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Taipei American School | 800 Zhongshan Shan N. Rd., Section 6, Taipei, Taiwan | | VOLUME XXVI, ISS. 01 | October 8, 2019







This is for the politically apathetic

30 days of backpacking with Chloe Mann

D-Block Renamed after Head of School


the blue & gold october 7, 2019

TAS brings second largest group to AMIS Jazz Honor Band Festival

Jazz honor band students prepare for their performances in London. [SHARON LEE/THE BLUE AND GOLD]

By Sharon Lee (‘22) Taipei American School has had the largest contingent out of all the schools attending the AMIS Jazz Festival, with 27 students out of the total 134 students at the festival representing our school. This year will be the fifth year TAS has attended the event, and our students will be travelling to the American School in London for the annual event from Sept. 24-30, 2019. This year, we have the second largest contingent, with five students travelling to London for the honor band. The participating students include Annie Cho (‘20), Kyle Hodowany (‘20), Eric Wang (‘21), Eric Lin (‘22) and Jeffrey Li (‘22). It is a long and challenging process to be

selected. “They’re looking for people who can demonstrate on these tracks that they know jazz style, and that they’re a sensitive musician,” Jazz Ensemble conductor, Mr. Ray Heberer said. Students are required to record four or five excerpts, including an improvisation piece, which are then sent to judges. They receive the music in February, and the recordings are due during late April. Many would agree that the audition is the hardest part. “The recording process is really long, because for each recording you always fail, and you need a perfect recording,” Jeffrey said. On average, each of the excerpts take around 100 takes, which add up to about

400-500 recordings in total. “If you’re a brass player ... those are long days with 5-7 hours of horn on your face” Mr. Heberer said. On the first day of the trip, the team will be visiting Windsor Castle. One major change happening this year will be that students will no longer be able to participate in home stays, usually the preferred option, and will instead be staying at a hotel. However, this does not make the event any less enjoyable for both teachers and students. “If you’re a brass player, those are long days with five to seven hours of horn on your face” Mr. Heberer said. As for the students, they are all looking forward to meeting new friends

and improving their jazz musicianship. “[I want to] learn some more about how to improvise, Improvisation is really fun and in my opinion, the best way to learn music,” Eric Wang said. Despite the excitement, there is also pressure on the students to do well at the festival. “This year I also have a one minute solo, so I want to leave a good impression, and improve myself as a musician,” Annie said. The AMIS Jazz Honor Band is a valuable experience that allows students to travel and perform overseas. “I joined because I like jazz, I like performing, AMIS was a chance, an opportunity for me to perform music,” Annie said.

Film students and club members prepare for a busy year ahead

Students using technology to benefit their film project. [ALLISON KWAN/THE BLUE AND GOLD]

By Allison Kwan (‘21) Film students and members of the film club have three major events throughout the year. They are currently in the midst of working on a three-day film competition for the All American High School Film Festival, IASAS, and have started working on their yearlong submission to the AAHSFF. The trip for New York is a hilarious comedy about an accidental mixup between 2 boxes that contained fishes. Although the topic of the yearlong film is still undecided, last year, the short thriller drama “Portraits”

made it into the official selection for the AAHSFF, the largest high school film festival worldwide. Mr. Brett Barrus, the Upper School Visual Arts teacher, describes the process as long and grueling yet rewarding. The students got together and brainstormed, one of the most difficult steps in the process. Students’ ideas branched off each other and characters were created before writing and revising the script. “That’s how the best work happens,” Mr. Barrus said. Once the script is complete, students

then choose locations for shooting the scenes. They would also rent equipment as well as hire and cast professional actors. Last year, “Portraits” had only two adults in the cast while most of the students worked behind the scenes. This year, however, the team is looking to incorporate more students on camera as extras or other positions. Anthony Hsu (‘20), who will be working on this year’s year-long submission, is looking forward to a variety of things such as using their brand new equipment. “We recently got new equipment and we wanted to incorporate computer-generated images as well. I want to see how far we can push our new boundaries,” Anthony said. Because the duration of the yearlong project is so long, students often have to dedicate a lot of their time to finish this project. “Last year, we turned the Tech Cube into a dark room. We spent the night at school for almost 48 hours to shoot most of the film,” Mr. Barrus said. Students from all walks of school life participated in the making of the film, including art students, who helped with production designs. The project was concluded in the middle of June. Meanwhile, for the three-day film competition for the AAHSFF festival in New York, students have finished the ideation process and are looking to recruit actors. “We’ve got a really great idea. It’s going to be hilarious,” Mr. Barrus said. While this project is not required or graded for the students, many students take time

outside of school to work on this project. The students have recently finished brainstorming for this upcoming project, and remain excited to explore new ideas and continuously improve from last year. This project requires great efficiency and collaboration to finish the project. Michael Nili (‘20) is the director of the New York film project and it is his first time as a director. Michael focuses on making sure not only is the script written well but also that the actors deliver polished deliveries. “My favorite part of the whole process is seeing things come together. After you’ve practiced the script so many times, you start to see people get more excited and enthusiastic. You see your crew and cast come together.” Sabrina Hsu (‘21), assistant director for the three-day New York film project manages everything aside from the actors. “I manage things from making sure everyone knows what they’re doing to rolling the camera,” said. Last year, their film “Art of Magic” made it to the top five in the AAHSFF. After their outstanding results last year, the students are looking to achieve even higher results this time around. In both the New York film project and the yearlong film project is a valuable experience and strengthens bonds between students working towards a single goal. “Shoutout to the seniors, they really made this into a community and worked hard to make it a really big family,” Sabrina said.

3 NOVA weekend: TAS student groups break their first place streak

the blue & gold october 8, 2019

Thirty years later, blind students once again attend production of “The Miracle Worker”

By Laura Hsu (‘22)


For the first time in NOVA history, Taipei American School students did not receive the first place title for the NOVA weekend event that took place earlier this year, from Sept. 6-8. Asia American International Academy (AAIA) and Kaohsiung American School (KAS) took home first and second place this year, respectively. NOVA allows students to identify a problem and create a real world solution for it by pitching it to judges. Groups of three to five students wrote up a plan and then designed a prototype as part of their solution. “The idea is usually something they are passionate about—it develops their confidence,” Julie Oh (‘20), president of NOVA said. Tiffany Lo (‘20), the Vice president of operations, said, “I just think NOVA is another incubator for learning, it’s an experience that you don’t really have often at TAS.” NOVA was held earlier this year compared to previous years. “Last year, most people’s schedule [were] already set, hopefully this time we will be able to have more participants join in,” Tiffany said. The NOVA officers decided to take a minimalistic approach in decorating for the event this year, “We were very extra last year with decorations, we spent a lot of money making it look nice, but we missed out on actually organizing the event well,” Julie said. Many decorations will be reused this year. “Since we are dealing with real world solutions, we want to implement the same idea into our event,” Julie said.

IN ACTION: Anne Sullivan teaches Hellen Keller the word “doll.”


By Natalie Scheidel (‘21) Thirty years ago, in 1989, Taipei American School performed “The Miracle Worker” and invited students from the Taipei Municipal School for the Visually Impaired, a partner organization of TAS’s Orphanage Club, to attend. This year, the theater department once again performed the popular play by William Gibson and once again invite students from the Taipei Municipal School for the Visually Impaired to the production. “It will be incredibly special to see how blind students react to this play and compare it to 30 years ago,” Mr. Richard Arnold, the sponsor for Orphanage club and who saw the production in 1989, said. Directed by Mr. Cory Edwards, Ms. Kari Jensen and student director Tingjen Hsieh (‘20), the show featured a double cast, which are named after the two main characters of the play: Keller and Sullivan. The casts will alternated throughout the week, with an added performance on Saturday due to the typhoon day on Monday. Although the two casts performed the

same story and are using the same script, according to Julianne Vaughan (‘21), who had the role of as Hellen Keller for the Sullivan cast, “they feel like two entirely different shows, where each cast has a different dynamic and brings their own different nuances to the show.”

“I’ll sound cheesy, but it made me grateful for all the senses that I take for granted; I can not imagine how I would live without one of them.” For this year’s production, the directors wanted the actors to help transition the scenes by moving props and repositioning furniture on stage to increase the intimacy

of the cast and create a sense of familial bond. Ivan Wei (‘23) who plays Annie Sullivan’s brother, Jimmie, said, “I’ve always been interested in being part of the backstage crew additionally to being an actor, this allows me to be on stage as well as behind the scenes.” Even after the experience of performing as Hellen Keller, Julianne still finds it incredibly difficult to imagine being sightless. “Instinctually, I always think that being blind is to see black, but in the back of my head, I also know that this is not true at all,” Julianne said. “It is like if I tried to see out of my elbow. I can’t. To me, that is what being blind is,” she said. Even though Julianne does not know what being blind is like, playing Helen Keller has taught her how important all the senses are. “I’ll sound cheesy, but it made me grateful for all the senses that I take for granted; I can not imagine how I would live without one of them,” Julianne said.

