Art Mural ’17: An Update

So far this year, the mural has definitely been going really well! We’ve been able to move along quickly and get a lot of work done on the piece as a whole. The planning process took around two after school sessions, and then we were able to sketch the geckos out as well.

Part of the process in designing a mural is the fact that we needed to be very deliberate in our actions and how we would approach the process of designing a HUGE piece of art…with ten people. We knew that we would have to create a cohesive piece of art that looks nice. We had the basic shapes of our three geckos sketched out, and then we had to think more about composition and how we would be filling up the empty space. Part of the reason why we are making this mural is to reflect the community we’re in here at SIS, which is why we drew the geckos. But we needed to go one step further.

This is when Ms. Morgan and Coco were talking and they realized that there’s not only the national flower of China (the peony) and the national flower of Shenzhen (the bougainvillea), that we realized that we literally had exactly what we needed to fill up the space. So we began to draw. But after we started…things were slightly wonky.

The geckos were already slightly different and didn’t look very united, and with everyone just drawing what we wanted to draw, we had to pause and go about this in a better way in order to accomplish a truly successful end product. We needed to specialize and trade our skills to get the job done.

We all then were allotted different tasks that would recur throughout the entire piece (ex: Tiffany was wholly in charge of drawing one type of peony, while Spencer did another, and Anna did peony leaves, etc.) It was through this that when we stepped back to look at the mural as a whole, it was actually looking really cohesive. By being able to pinpoint commonalities between the different objects throughout the entire mural, it makes it seem so much more elevated because there is an evident flow to the piece.

After we spent more time sketching (we ended up shifting the times of our meetings from Friday after school from 3:30-5:00, to 3:30-6:00), we had to begin the process of elimination. Like all things, quality over quantity! This meant that before progressing in our piece and going into doing colors and markers, we had to decide what we would eliminate. We wanted to use compositional rules that would make the mural as aesthetically pleasing as possible (S-Curve), so that meant that we had to begin erasing some really well crafted drawings to ultimately make the mural as strong as it can possibly be. Sometimes you just gotta give up some really great things to move further in life!

Very recently, we began the process of thinking about how we can add color to our piece. Ms. Morgan suggested that we use watercolor techniques to add subtle notes of color throughout the piece, as acrylic paints might be too vibrant and saturated for the delicate flowers and patterning of the gecko. We all discussed as a group, and agreed that that would be the best choice. So like sketching, we divided and conquered! Painting as a group, we all took on different roles and start to get the painting done. We’re still in the process of finishing the painting, however, it shouldn’t take too much longer, and then we will go over all of the lines with markers and add hatching details throughout. One of my favorite art techniques. I’m super excited to see where it goes from here.

TASSEL ’17: The End? A Reflection

As of today, it marks over a year since I started being a TASSEL teacher here at SIS, and it has definitely gone a long way.

Last year, I started off as a phonetics teacher, teaching off of pre-made Keynotes and playing games with the kids over a webcam. This year, things are slightly different. In my last post on TASSEL, I discussed what I am now doing as a teacher and as an editor for the writings of the kids in Cambodia. But I never talked about what impact it had on me.

I honestly didn’t know if I was a good teacher or if I was really making an impact on the lives of these kids until a few weeks ago where I taught by myself for the first time while my teaching partner was away for ACAMIS.

I was teaching and writing down the sentences that the kids were reading to me like usual, but there was something different about the class. The kids seemed to be having a lot of fun! (Not that they didn’t have fun in the past, but this time I could genuinely tell that they were enjoying the lesson.)

As a teacher, I would make the entire class repeat words they didn’t read correctly once, twice, or three times. However, they never seemed to grasp the concept of only reading them “x” amount of times, until the Cambodian teacher and I devised the idea to make them read the word 10 more times if they miscounted and said the word too many times. This was met with a lot of laughing and protesting from the kids, but we still went on with that rule anyways.

