonder in Siem Riep, Cambodia! Stomach a few worthy hours on a bus ride deeper into the heart of Cambodia, welcomed into the temples of Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Banteay Srei, centuries-old Khom cities attractive to the eye! A responsible tourist is also one who returns with new goals for the life. Take me for example, a frequently traveller, I once considered to major in Tourism, to work in the tourism field or either become a tour guide!

In the end, the best way to travel to a foreign place is to allow yourself a good amount of freedom. Don’t be afraid to visit lesser-known places; there’s less people which makes your whole experience more authentic and natural! Learn new things from unique places where others have never been to before, giving you the chance to tell others great things their eyes must see for themselves! Respect other cultures as you travel, as the things you consider unimportant might bear great importance for the people of that foreign land. Consider every trip like an invitation to a friend’s home, enjoying beauty and respect to whatever wonder you are offered for your time period far away from home. Take up the role of a responsible tourist, learning and taking every great journey home. 



Dubrovnik, The Crown of Croatia

What’s best to describe Dubrovnik? Spectacular, no other words may comply. The shining gem of the Adriatic sea, an awestruck highlight close to the nearby Mediterranean. Proudly each day she welcomes travelers of all ages, through historic stone streets, notable bell towers, and windy avenues under the sunny blue sky. The ultimate symbol of Croatian pride, the town tells her own story, every new tale on each beautiful side.

Receive the warm welcome of the massive city walls, the loyal old fort guarding the “Pearl of the Adriatic” as you stroll leisurely into the Stradun, the picturesque and historical limestone street restored back to its original glory. Nice and proud at the street’s end stands the Square of Loggia, the town’s famous meeting point, added up with the Church of St. Blaise, boasting priceless works of art and it’s baroque facade. This “historic Dubrovnik” side remains ever reminiscent of its dark days, telling the story of how Croatia came to be. Structures with significant war damage are intentionally left nearby for people to glance at, along with a small museum with bullet-ridden walls, in memorial of the Croatian War of Independence. Once a pretty town of Yugoslavia wrecked by Serbian bombs in 1991, Dubrovnik emerges proud, bestowed the title as a UNESCO city under the tricolored Croatian flag.

A few streets away from the church and the square lies the commerce side of town, the old port and life of Dubrovnik itself! Stand and breath in fresh Adriatic air while the bright rays of sun refreshes you, shining down upon the turquoise waters of the port. A beautiful mix of culture and modernization plays out in the scenery, with modern tourist boats moving in and out as historic stone forts and centuries-old bell towers glance down from above. Stroll onwards and get invited into cafes of the old streets or choose to leisure at the souvenir shops nearby.

Outside the old town walls awaits the “New Dubrovnik,” where a touch of modernity makes contact with the old city. Hotels of all prices and a cable car stands waving, all irresistible temptations for tourists to reconsider is it time to leave town yet or not. Taking people above ground and offering them panoramic view of red tiled roofs, long stone city walls, centuries old cathedrals and bell towers, the true panoramic scenery of Dubrovnik that any person won’t forget. The marvelous city where the history and modernity mixes together on all sides, waiting for tourists to explore the highlights one after the other. My family and I spent our last morning in Croatia exploring, mesmerized by this “Pearl of the Adriatic” before the time to leave Croatia had come. 





SE Asia Unit Reflections

As complicated as they may be, societal issues aren’t as easy to solve as they may seem to be. At our very doorstep, problems plague society as we gaze helplessly, realizing how little we can do to control them. Highlighted clearly in Chart Korbjitti’s book No Way Out, we explore the injustices that plague society, restraining freedom and glory from the lives of many. I now think of social issues in a different way too, seeing it as an aspect of human life that is not caused only by poverty which we would usually think of, but an aspect of life that most of the time originates from lack of education and the advantage people take on each other as well. No matter abiding or not abiding with morality, people struggle to survive in the world of injustice what affects everyone in different levels in life.

From our discussion of societal problems, the issue that intrigued me the most is the prostitution. Even though we say it’s immoral, we quickly learn that the poor do in it due to having no other choice. Rather than sit still and starve, women allow their bodies to be drugged and taken advantage of in hope of a few banknotes. They willingly choose this path of life, providing considerable income at the cost of risking pregnancy. A hard issue indeed, this puts onlookers like me in an uncomfortable position. Despite my despise and view of prostitution as wrong, I quickly learned that poor don’t have really any other options, which we cannot blame as their fault. Their lack of education hinders their options even more, added with the growing price of basic necessities in the market each passing day. The fate of better jobs are sealed due to the shame prostitution brings on a person, thwarting their hopes of a life with steady income in jeopardy. As a painful factor that drives families apart, people still sacrifice their well made bodies with hopes of a better life.