Board of Directors renames D-Block after Head of School Introducing the Sharon DiBartolomeo Hennessy Upper School

NOVA COLLABORATION: A TAS student group receives professional advice from another school’s mentor. [PHOEBE CHEN/THE BLUE & GOLD]

FUELING UP: NOVA students eat and chat over local food. [PHOEBE CHEN/THE BLUE &

On Taipei American School’s 70th Anniversary, Sept. 26, 2019, the TAS Board of Directors unveiled the Upper School D-Block Building’s new name, which honors the current Head of School, Dr. Sharon DiBartolomeo Hennessey. Dr. Hennessey is the longest standing Head of School for TAS, serving the community for 14 years. Under her leadership, the school has undergone a lot of major changes, including the construction of the Solomon Wong Tech Cube, Liu Lim Arts Centers, and the D-Block. The unveiling was a surprise to Dr. Hennessy, as part of the 70th Anniversary celebration. Donors contributed a combined $1 million USD in Dr. Hennessy’s name in order to bestow upon her this naming opportunity.





By Sabrina Chang (‘21) For the first time in 33 years, all three season one Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) sports will be hosted at the International School of Manila from Oct. 10-12. ISM will host the volleyball, cross country, and soccer teams in celebration of their school’s upcoming 100th anniversary, a historic milestone that no other IASAS school has yet to reach.

“The parents will bring a lot to the atmosphere, especially with their reputation of being the loudest cheers.” “It will be a great challenge and privilege [to host] in our centenary year,” Mr. Mark Pekin, ISM athletics director, said. He hopes that because this is the first IASAS event of the 2019-2020 school year, the competition will be extra exciting. “I know all the teams [will] represent in the best possible way,” he said. The number of ISM faculty, parents, and students in attendance will also add to the excitement. “I am sure our community will be very hyped for the triple IASAS experience,” Mr. Pekin said. Although housing will definitely be a big task for the school, ISM seems to have it all under control; they already have hosts for all

330 traveling athletes. “[I am] confident in ISM that we will put on a great experience for all...we can’t wait to share our campus with all the IASAS family,” Mr. Pekin said. ISM athletes are especially excited for this event on their home turf. Juju Lapus (‘22), an ISM varsity volleyball player, is extremely enthusiastic about hosting. “I can’t wait to meet new people and have the opportunity to play competitively with the other teams,” she said. She rates her level of excitement a “12 on a scale from one to ten,” and reveals that she even checks the school’s live IASAS countdown constantly when bored during class. Dylan C. (‘22), a member of the Taipei American School varsity cross country team, is also feeling the buzz in the air. “Our whole team is hyped about going for gold,’’ he said, “and a Super IASAS means that more people from your own school are watching, which is great motivation to push harder and strive for faster times.” Ms. Kim Kawamoto, TAS athletics director, will also be accompanying the athletes as they travel to Manila. and she is especially excited to kick off the new year after making TAS history last year with the number of medals won throughout the athletics program. “This really shows how the athletics community at TAS has grown,” she said. Ms. Kawamoto is also excited to see the Tiger fans in action while watching all six TAS teams compete. “The parents will bring a lot to the atmosphere, especially with their reputation of being the loudest cheerers,” she said. She hopes that all of our teams will represent our school and perform well as they travel to ISM.


From Oct. 10-12, all season one athletes from the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools will compete at Super IASAS at the International School of Manila. On this rare occasion, all three sports competitions, soccer, volleyball, and cross-country, will be held at the same school. With 66 TAS athletes and 396 total athletes in attendance, this highly anticipated event will surely be full of high energy and exciting competition.

Astin Tsai (‘20) dribbles down the sideline. [IAN HO/THE BLUE & GOLD]

Danielle Lin (‘22) is one of the runners traveling to IASAS.

By Ian Ho (‘21)

By Amanda Chiu (‘20)

In the previous six years, with only a one year break in between, the TAS girl’s soccer team has gotten silver. Gold has narrowly evaded them. At the beginning of this season, the team lost many valuable players. With 7 seniors having graduated, many core players were lost; however, new players, the majority of which were sophomores, have joined the team, balancing the players. This year’s focus for both the boys’ and girls’ team is building fitness, which will allow for better competitive capability overall. This fitness strategy would also enable greater competitiveness while adapting to the changes in the team. “We are now working on developing different tactical and positional strategies that I think will gear well towards the players that we have,” head coach of the girls’ soccer team, Mr. Julian Thornbury, said. The positions the coach placed players in this year were highly similar to the positions last year, indicating that the players are being placed in positions that they specialize in. The center midfield players, Maud Zwaenepoel (‘22), Maya Rosenshield (‘21), and Chloe Mann (‘20) already have experience playing with one another from the previous year making team play easier. The boys’ soccer team has five freshmen, Tyler Liu (‘23), Sota Suzuki (‘23), Jeffrey Ma (‘23), Ian Teng (‘23), and Austin Ku (‘23), joining as new members. “Freshmen

are looking really, really promising,” team captain, Rowan Delgado (‘21) said. “They’re adapting to this high school life and the high school style of soccer, which I feel is more physical.” In previous years, the boy’s soccer

“Freshmen are looking really, really promising.” team has not been the most successful at IASAS competitions. “I think it’s due to the individuality of our players. We’ve had players, including myself who thought at times that they were bigger than the team,” Dhirpal Shah (‘20) said. This year, however, team dynamics seem to have become better than in previous years. “Regardless of the fact that we haven’t got a lot of game time together, the team is looking extremely well bonded in terms of chemistry on the field,” Dhirpal Shah (‘20) said. Part of the reason is that the Freshmen players have previously worked together before middle school. While some of the girls’ soccer team’s new players are newer to soccer, the boys’ soccer team’s new members have more skilled individuals, enabling a greater array of strategies this year. “If there’s a year where we win, this is it,” Dhirpal Shah (‘20) said.

Taipei American School’s cross-country boys team won silver last year and is striving for better times in each race in preparation for the IASAS event this year. The girls team ended with bronze the previous year and are working hard to get gold with new runners this year. Both teams run five times per week and are determined to improve their performance in upcoming races.

“I try my best to push through workouts even when I’m not in my best condition.” In the Thailand Cross-Country Invitational in Kanchanaburi from Sept. 20 to 22, the boys and girls team both ended with silver. Sarahi Zuniga Ruiz (‘20) performed extraordinary with a time of 22 minutes, 14.7 seconds in the five kilometer race, and placed second overall. Eli Kaplan (‘22) finished strong in sixth place with a score of 18 minutes, 59.6 seconds in the five kilometer race. Despite losing some valuable runners this year, both the girls and boys cross country teams believe they can still perform well as long as they train hard. “I believe that we have a good shot at medaling this year, so all we need to do is keep working hard and enjoy and cherish our time together as


a team,” Evelyn Lai (‘20), co-captain of the girls team, said. The boys team added four new runners this year, and they have been performing well during practices and races this season. “Our team got at least four underclassmen, who can run a sub 18 minutes 40 seconds in the five kilometer race,” Logan Chen (‘20), co-captain of the boys team, said. With the addition of new runners, the team will try their best to improve their placement since last year. The coaches’ of the cross country teams goals are simple: they want the runners to not only run faster but to also learn from the experience. “I want the girls to improve as much as possible from the beginning of the season to the end of the season,” Mr. Steve Anderson, head coach of the girls team, said. He has been focusing mostly on improving strength, endurance and speed for each runner as they progress through the season. In addition to building a stronger team, captains also are responsible to bring the team closer. “I try my best to push through workouts even when I’m not in my best condition, and I think that helps set an example for the younger girls in the process,” Evelyn said. Every athlete is excited to go to the Super IASAS this year as all schools are gathered together in one single location. “It’s going to be awesome because every team is gonna have a larger crowd of spectators. We can support the soccer teams this year as well,” Logan said.

Emily Hsu (‘20), co-captain, sets the middle.

By Lana Lee (‘22) After heartbreaking IASAS defeats in the finals last year, the Taipei American School varsity volleyball teams will travel to Manila for the 2019 Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian School tournament from Oct. 10-12. Last year, the girls entered the finals for the first time in 10 years since 2008. This year, the girls are hoping to change the history of girls volleyball at IASAS. “Our team is going to be at the forefront of a new era for IASAS where the teams have the flexibility to deceive their opponents, think fast, and be strategic.” Emily Hsu (‘20), cocaptain of the girls team, said.

Last year, the girls entered the finals for the first time in 10 years. The girls have been preparing for this season from the beginning of the year with four practices every week to hone new offensive plays. Furthermore, all players from last year’s silver-medal team have returned except one senior who graduated which allowed them to hit the ground running at the beginning of the season. “On the floor, they know what one another is going to do,” coach Mr. William Fillbach


said. “And this is a year where I really do believe we will win.” The girls have demonstrated that they truly do have potential to win the IASAS championship through cruising through in the 2019 TAS Volleyball Invitational coming in first place, undefeated, and coming in first seed at IASAS Exchange before losing a close five set match. Emily and Mr. Fillbach both agree that the only challenge laid in front of them is to strengthen the team’s mentality. “We must overcome the mental block—the fear of Singapore,” Mr. Fillbach said. “We just need to beat them one year at IASAS, then we’ll beat them for many more years to come.” As for the boys, new coaches are leading the team this year: Mr. Joey Chen and Mr. Anthony Joe. As opposed to last year, where the boys mainly focused on developing team chemistry and communication, the coaches are emphasizing the basic skill sets and conditioning this year. Moreover, there are only four returning players, which makes the team mostly new. “It is a process for the captains to build the team culture,” assistant coach Mr. Anthony Joe said. “But there is a lot of enthusiasm to learn.” Regardless of the various adjustments they need to make, the boys are vigorously building their teamwork with three practices and two games every week. They ended with a result of 2-2 in the 2019 TAS Volleyball Invitational and 1-3 at IASAS Exchange. “We’ve taken some good steps, but there is still a long way to go.” Mr. Joe said.