It was at the end of this class that the teacher told me that the kids wanted to stay in class for another 50 minutes (which I would have loved to do, but couldn’t because each village is on a tight schedule). That was the first jab in the heart where I felt needed and loved as a teacher. Then, on the way out, I would always stay on the camera and say goodbye to all of the kids before they left the classroom, and that week it was no different, until they started to blow kisses.

That’s right. The kids began to say, “GOODBYE TEACHER!” and proceed to blow kisses into the camera and run in front of it excitedly waving goodbye and telling me their names. I was kind of shocked. Yet incredibly flattered.

This is the feeling that I get when I think of TASSEL. I feel accomplished. Last week I wasn’t scheduled to teach because Shweeta was going to cover for me because I covered for her the previous week. But emergencies happen and I was notified that I needed to teach five minutes before class started. I was slightly annoyed. I was tired. I had two mocks the next day. But I left the class feeling all the better because I was able to see that I was doing something meaningful.

By partaking in TASSEL over the last two years, I learned that a little truly goes a long way. Volunteering just an hour of my time each and every week has probably had an exponentially more valuable effect on the children than it did on me, and I’m so grateful that I was able to take part in this activity. There is still around a month of teaching left, and I can’t wait to engage with the kids further and teach them as much as I can in the finite amount of time we have left.

These kids taught me to be grateful for others who give up their own time to help me, but they also taught me to be grateful for small things that I take for granted. My students travel for hours to get to school just to learn English from some international student kids in a completely different country. When I realize that, my complaints about the world are minute compared to the hardships these students may have faced in life. TASSEL is the only thing that has had a 100% success rate in being able to surprise me every single week. I won’t lie when I say that sometimes, I really don’t feel like teaching, but every single time I somehow leave feeling accomplished and happy. It’s like magic (trust me, ask anyone else in TASSEL and I’m sure they will agree).

In the end, I am not an amazing teacher. I don’t even think that I’ll become a teacher in the future. But teaching TASSEL has helped me become a better version of myself. Teaching, editing, and allowing the promotion of TASSEL in my other CAS project (the fashion show [side note: we made over 7500 RMB for TASSEL this year through the fashion show, and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone who made that happen]) has helped me realize that improving the lives of others is truly an international task that can be accomplished by anyone. Even as a lame senior in Shekou.

TASSEL ’17: An Update!

This year I’m taking part in TASSEL yet again! I’m super excited to be a part of this group for a second year and there’s definitely a bunch of updates that I have about what I’m doing in TASSEL this year and how I’ve been able to help and also how we’re going to go further.

  • First off, I’m teaching again! This year, however, I’m not actually taking on a Level 0/1 class, I’m going to be teaching a Level 3 class! My teaching partner, Shweeta, and I are super excited to be able to take part in teaching a more advanced class this year. Earlier on in the semester, I took part in a training session where we saw Joji (the head of TASSEL) teach a level 3 class so I could see what it will look like when I teach later this year. There are definitely some huge differences in how the teaching will be going this year.
    • Because these kids are level 3, that means that they already know the basics of reading, so it’s up to us to help them really practice their reading skills. We’ll be doing this by using predominantly “Backwards 1-2-3” games for our class!
    • We start next week, so I’m really excited!
  • I’m also a writing instructor for TASSEL this year as well! I’m the instructor for intermediate writing pieces. It’s something that I’ve NEVER done before, so it’ll definitely be fun to try and do.
  • TASSEL also had a booth at the Winter Bazaar! I wasn’t able to help out at this booth because I was helping to lead the carnival. However, I was able to help make the Rice Krispy Treats that we sold, which I must admit looked pretty great!img_1002

Super excited to see how the rest of TASSEL continues to go this year!

Fashion Show 17: The End

It’s been a while since I posted on here, but there has definitely been a lot that has happened when it comes to the fashion show.

After the winter break and after we had all of our tailors come in to get measurements made, we had to begin the trek into practices and model training. We had to go full force into making the fashion show the best one yet.

When it came to practices throughout this semester, we had practices two times a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunch.