In the end, the ways that issues like these are handled must be changed in society. Instead of simply letting people know of the issue with hopes that someone will stand up for others’ benefit one day, people with opportunities must step in before the issues spiral out of control. In the case of prostitution, others in society must not look down on these hopeless individuals but approach them with care, providing better options to find money rather than leaving them in the realm of prostitution. The elimination of disgust and discrimination would lead to this issue being handled better in society. Same applies for human rights abuses in the fishing industry as fishermen, no matter how poor they are, should not be looked down too. They are like us, human beings struggling to survive in a harsh world. With all nonsense excuses set aside, a change can be made in society for the benefit of everyone, no matter how rich or poor they are.


As dark and painful as it always will be, suffering is the reality people face, highlighted in Chart Korbjitti’s No Way Out. Families take extreme lengths to support themselves day by day. From the book, suffering exists thanks to the rich taking advantage of the poor. This is shown through Boonma, a hardworking fisherman struggling to support his family and pay off debts. The fish caught wasn’t for him and his family at all, but rather for the rich towkay’s company, building wealth on the back of poverty-ridden men like him. Rather than giving money to the poor, Boonma was taken advantage of again with  his debt being transferred to another towkay, with the interest rising higher than the original, an unjust situation for him to suffer in.

The answer to the question of evil and suffering is to take action and make a change. Ort’s symbolic film Revenge of the Ducks explores this concept. The villians (the rich) took advantage of the duck (the poor) by killing the duck’s mother. The orphaned duck, along with a dog, cat, and butterfly kills the villians in the end, symbolizing the poor’s desire to get back to the rich who made them suffer. By taking action, a change could be made to let the world know of injustice, for the good of everyone. Karmic justice being questioned is explored too, particularly through Ort, who wondered why he was unfairly born poor and couldn’t be like other kids: rich and sitting in cars as he sold newspapers to keep his family alive. The previous life’s sins and the afterlife was questioned by Boonma’s grandfather too, wondering what sins he committed in his “believed” previous life. Still, he chose suicide in the end, thinking that the afterlife is better than him being here and causing the others to suffer. 

In the end, I personally believe that suffering as a whole is caused mainly by the causes already outlined in No Way Out. While others suffer, heartless individuals become wealthy through cheating others on money and treating them inhumanely. This is shown though the skipper refusing to help the dying fisherman, along with blaming him for being greedy with money even though the irony was playing out. To take action is to make a change, which is why I agree with Ort’s symbolic film, the Revenge of the Duck, a powerful story in the perspective of a slum kid. Still, I believe that a good God exists in a world of so much suffering and evil. Rather than questioning karmic justice and the sins of the previous life, we must give our life and believe in this good providing God who will never let go. As stated in Psalms 34:18-19, “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have troubles, but the Lord delivers him from all of them.” A good God who understands His creation exists in the world of suffering, and will help the suffering, hopeless, and guilty to have hope again in this one life they have. 

Christmas Reading Blog – The Things They Carried

The Things They Carried was the book I read during the Christmas break. I enjoyed it, spending more time reading it day by day before finishing it a few days before the New Year’s Eve. A raw first hand account by Tim O’Brien, the author painted me a picture of his experience in the Vietnam War: how it affected him and his perspective on it as a whole. This is shown through intense situations such as trying to survive in harsh muddy conditions, seeing his friends die in gory ways, seeing how other people become mentally affected by the war, trying to stay alive in intense battles, and his view on the people he knew who fought alongside him. 

I found this story relatable to The Book Thief, as it proves war is misery for everyone. Not everyone supports it, such as Hans Hubermann, one of the 10% of Germans who didn’t support Adolf Hitler. Hans was forced against own will by getting drafted, forcing him to leave behind Max and his family. Similarly in The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien was one of the people who didn’t support the Vietnam War. Against his own will, the normal American civilian was drafted, forced into the army to prevent dishonor coming to himself, his family, and his home country. The war that followed was not only painful for the Vietnamese, but also traumatic for American soldiers, a similar situation faced by the Germans at war and the persecuted Jews during World War 2.