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

Tank tops are allowed in the new gender-neutral dress code

Can you tell who is violating the new dress code? [LANA LEE/THE BLUE & GOLD]

By Ariel Lee (‘23) The dress code at Taipei American School was recently changed by the administratration with input from Student Government in an attempt to be more gender inclusive. The new dress code can be found on page 26 of the student handbook. It aims to ensure that all clothing is “suitable for an academic setting.” With a purpose of creating a good learning environment, the new revised dress code puts an emphasis on allowing students “to choose comfortable attire that expresses their personal identities.” The new dress code states that all undergarments must be covered but tops do not have to be a full sleeve. In other

words, starting this year, student tops must have at least some kind of strap or partial shoulder coverage, with the rule of “no spaghetti straps.” The dress code also mentions that all advertisements on clothing should be appropriate for all grades at TAS. However, some unaltered rules are that no midriff should be showing and that shoes are to be worn at all times. The dress code at TAS was altered because the administration wanted to be less vague, which will help with enforcing the dress code among students. Upper School Associate Principal Mr. VandenBoom said it also aims to be more gender-neutral. “Before there were a lot of issues

regarding dress code, especially for girls like what you can wear strap and midriff wise, and there was a lot of vague language in the dress code,” Natalie Chang (‘20), copresident of the Student Government, said. This shows one of the issues administration and Student Government were trying to change which is for the dress code to be easier to understand. One of the aspects that pushed this change was that people brought up the issue. “Different people have different guidelines for what’s considered school appropriate,” Natalie said. Due to Taiwan’s warm temperature, another aspect that impacted the dress code was the weather where it was changed to allow sleeveless shirts.

Breaking the dress code may result in disciplinary consequences such as wearing a Physical Education uniform for the rest of the day. However, “the following locations and their associated activities may have their own dress code: fitness center, gym, swimming pool, dance studio, and performing arts facilities.” In these locations, teachers are able to determine what the students are and are not allowed to wear. There is also an exception for the endof-the-year athletics banquet and Upper School awards ceremony, where a more formal dress code applies. Ultimately, this year’s new revised dress code aims to be less vague and more gender-neutral.

“Raid Zero” FRC team mentors other robotics teams in Taichung

STUDENT INSPECTORS: Raid Zero” FRC team at the Off-Season FIRST competition at the Central Taiwan Science Park. ROBOTICS DEPARTMENT

By Nicole Chang (‘21) The Taipei American School “Raid Zero” FRC team helped mentor and train Taiwanese FRC teams during the OffSeason For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition. The event was hosted by the Central Taiwan Science Park from Aug. 1718 in Taichung.

Last year, in order to promote FRC in Taiwan, around 20 new teams were created in the country. This led the Central Taiwan Science Park to create an event that would help these new teams build and test their robots. Since “Raid Zero” was, and still is, one of the most experienced FRC teams in Taiwan, they helped teach these new teams how to build robots from the ground up.


“We taught them how to assemble robot[s], program [them] and also drive [them],” “Raid Zero’s” captain Emily Hsu (‘20) said. However, this year, “Raid Zero” had more responsibilities. Instead of only helping build robots, some of the members were also judges, referees, and robot inspectors. ”We brought 20-21 students, including alumni there to help run the [Off-Season]

Regional,” “Raid Zero’s” advisor Dr. Allan Bayntun said. “One of our alumni was head referee, our other alumni were technical assistances to help make sure that the robots connected on the field [were] able to compete properly, and the rest of our team were robot inspectors and helped with building.” Despite these new roles, many of the members still ended up helping build robots as many of the teams came with their robots uncompleted. “A team basically had their robots in pieces when they came to the competition,” Emily said. “The most fulfilling part for me [was] working with the team under a time limit, and finally seeing the final product of our work on the field.” Not only was this event created to help build and test robots, but also to ensure that Taiwan is able to run the official FRC Regional in the beginning of next year. “We want the Taiwan Regional to look good in the international community,” Dr. Bayntun said. “To see that, yes, we’re taking robotics and robotics competition seriously in this country.” Ultimately, promoting FRC will benefit Taiwan in the long run. “Traditionally, Taiwan has [had] a strict educational environment, where it’s very test and grade based,” Emily said. “I think [that by] having the Taiwanese government promote a kind of completely different type of educational experience, where it’s very hands on, is super helpful for the future of Taiwanese education and for Taiwanese students.”


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

Upper School welcomes two new administrators Mr. Lowman continues Dr. Hartzell’s legacy

Mr. Lowman looks forward to an exciting school year ahead. [AMANDA CHIU (‘20)/THE BLUE & GOLD]

By Amanda Chiu (‘20) Mr. Andrew Lowman was selected as the new principal for the Upper School in the fall of 2018 and officially became the principal in the summer of 2019, after the retirement of Dr. Richard Hartzell, former Upper School principal. Mr. Lowman has worked in different positions and has gained many leadership experiences over his last 11 years at TAS.

Mr. Lowman was an academic and personal counselor for Class of 2011 for four years. After their graduation, he then moved to the college counseling office and became the director of college counseling one year later. In 2017, Mr. Lowman became the associate principal for the Upper School for two years and has worked alongside Dr. Hartzell. “I really look to [Dr. Hartzell] as a mentor,” Mr. Lowman said. “No matter how old you are, a mentor can be really valuable. He helped me learn what I will be doing this year and allowed me to do some of those tasks last year so that, this year, things don’t feel completely new, different and unknown.” As a leader, Mr. Lowman says that he puts an emphasis on certain values, especially teamwork and collaboration. “The idea that if we fall or if someone else falls, people will help each other to get back up or watch their backs. My hope is that our community actually cares about each other in the small things, and the big things, and that we don’t get so busy in our own personal successes and

forget to look next to us and see if everyone else is doing okay,” Mr. Lowman said. In addition, Mr. Lowman has a goal to remember every student’ name in Upper School before September ends. “[This month] is going to have to be like a one month long cram session. But it’s fun to learn students’ names by learning more about them,” Mr. Lowman said. Always smiling to students in the hallways, Mr. Lowman has a friendly reputation of being outgoing and nice to people he meets. “He is cheerful and easy to talk to. If I had something to talk to admin, I would feel very comfortable talking to him,” Natalie Chang (‘20), co-president of the StuGov, said. To continue the legacy of Dr. Hartzell, Mr. Lowman wishes to build on the achievements that TAS currently has. “We need to build on the success [our school currently has], continue to build those programs and see them reach new levels of success,” Mr. Lowman said.

Ms. Fagen comes home to the Upper School services for both the Middle and Upper School. She was also a class dean in the Upper School for the Class of 2017.

Ms. Fagen starts her school year in Upper School with passion. [KELLY PHIL (‘20)/THE BLUE & GOLD]

By Kelly Phil (‘20) “It feels like coming home,” the new associate principal for TAS’s Upper School administrative department, Ms. Fagen said, when describing what it felt like to step into her new position as Taipei American School’s new Associate Principal. Before her position as an administrator, Ms. Fagen was the director of academic and personal counseling in Upper School and the department chair for student support

“Instead of having a few kids in a classroom, I now have 822 students that I get to know, and that is something really fun about my job that I have learned to appreciate everyday.” Ms. Fagen describes the TAS community as a unique place that differs greatly from other educational institutions. “I think what sets TAS apart from other places I have worked at is the international setting and the wonderful diversity that is such an integral part of our community,” she said. Ms. Fagen also feels that becoming an administrator has been both an enjoyable

and enlightening experience. “Although I thoroughly enjoyed being a classroom teacher at TAS, I really love having 822 students that I get to know and work with every day. That is something about my job that I genuinely enjoy” Ms. Fagen said. In addition, Ms. Fagen found the life of Upper School students another enjoyable facet of her job. “Every day I look forward to connecting with students and teachers and taking part in many of the truly exciting things that are happening on campus” Ms. Fagen said. To begin her day, Ms. Fagen usually arrives at school before classes start and greets students in the lobby and front of Dblock. Afterwards, she walks along the halls of the D-block, C-block, B-block, and the Solomon Wong Tech Cube to touch base with students and teachers alike. “One of the highlights of this position is being able to get into classrooms t\o see first-hand all of the different lessons and activities that are happening in every room. I always leave the classrooms feeling inspired. TAS is a very special place” Ms. Fagen said.