But like always, we ran into many problems. This screenshot should sum up our biggest issue in one long, direct text:

I learned that I was able to:

  1. Be assertive when needed
  2. Be intimidating when needed
  3. And some told me that I can actually be scary when needed

Aside from that, we also had our photoshoot back in February! I’d like to think that it was a success. We had to make a makeshift backdrop to get the clean, crisp white background of a photoshoot for our photoshoot in the mini gym. I must say that I was pretty impressed with the outcome compared to previous years’ photoshoots. Here are a few images from the photoshoot: 

During the photoshoot, I needed to make sure that all of the outfits were appropriate for school and for the themes, while also making sure that people all knew what they were supposed to be doing. The photoshoot might have been one of the smoothest events that we’ve had this year because even if there were people who may not have been able to make it, we were efficient and had to work quickly so we could go home and study for mocks!

I was also in charge of designing the layout of the show, which is pictured below:

After setting up was set, I also had to make the posters and tickets, which are going to be posted in my Managebac portfolio.

From there, it was all practices and intense haranguing of the models and designers to follow my directions. As shown in the video called “FS Intro”, I made a video depicting the process of the setting up of the SPAH and the first practice that we had in SPAH as well.

THEN CAME THE DAY OF THE ACTUAL FASHION SHOW! Ticket selling was kind of stressful because we weren’t able to sell as many tickets at school as I initially thought, but it turned out to be successful. We had our first dress rehearsal on the day of the show, and then proceeded to get ready. I don’t think that time ever moved that fast in my life. Next thing I knew, it was 5:45 and models were still getting changed when doors were going to open at 5:50. It was intense. But it seems to have all worked out.

The show itself went by very smoothly if I do say so myself, and I’m super excited to say that we passed my goal of fashion show revenue (goal: 7000) and make over 7500! It’s great to know that all of the hard work that went into the fashion show is being donated to a cause that I both support and know will go to good use.

There are a lot of lessons that I learned from the show that I can sum up below and take with me later in life:

  • People respond differently to directions
    • Some people listen and follow directions on command
    • Others do not…
      • This is when aggressive texts need to be sent and confrontations need to be made to get people in check
  • Always make sure people know what they’re doing when you’re in a position of leadership
    • Nothing is worse than when you assume your group mates will be doing things…only to see that they did something completely different
  • It’s okay to trust other people
    • Because the fashion show took place right after our mock exams, we needed to make sure that things could be done without Franny and I hovering
      • By realizing thing, it alleviated a lot of pressure that came with the process
  • Talking on stage isn’t that hard when you’re presenting something that you’re truly proud of
    • Passion goes a long way and I definitely found my own passion to lead the show and I’m super proud of that

Art Mural ’17: It Began!

On Friday, January 13, I was able to organize the first meeting for our mural project! We started off the meeting by having a quite idea bouncing session where we were able to organize the layout of how we wanted to mural board to look at! We found a lot of different gecko images which I have on my desktop that we can use as reference images.

We then took down the actual board and then began to plan out where we would be drawing each of the three main geckos (because odd numbers and the rule of 3’s), and that marked the end of our first meeting. Our next meeting is going to be where we’ll be able to finish sketching out the basic shapes of the geckos.

This mural will also be my AMPed project so I can spend extra time working on it as well! Super excited to see how it plays out!

Animal Rescue 17: A Carnival?

So I guess I can say that I helped organize a “carnival”? This year, the Animal Rescue group was tasked with leading the carnival at the Winter Bazaar. 


That’s what we said when we were told we could organize it. But we took it head on and went through with it. 

Because a lot of the materials were left from last year when Annie and John were leading the carnival, we were able to update and slightly alter the games to fit our needs better. Thankfully, they also had a huge surplus of prizes from last year, so we didn’t have to order that many prizes/materials as well. 

Our biggest obstacle in the organization process was finding volunteers…now that was a process. We sent out our surveys and Google Doc to see what groups wanted to gain slots and what students wanted to volunteer, but no one seemed to want to sign up! We had a deadline of almost two weeks prior to the Winter Bazaar…but not enough volunteers. So we pushed it back to the few days before the Bazaar itself. 