The concept of morality, which we discussed in the previous units is related to The Things They Carried too. O’Brien never wanted to kill the Viet Cong soldier, but was forced to do so due to his duty. This shows his sense of morality, as he is forever haunted by his action and regrets taking the Viet Cong soldier’s life. This is similar to Wang Lung, who treated O-lan inferior due to his duty as husband, strongly influenced by Chinese culture back then. Relatable to O’Brien, he regrets his actions after the other person is already dead, which shows the hidden sense of morality he has. No matter how strict a person’s duty may be, it’s never powerful enough to damage a person’s sense of morality.

Lastly, The Things They Carried is a book that I will never forget. It doesn’t only reflect human nature and the message of why war is bad, but brings up lots of great questions that regard life and religion as well. It reflects how short life is, and why we should make the most of it. We must be ready for the day it will be taken from us and hold strong in what we believe in, for example Kiowa who believed in Christ and the New Testament. It’s a good lesson on why friendship should be treasured, as the people you love may be with you today but may never be seen again tomorrow. Tim O’Brien was close to the members of his division (Kiowa, Rat Kiley, Ted Lavender, etc.) who would be talking with him one day and be killed in the day after. All what is left of them are memories of them, thanks to the bond they shared among one another. I will never regret reading The Things They Carried, a great book with deep messages and serious topics that reflect the importance of life. 


Joseph Moses Lang – A Holocaust Survivor’s Story


Joseph Moses Lang was a Jewish teenager who was transported to Auschwitz on his 17th birthday, never to see his mother and sister again. At Auschwitz, Lang lied to the guards that he was 19 and stood on his tiptoes to look tall, in order to be with Meir, his older brother. The Nazis were looking for strong workers and believed Lang, resulting in both of them being sent to Dachau Concentration Camp as laborers. They were later transferred to Allach Concentration Camp, where they endured harsh labor in which various atrocities were performed on them. Lang was severely beaten, yet alone sprayed with bug poison, resulting in him having skin cancer for the rest of his life. He was also sent to a “dentist” who “removed” his wisdom teeth with a hammer and chisel, resulting in severe bleeding. He also forced to run 4 laps around the barracks yard with a dog chasing him on another occasion. Despite being bit on the neck by the dog after tripping on the 3rd lap, he was still forced to run despite being severely injured.

Luckily for Lang, Allach was liberated in 1945. However, he would be separated from Meir who needed 6 months of treatment after contracting Typhus. Still, they promised to meet each other again after Lang’s journey home to search for remaining family members. The search was overall fruitless, with Lang only discovered a few members of his mother’s family. Once the time to leave home came, Lang’s older uncle joined him on the journey to Belgrade to meet up with an underground group that would take Jews to Israel, which wasn’t an independent state yet. The rough journey by boat to Israel for Lang and his uncle included an 8 month stop in Cyprus, before finally reaching the Promised Land in 1948. He was reunited with Meir a year later there, where both got married and raised families of their own. Lang would become a carpenter and woodworking teacher, a wonderful new life for him. Despite Meir later dying from an agricultural accident in the 1970s, Joseph Moses Lang would live on to tell his story to the world, despite having skin cancer and feeling uncomfortable to talk about his experience for a while. Still, he feels that it’s time now to tell his story as a survivor of World War 2’s Holocaust to the world. 

I found Joseph Moses Lang’s story to be very powerful, as it reflects the atrocities of mankind. This indicates why we all should make every effort to prevent these horrible events from happening again. The Jews are humans too, and it is never right for other people like the Nazis to consider themselves superior. Lang’s experience reflects how it is to be oppressed, an experience for others who consider their race superior than other’s to see how they would feel if they were oppressed like him. How detailed Lang is in storytelling made the story very memorable for me, as he clearly describes the pain he was forced to endure, such as being sprayed with bug poison, a heinous act committed indeed. Lang’s determination for a new life after Allach’s liberation makes this story memorable too, as it’s a good lesson to the world that if you are determined to accomplish something, reach for it no matter what. This is shown as no matter how desperate the whole experience has been for Lang, he eventually brought himself to safety in Israel, the land of his forefathers. Joseph Moses Lang’s story is a great message to the world, and will forever be remembered by those who had the wonderful chance to read or hear.