Nurses’ office undergoes renovations By Micah Wang (‘23) The nurses office underwent a huge makeover over the 2019 summer break. Although the location has not changed, the interior of the office received major updates. “Sometimes [the nurses office] needs to be broken up between older and younger kids,” Mrs. Melissa Long, Middle and Upper School nurse, said. “When there was a chance to go and do something a little bit different, we chose to do so.” Mrs. Long credits this to the fact that high schoolers simply have different needs than lower schoolers. “We know you’re really tired. Your frustrations are from fatigue,” Mrs. Long said. “The [lower school] kids are just coming in because they scrape their knee.” The nurses also realize that there is a growing tendency of high school students, especially juniors and seniors, suffer from sleep deprivation,

overwhelming stress and mental burnout. Specifically, with the growing trend of the colloquial term ‘senioritis’, mental health and destressing is becoming more and more important. To accommodate this, the nurses office received a new room specifically to relax and release stress. The room, aptly named the “break room,” provides an area for students to release any anxiety that may have been built up at school. But, the “break room” has not received entirely positive feedback. Most students do not have the time to destress in school would rather socialize with friends, or would prefer to destress at home. “I’d only use the room if it was really necessary, like if I’m about to fall asleep or if I have a headache,” Stevin Yang (‘23) said. “I think there should be more beds instead of couches.” The “break room” and the rest of the nurses’ office, may not be perfect, but it

is still a huge improvement that should not go unnoticed. The nurses all hope to better take care of both the Upper School students as well as the lower schoolers through the renovated interior design that efficiently distinguishes the two age groups, as well as to allow for a better academic ecosystem to combat the uprising levels of school-related illnesses.

800 ZHONG SHAN N. RD. TAIPEI 11152 TAIWAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CHARLOTTE LEE (‘20) MANAGING EDITORS NATALIE SCHEIDEL (‘21) NICOLE CHANG (‘21) COPY EDITOR KELLY PHIL (‘20) SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING PHOEBE CHEN (‘21) NEWS EDITOR SHARON LEE (‘22) OPINIONS AND VERDICT EDITOR KELLY PHIL (‘20) FEATURES EDITOR LAURA HSU(‘22) SPORTS EDITOR AMANDA CHIU (‘20) STAFF WRITERS VANESSA KANG (‘20) IAN HO (‘21) ALLISON KWAN (‘21) SABRINA CHANG (‘21) LANA LEE (‘22) AMBER WU (‘23) MICAH WANG (‘23) ARIEL LEE (‘23) AUDREY HWANG (‘23) JONATHAN CHEN (‘23) ADVISER MS. LINDSEY KUNDEL MISSION STATEMENT The Blue & Gold is a student-run publication dedicated to sharing stories from the Taipei American School community. Produced and distributed free of charge monthly during the academic year by staff writers at TAS, the Blue & Gold strives to showcase and interrogate the community it serves. CORRECTIONS We take all measures possible to report accurately, and seek to bring professional, thorough reporting to our readers. Please report any inaccuracies in Blue & Gold content to our email, OP-EDS AND EDITORIALS Editorials collectively represent the opinions of the Blue & Gold’s editorial board, while op-eds represent the opinions of each writer. Opinions in the Blue & Gold do not necessarily reflect the views of TAS student body, staff, faculty, or administration. THE BLUE & GOLD ONLINE The Blue & Gold runs an online edition that publishes articles every weekday when school is in operation. Find the website at LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We welcome letter submissions from all readers. Email your signed letter of under 500 words at

The new nurses office has a private “break room” for students to relax. [MICAH WANG (‘23)/THE BLUE & GOLD]


the blue & gold october 8, 2019


This is for the politically apathetic On Sep. 4, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the government would withdraw the controversial extradition bill that had caused a summer of long protests. But citizens are still restless, fighting on with more demands. Over the past few months, violent clashes between protesters the police have become more frequent, and the sheer size of the demonstrations was unprecedented: as many as two million out of a total population of seven million marched earlier this summer. Even the Hong Kong International Airport, which is the eighth busiest airport in the world, was shut down. Once known to tourists for dim sum and shopping, Hong Kong has now surely made a new name for itself internationally. But the question still remains: to what end? AP US Government teacher Mr. Chase Williams highlights that regardless of the protesters’ persistence, these civilians have no leverage on Beijing. “If Hong Kong

declares independence, the PRC will roll right through their tanks,” he said. “It will become Tiananmen like we have never seen. I’m all for democracy, and exercising your rights, all power to them... but I don’t know what they thought they could achieve.” The sad reality is that this is likely the truth. China is not nearly as economically dependent on Hong Kong as Hong Kong is China. And even if--and that’s a big if-China were to comply to the protesters’ demands tomorrow, who’s to say that they will still hold up their end of the bargain in two or three years? In Mr. William’s words, “I think the best thing that Hong Kong can get is to delay the inevitable.” Realistically this it true; though, it is hard to believe that all two million of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists are fools, risking their own safety day after day, fighting an unwinnable war. It is hard to believe that all of them have simply bought into false hope. Rather, what is happening in Hong Kong is bigger than just Hong Kong, like many other movements like these often are. It is more than one extradition bill, more than just one leader; it is about ideals, and that enough is enough. Too often, when it becomes clear that the odds are cruelly stacked against resistance to authority, onlookers stand idly by, politely applauding protester efforts but silently reminding themselves that nothing will change. Every time this happens, we

accept political pragmatism as an excuse for political apathy, and we descend down a slippery slope.

Every time this happens, we accept political pragmatism as an excuse for political apathy, and we descend down a slippery slope. This applies not just for Hong Kong, but for every unwinnable fight that we somehow convince ourselves cannot be worth fighting, as if bracing ourselves for the worst is a better alternative than a possibly failed attempt at change. If we cherry-pick the causes to believe in based on what we think our odds are at succeeding, then nothing ever worth changing will change. “If you asked me if the Arab Spring was going to happen in 2010, I would have said no way,” Mr. Williams said. “So, yeah, I

want to be proved wrong.” Here at The Blue & Gold, the staff is encouraged to write about events that easily tie into the school community: we look for relevance, some connection to Taipei American School—which is why we often struggle to spin political events in a way that matters to people here, who feel disconnected. As just a fraction of the student body, we spend months writing and printing articles—just so a few people might read them and find their beliefs challenged. We want to believe that long shot after long shot after long shot, eventually we will see that things, once thought impossible, have become within reach. Sometimes, this is just not the case. And that is unfortunate. But it’s these choices today that determine whether or not our generation will be remembered as the ones who could have said something, but didn’t.

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk: TAS needs mental health days By Charlotte Lee (‘20) Towards the end of each semester, sniffle season comes around like clockwork at Taipei American School—that is, the period of time when every single student in a class starts to get the sniffles. Whether it’s a symptom of recurring allergies, a cold, or a slight fever, boxes of tissues are passed expertly around the classroom, making their way to the most severe victims wearing surgical masks and chugging warm water. Waves of sickness at the end of each semester are often accompanied by waves of absences as well, but colds are not the only reason that students miss classes. Last year, at a junior class meeting, then Associate Principal, now Upper School Principal, Mr. Andrew Lowman addressed the issue of academic dishonesty, discouraging students from missing classes just because they need more time to study for a test. “At TAS, we do not ask why you’re sick if your parents call in and say you are ill.” He said. “That’s my way of saying, that if a family has a conversation and decides [for the student to take a sick day] I would not argue with that. What I don’t like is when families use that on test days. There’s some

game playing there, and then you’re not thinking about the community and that there are other students in the class. The overall idea of taking a day—sure. I’m not opposed to that.” But regardless of whether it’s coming to school while sick, or faking a “sick day” to cram, students at TAS are adopting unhealthy habits as a means to an end. Seemingly, we will do almost anything to ensure that our grades do not suffer. The first step that TAS must take in addressing this toxic culture is to allow students to take days off due to mental health reasons. Not only would this reduce stress-induced sickness, but it also begins to chip away at the pervasive belief that nothing is more important than grades. Some schools have already begun implementing mental health days into their school policy. Just recently in Oregon, a state law went into effect giving students five mental health days within a three month period. This new law hopes to help students with anxiety or depression, who often have to make up seemingly more legitimate excuses for issues that are difficult enough to deal with already.

Judging by the way some students drag themselves to school even though they can barely breathe through their congested nostrils, most students here are in danger of working too hard, not slacking off. A new policy that allows students to take mental health days, could encourage students to value their own wellbeing and could potentially be a significant step towards improving wellness, which the school claims to be one of their main focuses. Arguably, students could just stay home if they’re sick, but it’s not that simple. There is already a culture of stress at TAS, one that requires work on behalf of both the students and the administration, to be undone. Sarah Johnsen (‘21) and Avery Long (‘21) both said that they almost always come to school even if they are not feeling well, and this practice is common among their friends. “Last week I skipped school for the first time in three weeks, and I’m still making up work [right now],” Sarah said. On the other hand, Alina Lee (‘20) said that there have been times when her mom has called in sick for her when she was overwhelmed with work. “Mental health is so important. It’s not because students

procrastinate, it’s because you have to fit so many things in your schedule. Sometimes you need a day to reboot.” Furthermore, research has shown that stress is associated with an increased risk for developing colds—and spending late nights at your desk, getting only a few hours of sleep, definitely takes a toll on your immune system. Every once in a while, when the workload becomes overwhelming, just the knowledge that it is okay to leave things incomplete has the potential to transform the way students approach learning. Not as a task, but a way to better themselves. If TAS were to have a mental health leave policy written in the student handbook, it would represent concrete change. Actions truly do speak louder than words. However, slow progress is still progress. Mr. Lowman commends Honor Committee for courageously addressing the topic of toxic competition at TAS, as well as anyone who decides to not participate in TAS’s stress culture. Though, for TAS keep its pace with an increasingly progressive world, the administration needs to evolve school policies to reflect the values that they preach.


the blue & gold october 7, 2019


How factful is “Factfulness”?