I actually pride myself in how I was able to convince so many people to take double shifts and take shifts in general to help us fill out our slots! It was a Christmas miracle! This allowed us to hold an information meeting where we could have all of the volunteers learn about their booths and games. 

On the day of the Bazaar itself, I had to get there a bit early in order to help set up the games and prize table. I started off manning a single game, then moved on to theorize table for the remainder of the Bazaar. It was tough. I never talked that much in my life! So many parents and children and students and thieves! It was intense, but also intensely gratifying. I might have given up my entire last Winter Bazaar, but it was definitely worth it because I was able to help kids get cool prizes and help educate others on what we were aiming to do! 

In the end, we made 5,000+ RMB and I couldn’t be more thankful for my other organizers Saki and Se Jin, and the HUGE help of Ms. Wilson for helping this all succeed and go as planned! 

FS17: Fabric Shopping and Tailors

On November 27, 2016, I took my designers who needed to buy fabric to the Dongmen fabric market so we could prepare to have designs tailored before the winter break. Planning the trip itself was pretty easy and simple, especially after seeing what went wrong last year. This year, I made a WeChat group for all of the designers so there could be quick, direct communication between me and the designers. This allowed me to see who exactly was going fabric shopping and schedule final last-minute details that might not have been communicated over email. 

Last year, it took us well over an hour to find the fabric market because we thought we would be clever and take a shortcut to find the market because the subways were so crowded. This year, we went one stop further and went out the correct exit and we were right in front of the market! It even allowed us to get a quick bite at McDonald’s before entering the market. Because I took a smaller group of designers this year, it was much more efficient than it was last year. Going earlier in the day was also much more convenient as all of the stalls were actually open and ready for business. 

Altogether, I think that this year’s fabric shopping trip was a success! 

On December 9, 2016, our assistants, Avivi and Coco, contacted a tailor to come into the school to take measurements and collect the fabric necessary to make the designs that needed to be tailored. This year, like last year, we emphasized our desires to lower costs for the fashion show by having designers and models coordinate to find and borrow articles of clothing that would be cheaper to buy or borrow rather than tailor. This meant that we only had specific articles of clothing that needed to be tailored. Surprisingly we were able to get all of the designs and models measured by 4:45, which is a feat considering we had to take many lunch periods last year in order to fit in all of the designs. One thing we learned this year was that we might have chosen the wrong type of fabric at times for these designs, so Avivi and I talked about what she can do next year to make it as easy for the tailors as possible. We were able to get prices this year in a much more reasonable range than it was last year. The most expensive thing we’ve had made was 200RMB for a full length dress! What a steal! 

As we enter the second semester, the burden is now lessened for the designers, and models need to begin working. We’ll be starting to schedule our model walking practices and once our outfits are all finalized, we will have our photoshoot! We also need to get designs finalized and made for the House section (designed by the directors and select designers with the fabric I designed myself!). 

Super excited for everything to come in the next three months! 

GINfectious Diseases: First Aid Reflection!

On October 16th, our GIN group’s first aid project was underway and I would like to think that it was a success! As a whole, it was super productive and I learned a LOT!

After doing the entire process of  first aid training, here are some points that I took away from the process:

  • When gaining participants, there needs to be direct communication between us and the participants
    • If we don’t make sure that we’re having constant communication, there’s a chance that people may forget or they might just blow us off! Emails are good to send, but we also need to make sure we confirm that they got our emails and that they understand that it’s their responsibility to commit
  • Commitment needs to be specified immediately
  • If you want to do something, there needs to be an awareness of ALL POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
    • It seemed as though almost everything seemed to go wrong at the last minute
      • Volleyball tournaments
      • Miscommunication
      • Late people
      • Late food
      • etc.
    • This meant that we needed to ENSURE we checked the calendar for any conflicting activities (which we did, and we made sure the date we chose was okay with Mr. Livingston as well)
  • Sometimes things might be a little bit out of our control, and that’s not going to be our fault, especially if we’ve done all that we could in terms of preparation and communication. It’s just our job to know what we need to do, what we have already done, and how we should approach any potential roadblocks.