We should all become more fact-ful people By Ms. Darby Sinclair, US teacher When Bill Gates, one of the world’s most brilliant minds and a well-known voracious reader, decided he would gift each U.S. college graduate a copy of “Factfulness,” you knew something was up. What is it that Bill Gates knows that we should know too? Gates identified “Factfulness” as “one of the most important books I’ve ever read–an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.” In this era of “fake news,” it seems that every week we uncover another news story of how a political campaign or a protest movement was manipulated by the surreptitious nature of social media and media outlets. We feel overwhelmed with not knowing what is true and what is false. Who has the time to sift through all these facts and data to find meaning and truth? Not only are we paralyzed with an overwhelming amount of questionable information, but so much of it appears negative. As a mom, many of my instincts begin to take hold when I read the news. My fear instinct and my negativity instinct are particular kicked into high gear as I consider all the dangers “kids these days” have to face. Yet, when introduced to “Factfulness,” I felt that Hans Rosling was providing me with a set of simple thinking tools, a Swiss Army knife for data, which I could whip out to evaluate many of those overwhelming facts

that were creating paralyzing “mom” fears. In fact, Rosling explains that an overdramatic world view is difficult to shift because of how our brains work. We are still evolutionarily consider each situation as fight or flight. Because of this it is difficult for critical thinking to replace instinctive reactions. From a teacher’s perspective, I see “Factfulness” providing us a better way to talk about the world, through a more fact based approach. Rosling gives us the vocabulary to examine our world in a more meaningful less polarizing way, without having to say rich and poor countries, we can now use terminology like Level 1 and Level 2 to better understand the nuances of poverty. Likewise, we can stop wallowing in the doom and gloom but take the opportunity to consider the long view. Though the world faces tremendous challenges at the same time the world has made tremendous progress. We tend to ignore this. According to Rosling, “I want people, when they realize they have been wrong about the world, to feel not embarrassment, but that childlike sense of wonder, inspiration, and curiosity.” Rosling has taught me to become, in words, a “possibilist”, I no longer have to hide behind a veil of optimism when I used to see the news as negative. Becoming a “possibilist” in the world, is a much healthier world view and one that allows me to see my place in being a change maker.

“Factfulness” is not very fact-ful after all By Kelly Phil (‘20)

Hans Rosling’s book “Factfulness” offers a variety of statistics to suggest why our outlook on the world has been overly pessimistic. Yes, it is true that Rosling’s work is based on a strong foundation of accurate and methodologically robust statistics that do measure how the world is doing now. The problem arises, however, in Rosling’s selection of statistics to support his world view. For instance, “Factfulness” includes many graphs of “bad things in decline” and “good things on the rise” but not a single graph of bad things on the rise. Rosling presents a graph showing a reduction of smoke particles in the air but no graph on diesel emissions or the overall air pollution in rapidly-industrializing Asia. According to a UN report, India’s air pollution rose by 50 percent over the last 20 years and caused over a million deaths in 2017 alone. Rosling also includes statistics on protected nature, and good news on the conservation flagship species, however, it contains no information on the drastic decline in global biodiversity as reported by the UN, including a widespread decline of virtually all wild vertebrates, which researchers described as the sixth mass extinction. In regards to climate emissions, if Rosling had examined per capita emissions themselves, Rosling would have found that

China’s emissions have surpassed those of most EU countries: 7.45 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person in China, compared to 6.4 tons for the EU as a whole. All of this reveals that Rosling has only used data that supports his world view that the world is getting better while discounting the purpose of his book to give people a more accurate world view. More importantly, it also shows how lightly “Factfulness” addresses an existential problems like global warming. It is true that global poverty levels are declining but there might be no people on earth to enjoy it within a couple of decades because of the biggest global catastrophe we have ever faced as a species. But even if we give Rosling the benefit of the doubt, Rosling’s optimism is certainly not going to help the world get any better. Although Rosling criticizes pessimists who always frame the world as getting worse, you should ask yourself who’s frame of mind is more likely to create change: the optimist who believes that urgent action is not necessary or the pessimist who believes we must act now to prevent the world from getting worse? I would much rather be a pessimist with a slightly skewed worldview who seeks immediate action on the world’s problems, no matter how historically insignificant they may seem, than an optimist who believes that we have already done enough.

Don’t be a fool, lose the Juul By Phoebe Chen (‘21) It is no secret that the use of electronic cigarettes has grown to be a prominent issue in high schools across the world. Even at Taipei American School—where e-cigarettes are not only against school policy but illegal—the number of students who can be found using the devices is on the rise. Since there are strict prohibitions on e-cigarettes, it would be nearly impossible for The Blue & Gold to get someone from the TAS community to go on record to discuss the issue of smoking. That being said, I feel it is important to remind students why “Juuling” is a major problem, even if no one wants to speak on the topic. The trend of puffing on vape devices at TAS is no longer identified as e-cigarettes. Instead, most people in our school refer to smoking e-cigarettes with the word “Juuling,” taken from the brand name of one of the most popular types of e-cigarettes. This identification alters the entire image of e-cigarettes as it creates a false reputation of safety for the devices. “The name doesn’t sound as bad to many people because they’ve turned it into a verb,” Upper School Principal Mr. Lowman said.

“Students think that it’s not smoking because it’s not a ‘cigarette’ it’s just ‘juuling’, and to many of them it sounds cool.” As an upper school student, I find it baffling that so many of my peers are oblivious to the very real health complications of “Juuling.” Essentially, there are few differences between smoking e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. In both cases, users are inhaling a product of tobacco and injurious chemicals into their lungs for a spike of nicotine. Nicotine only takes a few seconds to get to the brain after inhaling, and can quickly attach itself to receptors that control levels of dopamine in the body. Dopamine plays a role in the brain’s reward system as it can chemically make a person feel a high, helping to reinforce whatever behavior lead to that “feel good” moment. Every time a person smokes—or “Juuls”—they are making themselves feel good, yes, but they are also reinforcing the behavior that lead them to that feeling. Thus, making them crave the high again later. In my eyes, teens that are “Juuling” are just as bad as teens that are smoking. According to the United States National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), high school students who

use e-cigarettes once are seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes six months later. Therefore, a TAS student that experiments with a Juul can potentially develop a severe nicotine addiction, just like any other form of nicotine consumption such as smoking. Health concerns are far from being the only complications our fellow TAS students must consider. Taiwan law states that e-cigarettes are a violation of Article 14 of the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act. Thus, any student who is caught smuggling an e-cigarette into Taiwan can be sentenced to a hefty fine (depending on how many devices were smuggled), or, in worse cases, prison. However, teens cannot be completely held accountable for the widespread attraction to “Juuling”. As part of the age group Juul specifically targets, I believe that from external to internal designs, Juul has designed its products to attract adolescents. By creating a design almost identical to seemingly innocent USB ports, Juul condones young teens hiding their e-cigarette devices from parents and teachers. “For adults who are oblivious to the ongoing trend, it is hard to identify

a Juul as an e-cigarette,” Upper School Principal Mr. Andrew Lowman said. This accessibility allows Juul to cultivate a naive group of young consumers that can easily become addicted to their products. In short, Juul profits from the exploitation of teens. Being an e-cigarette company looking for profit, it is easy for me to see why Juul would target daring teenage students. According to another NIDA study, brain development during the teenage years are at the most risk for long-lasting nicotine addictions. Hence, marketing nicotinebased e-cigarettes to young teens means higher chances of an addiction. Which, in turn, will raise both the demand for Juuls and number of returning consumers. Unfortunately, “Juuling” is too often preceded by the words “fun” and sometimes even “harmless”. The constant research and precautions that present clear indications that juuling is hazardous are constantly veiled behind ignorant teens longing to create a facade of being cool. So, from one high school student to another, I want to tell the TAS student body to not be a fool, and lose the Juul.


the blue & gold october 8, 2019


Ms. Lin: the fourth Mandarin teacher ever

[Allison Kwan/THE BLUE & GOLD]

Ms. Cutler: “lost track” of TAS’s medal count By Allison Kwan (‘21) Ms. Kathleen Cutler, Physical Education, Health teacher and volleyball coach, first came to Taipei American School through an international student teaching program in the fall of 1982. Before this opportunity, she worked at a factory packing popsicles to pay for her school tuition. As someone who originated from Washington state and attended Washington State University, moving to Taiwan was her first time traveling overseas. Originally, Ms. Culter wanted to move to the Philippines because it was famous for scuba diving. However, because there had been a coup there, she decided to move to Taiwan afterall. This is because she thought that because Taiwan was an island, so she would be able to scuba dive there as well. Ms. Cutler describes her first impression of Taipei as pure excitement. “When I first got here, I was like going through a honeymoon phase and I was excited to meet new people and experience a new culture,” Ms. Cutler said. Although her father was quite hesitant and slightly devastated that Ms. Cutler would be so far away from home, both of her parents were excited for her to take such a big step forward. Ms. Cutler was not the only one who got this opportunity as six

other students went with her. During her time in TAS, Ms. Cutler started out as a swimming pool supervisor and trained lifeguards. She then began to teach middle school students physical education and became a health teacher, a program which was newly implemented. Ms. Cutler clearly remembers the first time she brought her volleyball team to Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools and got ninth place overall. After teaching in the Middle School for 12 years, TAS created an assistant athletic and activities director position and moved Ms. Cutler to the Upper School as a parttime teacher while still coaching volleyball. The varsity girls’ volleyball team has won 6 times. “I’ve lost track of how many silver and bronze medals we’ve won,” Ms. Cutler said. Ms. Cutler has seen many changes in the athletics program. “This school’s grown a lot. I look at how small our athletics program was and over the years how much we’ve added for students.” Many changes such as the middle school intermural program was developed and opportunities outside of athletics have been added. “We’re really fortunate to have such great kids that want to learn. It’s a great school to work for,” she said.

[Sharon Lee/THE BLUE & GOLD]

By Sharon Lee (‘21) Ms. Fenny Lin is one of the longest serving Mandarin teachers at TAS. She started working at TAS in 1990, so this year will be her 20th year at TAS. Before coming to TAS, Ms. Lin worked at the China Youth Corps in Shilin, an association where overseas Chinese or foreign students across ages 13-18 learn Mandarin. She taught there for many years before she decided to teach at TAS. When she first came, TAS was looking for Mandarin teachers, as there were only three Mandarin teachers in the whole middle and upper school. Ms. Lin therefore decided to work here, and became the fourth Mandarin teacher at TAS. “I felt that the background of the students at TAS will be pretty similar to the backgrounds of the students I taught at China Youth Corps, so I felt that I could take on this new job,” Ms. Lin said. However, working at TAS was also a challenge she decided to take on. “I have never really experienced the educational systems of international schools, so I was pretty unfamiliar with the school system and the rules, it was also a challenge for me.” Despite it being a challenge, Ms. Lin truly enjoys working at TAS, primarily

because of the students and also the chances that teachers here are provided for self-development. Ms. Lin feels that students at TAS are very outgoing and close with their teachers, which is why she greatly enjoys interacting with them. “Some students will come to me asking for advice to their problems, so I feel really close with them,” Ms. Lin said. Besides the intimate relationships she has with students, she feels that students also form close relationships with one another and often help each other out. Changes that Ms. Lin has witnessed at TAS are the opening of D-block and the Solomon Wong Tech Cube. She also feels that the school is now more open to listening to the ideas of students and making changes according to them. When Mrs. Lin started working here, she observed many teachers continuing their studies, using summer time as a chance to earn their master’s degree. Therefore, she decided she would continue to learn. She eventually achieved her master’s degree at Michigan State University. “I’m very grateful for TAS’s great program that encourages teachers to continue their learning and to improve themselves,” she said.

From Tiger teacher to Tiger parent By Allison Kwan (‘21) Although Ms. Deborah Flemming originally planned to teach at Taipei American School for only four years, she has actually served as an Upper School dance teacher since August 1995. Before working at TAS, Ms. Flemming started a dance studio in Canada teaching all types of students. She then taught in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Ultimately, Ms. Flemming and her husband, Mr. Ken Flemming, decided to teach at TAS because many of their friends were also teaching in Asia. During her time at TAS, Ms. Flemming has seen many changes in both the dance program as well as TAS as a whole. “Dance is now taken seriously and there’s a lot of respect for the hard work that dancers do,” Ms. Flemming said. There used to be only one dance class for the high school and the dance program was very small. The Interscholastic Association

“My favorite part about teaching at TAS is watching my students develop into confident young adults.” of Southeast Asian Schools was also the only event available for dancers to showcase their ability. TAS now has nine upper school dance classes, two upper school dance teachers and many overseas dance events. Ms. Flemming remembers very specifically that the first time she took her dancers to Bangkok to perform. They had to adapt very quickly to their new, thin stage. The dancers originally created a performance involving lots of circles. “Our circles very quickly became ovals and rectangles,” she said. Now,

[Allison Kwan/THE BLUE & GOLD]

TAS dance students are very fortunate to be able to work with professional guest artists. As for the changes, Ms. Flemming has witnessed in TAS, Ms. Flemming says that the spaces between the Upper School and the Lower School used to be very different. There used to be less separation between the two grade levels. Now, there is complete separation between the Middle and Upper School courses, even though some of the faculty work cross-divisionally.

Ms. Flemming has a very close connection to TAS as her daughter graduated from TAS in 2013. Because she has taught at TAS for a long time, many of her students have heard of her and there are not many surprises about her teaching style. Her close relationship with her students also allowed her to decide to continue to teach at TAS. “My favorite part about teaching at TAS is watching my students develop into confident young adults,” said Ms. Flemming.


the blue & gold october 8, 2019


Yee Jian Tan: Singaporean military service is simply a part of life For many, compulsory military service may seem unjust and a clear violation of people’s freedom; however, for Singaporean citizen Yee Jian Tan (‘21), the National Service is simply a part of life. This policy requires that all male citizens serve a full military service of a minimum of two years, a law which has been in place since 1967.

“My life right now is a bit boring and stale. It is a repeated cycle of school, homework, and sleep. With the military service, it would bring a lot more action than... now.” As the youngest and the third generation in his family who will serve, Yee Jian has heard numerous stories from his older brother and father about their time in the military. Although he describes both his father and older brother as athletic, having played quite a few sports in high school, Yee Jian said that they still physically struggled throughout their military service. Thus, he fears the brutal physical work that the military will require from him. “I think it’s going to be a really tough time,” he said. “I’m not that fit, [and] I don’t play sports as much [as my father and brother do].” Despite this, he is still excited for a change of pace. “My life right now is a bit boring and stale. It is a repeated cycle

Failure to enlist in the required Singaporean miltary service Results in: Three years’ imprisonment

A fine of SG $10,000 (NT$224,749)

of school, homework, and sleep,” he said. “With the military service, it would bring a lot more action than I’m experiencing now.” Nonetheless, while he still is not completely comfortable with the idea of forcing boys to enlist into the military, he completely understands the reasoning behind it. “[Since] Singapore is quite small for a country, it needs to maintain a sizable military at all times,” he said. Ultimately, although Yee Jian has his fears and doubts about his enlistment in the military, he would still choose to serve his country if given a choice not to. “I live a very non-active lifestyle right now,” he said. ”Serving the military would force a change, and I think that [it] would be good for me.”

Zheng Yuan Mor: Breaking the TAS “bubble” through the military Unlike the average student at Taipei American School, alumni Zheng Yuan Mor (‘18) did not immediately go to college after graduating from high school — he went to the Singaporean military. In the fall of 2018, Zheng Yuan had to return to Singapore to begin his first year of military service. He went through Basic Military Training (BMT), or boot camp, first, then through vocational schools for combat security troopers and a dog training course. During boot camp, Zheng Yuan was forced to live in Tekong island for around two months, where he faced brutal conditions. “I was really away from many technologies and luxuries,” he said. “I had to hand wash my clothes in a bucket and could only use my phone for 30 minutes before lights out. Even better, [I was] only allowed cold showers and had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. everyday for a two kilometer run and body weight exercises.” Although these conditions during the BMT were tough, it allowed him to get closer to other people in his section, which built a sense of “brotherhood”. “We were all in this together, the harder the journey the more memorable and enjoyable it was,” he said. In addition to the difficulties that he experienced in the military thus far, he has also been forced to give up many of the things in his life. “You lose two years of your life, which is kind of a big deal,” he said. “I’m away from my family who still live in Taipei, I don’t get to celebrate public holidays like Christmas or New Year.”

Zheng Yuan Mor (‘18) was enlisted in the Singaporean Basic Military Training in the fall of 2018. [PHOTO COUTERSY OF ZHENG YUAN MOR]

However, being in the military has definitely pulled him out of the protective “bubble” at TAS. “Frankly in TAS I think some people care too much about grades or what college they get into,“ he said. “When you have machine gun fire over your head while you’re crawling in the mud, your priorities really do change. You learn to appreciate things and focus on goals and things beyond your next A+.” For many Singaporeans, the army is “just another stop in their life” where they “continue with their original plans for study or work after they finish.” After finishing his military requirements, Zheng Yuan hopes to receive an undergraduate degree before entering law school.

Andrew Chu delays Taiwan military service for college By Sabrina Chang (‘21)

Andrew Chu (‘19) enjoying his freshman year at Northeastern University. [PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW CHU]

Many male students at Taipei American School are obligated to complete Taiwan military service, however many of them are also able to delay it, like Andrew Chu (‘19). Men are subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan once they turn 18. They must serve if they were born in Taiwan or if they have ever held a Taiwan passport, even if they are a U.S. citizen or entered using a U.S. passport. A significant amount of male students at TAS encounter this problem during or after their senior year, and many are obliged to serve for two months during their summer before college. Many students are able to delay this by leaving the country, for example by going on a weekend trip to Hong Kong. Andrew is one of the many TAS alumni who is going through this experience.