This experience of going through the first aid training was very wholesome and I know that I learned a lot (and if I do forget anything, I have a guidebook that summarizes everything that we learned as well!) I think that this was a very successful event that we were able to plan, and we have been able to help make SIS a safer place as well. It was definitely worth all of the last minute stress we had to go through because we have ultimately been able to help people potentially help save the lives of others as well!

STUCO ’16: An Overview

Last year, I was a part of the high school Student Council as a Grade 11 Class Representative…however, I wasn’t actually a part of STUCO for the entire year.

After Jon Gabriel left our grade after the first semester, we held re-elections to replace his spot as the class rep. I felt as though I had it in me to be able to go a semester with another responsibility, so I gave a speech, and actually made it!

I was then brought into STUCO on January 12, 2016 and it was immediately a fast-paced activity that I had to get used to quickly. There were a lot of responsibilities that were put into place immediately, as STUCO had two events planned within the first month of the second semester: SCIPMYLO and The Sadie Hawkins Dance.

For SCIPMYLO, it was a big, group effort, where we had to plan games, point systems, advertise, and plan the entire night out as a whole. Overall, the planning stages were bit slow as we constantly had to go back and forth between how we would be assigning points (which was the hardest part of the planning process), as well what “Minute-to-win-it” style games we would be doing. Because I joined after the planning process began, I was more of a voice in the discussions without a specific job that I was assigned like other people were. For the day itself, I was in charge of the “Suck it up” game with Michelle Lee, where we would have students use a straw to suck up one M&M on the end of a straw, run across the side of a table, and drop it in a plate! The group that had the highest score won this game at the end of the night. In order to plan for this, I had to make sure that we had all the M&Ms we needed, cups, plates, and straws, as well as a poster to mark what station we were at. It also helped that we were able to do this to all benefit a great cause!

The next biggest event we had, was the Sadie Hawkins Dance! For this, the biggest planning that we had to do was get chaperones and advertise. Something that I noticed coming into STUCO was that we had a slight problem with procrastinating when it came to finding chaperones…and this dance was no different. We were able to find chaperones, thankfully, and so that was checked off of the list. My responsibility was to help decorate the venue. So I went with Sara and Sam to the basement and got all the decorations the day of the dance so we could begin decorating right after school. We spent around an hour setting up for both the middle school and high school dance, and I strung lights around the entire ampitheater, along with adorning the rails with green tulle. I also made a makeshift “photobooth” utilizing shimmer, sequined cloth and fake flowers to cover a whiteboard for people to be able to take pictures with their friends.

After our success of the dance, we had two more big activities left on the table: SIS Got Talent and Pi Day.

For SIS Got Talent, which was in late March, I wasn’t as big of a part in the setting up for the event due to the fact that I was on a field trip for Art class! However, I was tasked with creating the promotional poster for the Talent Show, which we hung up to advertise the event to the community. The biggest roadblock we faced was communication. We had to communicate with the judges and chaperones as well as the middle schoolers in order to make sure we could include them in the show. This part of the planning was…stressful, but in the end, we were able to get it done.

Pi Day was pretty easy to plan, as it is somewhat of a tradition here at SIS. The biggest hurdle was promoting the different “prizes” of memorizing different amounts of pi and getting permission to use up advisory time for the day of the pi-ing. As a whole, it was probably one of the smoothest events to plan, and we were able to have another successful Pi Day here at Bayside (I’m sure Ms. Dowty was especially happy!)

The biggest “failure” of the year was “Craze 4 Hours”, an event that many were looking forward to…but didn’t happen. Due to scheduling errors, we were not able to get the OK from admin in order to host a Craze 4 Hours at Jingshan because we let it slip through our fingertips in terms of timing. We did appeal to Mr. Livingston with the help of using rhetorical devices from Ms. Cho, but we just weren’t able to be approved. So…in order to slightly bend the rules, as we did have the SPAH reserved, we just had an open house dodgeball tournament that was hosted by Ms. Cho, for people to have fun! It wasn’t a STUCO event per say, but we were able to make something out of what we thought would be nothing.