“Military service is a good experience to learn about your country and protect your liberty,” he said, “but I would still not choose to serve because it could interfere with my education.” Andrew must leave the country every three months and come back in as a visitor. He thinks that compulsory military service can hinder students not only before they attend college, but also after they graduate. “My family friend was jobless after college, and could not come back to Taiwan to find a job because he did not have any citizenship or classified documents that would allow him to work here,” he said, “so he can’t work in Taiwan until he is over 40 years old.” Many male students from various countries around the world face compulsory military service. Taiwan law is considered

lenient in that the service time is only two months, compared to the mandatory 21 months in South Korea or up to two years in Singapore. These students must give up both time and money in order to be able to leave the country every certain number of days. Although many TAS students are able to delay serving in the military, this is still a significant hurdle and inconvenience in students’ lives. Ultimately, most male TAS students can decide whether or not they want to serve time in the Taiwan military, a difficult decision that must be made before they transition out of high school. Andrew is an example of someone who chose to pursue their college education immediately, and he is very happy with his decision overall.


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

That was then, this is now: teachers discuss growing up In this edition, The Blue & Gold explores Upper School faculty pasts

A TAS alumni, faculty and parent’s take on Taiwanese identity By Natalie Scheidel (‘21)


Ms. brenda Lin, who prefers to have the “b” in her first name lowercased, is a TAS alumna, parent, faculty in the Upper School, but she is also a published author of a book. Her book, “Wealth Ribbon: Taiwan Bound, American Bound,” which came out in 2004, is a book that explores cultural dynamics within three generations of her family. In her book, Ms. Lin explores the relationship her Chinese family has with American culture. “Wealth Ribbon” offers a distinctive view of what it is like to have a transnational and cultural identity, which resonates with many students at TAS. Ms. Lin was born in San Francisco but moved to Taiwan when she was four. She attended TAS from Grade 4 all the way up to upper school graduation. In her book, many of the essays are specific to her background,

living in a small, close-knit community, with unique stories to her as well as other TAS students. This book started off as a travel book describing Ms. Lin’s trip in 1999, when she took a train that went from Hong Kong all the way up to Beijing. As she wrote about the trip, she found herself questioning her identity as Chinese and Taiwanese American: “I started asking myself, how Chinese was I? How Taiwanese was I? How American was I?” Ms. Lin said. While the majority of the book pertains to her own experiences with her family and her journey in life, “the themes are very universals with notions of home and family.” In regards to family, she touches on what culture meant to her and her family, as well as where “home” truly is. This is the first year Ms. Lin is teaching

at TAS; she is currently teaching the course Writing Workshop and Seminar. Previously, in New York, she taught at an afterschool program for younger kids, as well as teaching new immigrants who lived in ChinaTown. “It was truly a lot of fun because they had so many stories to tell and, honestly, a lot of them just wanted to learn English,” Ms. Lin said. In her Creative Writing class, she hopes for students to know that they can apply all the techniques they learn in this workshop to other kinds of writing they do in other classes. “My ultimate goal is for the students in this class to develop their own voice and be confident in using that voice,” Ms. Lin said. For Erin Huang (‘21), what is most special about the class is “she [Ms. Lin] intentionally creates a ‘safe space’ in the classroom and allows us to talk about any personal things

Dr. Ward recalls attending military base schoool in Germany By Phoebe Chen (‘21)


From high school theater kid to choir participant, chemistry and physics teacher Dr. Nicholas Ward had the average American high school experience. He was enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, grew tight connections with his fellow theater and music peers and attended school sport games. The only difference, however, was that his school was located in Würzburg, Germany. Dr. Ward’s family was stationed at the German overseas military base because his mother was employed by the army. “My mom was a doctor for the military because they had paid for her medical school training,” Dr. Ward said, “As part of that agreement, she had some time to serve in the military as a payment.” As a doctor in the United States military, deployment out of the country was a high

possibility for Dr. Ward’s mother. When the family was chosen to transfer to an overseas military base, Dr. Ward’s mother could not directly choose a preferred location. “At most, she could list specific locations as a high choice on where she wanted to end up, but those requests weren’t always accepted,” Dr. Ward said. Dr. Ward transferred to Würzburg American High School as a sophomore and spent his freshman year at a local German school. He eventually decided to transfer to the military base school as its American schooling system provided greater academic choices. “Even as a smaller school, I think that the drama productions that we did were very good,” Dr. Ward said. “We had an excellent drama director who knew how to get things done with the resources we had.” As a result of its considerably small

size, Würzburg American High School was a small, tight knit community where all students knew each other. “There was a lot of overlap between people doing different activities. So when I was in the musical with friends from choir and jazz band, there were also friends that played football and were a part of the musical. There just weren’t that many kids, but it was still fun,” Dr. Ward said. Often times there may be misconceptions that military base schools are rugged or less academic. However, this is not always the case. “A lot of things are similar to regular American schools,” Dr Ward said, “The courses I took were pretty much the same and I was pretty much eating the same food and doing the same activities. At most, the greatest contrast would just be the differences between school resources.”

Ms. Pipkin’s ultimate guide to a successful musical career By Jonathan Chen (‘23)


Ms. Joan Pipkin, the music coordinator and cello teacher for all three divisions of TAS, has experienced both hardships and rewards through a career of music: after choosing to focus on music, Ms. Pipkin went to one of the most prestigious music platforms around the world—The Juilliard School. After successfully graduating from Boston University and Juilliard, Ms. Pipkin played as a professional musician for a couple of years. She joined a trio group with a harpist, violinist and cellist, and collaborated with singers such as Vic Damone, played on Broadway shows and also participated as the principal cellist of Brooklyn Philharmonic. Though her journey of exploring the world of performing arts is magnificent, the dedication and work she put into

perfecting her skills is the reason behind why her success has been so great. Like all cellists, Ms. Pipkin struggled with posture in the beginning of her musical pursuit. It was not until her time at Juilliard that she learned how to perfect her posture. “The first teacher that I had that actuyally talked to me about proper posture, was my professor at Juilliard. He was really focused on the actual physical technique when playing,” Ms. Pipkin said. She still remembers the response her teacher always had when she had any posture struggles, which was “just make the phrase.” Ms. Pipkin also learned a lot about “go-with-the-flow” kind of playing at Juilliard. She also remembers her first moments in Juilliard.“It was amongst real excellence,” Ms. Pipkin said. Her

first reactions when she heard other students and professors play were “wow, everyone’s so good here”. She says that everyone who played on the Juilliard campus all had the potential to be a professional musician. However, despite the potential people may have, she warns students who are looking to pursue a musical career that the “path is not easy.” She also suggests people to consider to “[take] the approach of double majors [as pursuing a musical career] doesn’t make money.” Although Ms. Pipkin enjoys her career in music, she does not suggest students to compeletly immerse themselves in their pursuit for musical success. “Music is not an easy career, from competition to jobs, you have to prepare your own music, there is a certain level of dedication you have to have.”


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

TAS students and faculty compete at the 2019 Touch Rugby World Cup

Senen Fernandes (‘20) looks to step around defenders as his teammate Jesse Whiteford (‘20) calls for the pass. [PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN CHIANG, CHINESE TAIPEI TOUCH ASSOCIATION]

By Audrey Hwang (‘23) and Amber Wu(‘23) Last spring, TAS faculty, alumni, and students competed in the 2019 Touch Rugby World Cup in Putrajaya, Malaysia. From April 28 to May 4, Mr. Ting Fan, Ms. Judy Fung, Sebastian Town (‘11), Kayleigh Chen (‘18), Jesse Whiteford (‘20) and Senen Fernandes (‘20) represented Chinese Taipei along with 10 other players. This was the first time the Chinese Taipei team took part in any Federation of International Touch sanctioned tournament. Through a rigorous fitness and skill-based tryout process, 16 players were selected to represent the team. “We had tryouts back in June [2018] and then we had training once

or twice a month. The final team was selected in the second week of January [2019],” said Mr. Fan, one of the coaches of the team. Although no games were won, everyone was honored to represent the team. “It feels pretty cool honestly,” Jesse said. “I have never participated in a world cup tournament before.” However, with honor comes pressure. “There [was] pressure from myself in wanting to represent Taiwan and Chinese Taipei well as well as representing TAS,” Ms. Fung said. The team faced many challenges on the field in the tournament. “One of the biggest challenges is that Chinese Taipei [has] pretty weak [skills compared to other

teams] because touch just came to Taiwan five to six years ago [so we didn’t have that much experience]. [However], we learned a lot [from the tournament],” Sebastian said. Also, the physicality of some players were challenged as they played at high intensity for two games a day. “It’s tough. It’s just a game of sprinting up and down the field, trying to maintain [strength and energy] was very physically challenging because by day three and four your body is tired but you just have to keep going,” said Ms. Fung. Near the end, things were heated up. “People were getting tired, injured, sore and cranky,” said Jesse. Despite the challenges, happy memories

were made from experience.“It felt like old times. I was back playing with my old teammate Jesse, and it was really nice to play alongside someone who I knew personally, and have trained with before,” Kayleigh said. “It is always a great experience playing with Coach Fan, he is by far the best touch player and most patient coach I’ve ever had, and I really enjoyed being part of his team. I loved having so much TAS pride.” Overall, being on the team bonded members of the TAS community. “I think TAS has a very good athletic mindset and a lot of people take athletics seriously [and they are] always trying to make themselves better. Go Tigers!” Senen said.

Ms. Zhang embraces solitude to find her inner thoughts popular route. The total distance is 800 kilometers and takes about 35 days to finish. However, they did not start at the beginning but at a place 128 kilometers from Spain. “We started near Santiago at the 125 kilometer point and took five days to finish it. I didn’t expect it to take me only five days, we walked faster than anticipated,” Ms. Zhang said.