The final parts of the year involved us trying to raise more money for TASSEL (a cause which Ms. Cho and STUCO was very happy to donate to), by having a Jar Raising contest. It revolved around the premise of whichever element that collected the most money would be able to perform a punishment of their choosing. Also, if we raised enough money, we would have been able to shave Mr. Knudsen’s head! However, while we did make several hundred RMB from the jar raising, we weren’t able to meet Mr. Knudsen’s goal of 3,000 RMB. Although I agreed with Ms. Cho about continuing the raising to keep on raising funds for TASSEL even after the winner was announced, the rest of the team didn’t seem so optimistic, and we decided to just go with the on punishment that Fire decided to go with: having Ms. Cho hold a worm. (It was quite the assembly!)

The final feat of this STUCO journey was the senior goodbyes! Ms. Cho wanted to send off the seniors on a good note, so STUCO organized a high school send off, where we would have students deliver roses to different seniors. I was tasked with making a keynote to introduce each senior, and show the different messages high schoolers had for them to help send them off on the best note possible.

Overall, my experience with STUCO last year was quite positive and I learned a lot about what it means to be a part of Student Government. I learned about how important it is to be punctual with deadlines and the importance of proper communication. It was really great to be able to be a part of STUCO because I got more insight into how to plan different activities. These skills have been able to help transfer into other activities like directing the fashion show (planning meetings and creating deadlines/talking to teachers)! Although I am not in STUCO this year, I’m excited to see how these skills can transfer into new, future projects.


Last year, I began the planning process of creating a school mural! The plan was for it to start in the beginning of this school year, and I was able to add even more students to my group of juniors than I did last year. This project’s current supervisor is Ms. Morgan! Currently, I have a total of ten juniors who are helping me with this project:

Lisa Peng, Tiffany Johannson, Avivi Wang, Karla Escobedo, Coco Lau, Tony Yang, Yoojin Chung, Anna Duan, Gerry Wu, and Patrick Blagits.

To start off this year, we wanted to get our idea generations started really early! Our first meeting was on August 24, 2016 and we were able to jump start the process of what we wanted to accomplish: create a mural that has a lasting impact on the school, improving our learning environment. At first we were thinking of BIG ideas for a BIG space, but after talking to Ms. Morgan, our plans shifted a bit.

After talking to Ms. Morgan, it turned out that Mr. Livingston was a bit hesitant to let us go big and bright with a mural, and that we’d need something that is good to have it be presented as a part of our school. That meant that we need to scale down our size to a more manageable size that can really showcase our craftsmanship.

Spencer Low was super helpful in our process because she sparked the base idea of what we finalized! She thought about doing a “senior” mural, where we would showcase the seniors of the high school. At first it seemed kind of gimmicky, but we realized that we could do something really cool with our mural…make it customizable: every year.

So our mural is going to be LAYERED. The first layer would be a large plank of wood, which would be replaced every year. It’s on this plank that the incoming seniors would be able to put their handprints or signatures and have fun with the background to really make it their own. Then on top, which is what we would be working on this year, is going to be a really intricately designed gecko–we currently aren’t quite sure what the design will look like, but that’ll come out in our future meetings–, which would be mounted on top of the base board every year. (It’s SUPER helpful to have a group of students to work with so we can bounce ideas off of each other!)

We’ll start off by designing and painting our gecko on a big board, and then we’ll have it be cut out and be mounted on top of the new board, so while the seniors may change, the ‘gecko spirit’ will forever stay alive! Here is the general idea that we came up with at our third meeting where we sketched it very loosely to get the idea across for Ms. Morgan.



I can’t wait to see how we continue to refine our designs and work with Ms. Morgan to make this “mural” a reality. It’s going to be difficult, but I think that the payoff for the future years will be great.