Ms. Zhang walking down the Camino de Santiago [PHOTO COURTESY OF MS. ZHANG]

By Amanda Chiu (‘20) After one month in solitude in the mountains last year, Ms. Simone Zhang, an Upper School English teacher walk at the El Camino de Santiago hiking route in Europe as a different way to sightsee and a way to understand her own feelings and how her body. “As a teacher, you talk a lot during class,

but this route allowed me to be in solitude and in touch with my inner thoughts,” Ms. Zhang said. Camino de Santiago, or the way of Saint James, is a pilgrimage route that starts in different parts of Europe and ends in Santiago, Spain. Ms. Zhang and her boyfriend walked on Camino Francés, also known as the French way, which is the most

“If you waste your time on this route daydreaming or thinking about something else that you can think of at home, you waste your time.” During these five days, she woke up at 9 a.m. and walked until 5 p.m. “Most of the people woke up at 5 a.m. to start their journey. Although we woke up late, compared to other people, we just wanted to allow ourselves to sleep in and wake up with our body rhythms,” Ms. Zhang said.

The route crossed through multiple countries in Europe and has different landscape along the way. In addition to finding her inner thoughts, Ms. Zhang was able to clear her mind and focus on the scenary. “When I am walking, I focus more on the scenes around me and remind myself to enjoy them. If you waste your time on this route daydreaming or thinking about something else that you can think of at home, you wasted your time here,” Ms. Zhang said. One of the most interesting moments for her, was being able to walk with people that had the same motives as her, which was to enjoy solitude and cleanse their minds. “There was a woman a few months ago from Taiwan, who was blind and used a cane when walking. She started from France and finished the entire 35 day journey to Santiago all by herself. The owner of the accommodation showed us her writing on the guest book when he [knew] that we are Taiwanese,” Ms. Zhang said while showing her fascination towards this woman who had such a strong perseverance. For many, Camino de Santiago is a route that can help them find their true identity through solitude. Through this route, Ms. Zhang was able to find her inner thoughts and clear her mind for a fresh start to the new school year. “If I had the chance, I would do it again from the beginning,” Ms. Zhang said.


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

30 days of backpacking: toilet paper not included

Chloe Mann (‘20) went on a four week backpacking trip in Alaska. In total, she traveled 170 miles on foot, carrying 20 kilograms worth of supplies as she walked. [PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHLOE MANN]

By Charlotte Lee (‘20) Before this summer, Chloe Mann (‘20) would never have considered herself an “outdoorsy” person. But after four weeks long weeks without showering, using toilet paper, or changing her shirt, she has surely become more in touch with nature. After completing National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) summer program in Palmer, Alaska, Chloe had walked 170 miles over the course of 30 days, carrying a backpack that weighed 20 kilograms the entire way. Everyday, her camp group trekked along the mountain ranges of the Alaskan tundra, setting up camp at night, and waking up the next day to start all over again. As beautiful as it sounds, with zero contact with the outside world, Chloe felt extremely isolated and helpless during the first week. “I felt lonely, but it was weird because physically, I wasn’t.” Despite the company of 13 other kids and three instructors, her spirits were low. The physical challenges she had to overcome made each day even more difficult.

The group walked for hours without stopping, carrying all of their supplies and going up and down steep hills. Halfway through the trip, Chloe began to feel extremely overwhelmed. She requested to call her mom, which took three days to process. “Once I heard her voice, I started crying, because it had been two straight weeks without hearing anything from anyone I knew.” But Chloe did not receive the comforting, sympathetic response that one would respect from her mother. “She was really upset [that I was calling her] because she thought I was giving up on the trip,” Chloe said. Suddenly, the call ended due to poor connection. Chloe tried to call her mom back, but no one picked up. “I thought she was really mad at me, but it turns out she was just washing the dye out of her hair.” “Naturally, I was worried for her safety because I knew the trip would be strenuous walking 10 miles a day carrying a full pack and I would have no contact with her for the

whole month, but I knew she would finish strong.” Chloe’s mom, Christine Mann, said. “When Chloe called me I was surprised, but soon realized that all she needed was to hear my voice. After hearing about all the interesting stories like running out of food, grizzly bear and caribou encounters, and climbing up 500 feet tall scree fields, I think those unique experiences will help her become more confident to face any kind of challenges that come her way.” Even though it was cut short, something about that call gave Chloe the surge of energy she needed to keep going. “I think all I needed to do was hear her voice, and feel that sense of comfort.” She then saw herself faced with two options: either to continue with the trip just as she had before, or to make the best of her unique yet challenging experience. A few days passed, and it became clear that she had chosen the latter. Not only was she having more fun, but she was elected to be a team leader for one of the smaller groups during the

third leg of the trip. Soon, she adapted to the peculiarities of backpacking in nature, and even discovered that rocks were a terrific replacement for toilet paper when in the wild. But still, each day just as as the one before. During the last week, food rations started to run out. “I couldn’t sleep because I was so hungry, so I went outside to find food,” Chloe said. “I found this other guy doing the same thing. So we just kind of sat there, eating apple cider powder and cream cheese, because it was the only food we had left.” After an incredible 30 days in Alaska, coming back to Taiwan and returning to civilization fully equipped with internet and functioning cell service, Chloe made an extra effort to reduce the amount of time she spent on her phone. “I definitely stepped away. I told myself that I wouldn’t continue [using my phone as much as I had before],” she said. “[The trip] just made me appreciate the little things, like even showers, and clothes. And toilet paper.”

SUMMER OF ART By Vanessa Kang (‘21)

This summer, some TAS upper school students embraced their inner artist by traveling to different regions across the world to develop their skills in art and design. The Blue & Gold captures the essence of their summer of art.

Evelyn Pao (‘20) Over the summer, Evelyn Pao (‘20) went to Otis College of Art in Los Angeles for art camp to pursue her interest in fashion and to further her skill in drawing. Evelyn took fashion design and drawing from costume model to develop her understanding of fashion and the basics of creating garments. Though Evelyn had prior experience in fashion design in the Taipei American School’s I Love Art (ILA) fashion club, her experience was mostly limited to altering and combining existing garments. “I had never made an entire garment on my own before this summer,” Evelyn said. “It was really cool to create clothing from scratch.” Evelyn had a lot fun shopping for fabrics that matched her red and black gothic aesthetic. However, one challenge she was forced to overcome was that many types of fabrics she took an interest in were very expensive such as leather and gold patterned fabric and had to be replaced with similar fabrics that were comparatively inexpensive.

Harrison Yu(‘20) Despite her enthusiasm for art camp, Evelyn found it somewhat difficult to live in a dorm and living on a campus. “I just didn’t click with my roommate,” Evelyn said. “But sometimes you just have to learn to work with people you can’t necessarily get along with.” Through her time in Otis, Evelyn discovered that she would like to go to art school in the future and would be open to a career in art. She encourages students who are unsure about what they want to do in the future to take a summer class. “Maybe you will find what you love,” Evelyn said.

Evelyn went to Otis College of Art to pursue fashion design. [VANESSA KANG/THE BLUE & GOLD]

From creating his own garments to creating films, Harrison Yu (‘20) spent his entire summer in New York living the life of a full-time artist. Harrison engaged in a month-long program in NYU TISCH doing a filmmaker’s workshop. Taking film production from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day and film theory every other day from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night, Harrison’s NYU experience was packed. At night, Harrison lived in a dorm and would hang out with roommates in his dorm. “Everyone was so close and from the same department,”said Harrison. “I enjoyed it so much. I even accidently broke curfew a few times and was forced to go to a time management workshop.” Even though Harrison’s interests did not align with his roommate’s, they were able to exchange their newly acquired skills in dance, drama and music production with one another. In addition to film at NYU, Harrison took a 2-week long fashion design class in The New School: Parsons School of Design. One of the most interesting assignments he did involved creating an outfit only out of black fabric and materials. In the end, he created a little black dress.

Prior to his summer camp experience, Harrison already had lots of experience when it came to creating his own garments and the process of sketching and design. “TAS has a lot of the classes and the resources that NYU has,” Harrison said. “In the end, it was mostly to experience NYC culture and see how I’d like it.” Spending the summer at NYU and Parsons, Harrison got to fully experience the culture of New York and got a taste of college life in the U.S. “For now, I still can’t decide,” Harrison said. “But when the time comes, I’ll know which school to go to.”

Harrison (‘20) poses with his little black dress. [VANESSA KANG/THE BLUE & GOLD]


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

I tried Instagram-famous Sugar Bear Hair Vitamins and here’s what happened

Phoebe Chen (‘21) compares her hair before and after taking the Sugar Bear Hair vitamins [PHOEBE CHEN/THE BLUE & GOLD]

By Phoebe Chen (‘21) Almost anyone who is an active user of social media has seen a post advertising little blue gummy bears known as Sugar Bear Hair vitamins, a trademark of BeSweet Creations. The rumored-to-be delicious vitamin has appeared on numerous celebrities’ Instagram feeds, including the Kardashian-Jenner clan, YouTube influencers and Instagram models. After seeing countless ads on social media, I decided to test the validity of the Instagram-famous gummies.

I seem to be one of the few consumers that saw real, impressive results. The official Sugar Bear Hair website claims that their supplements give customers “everything they need to grow the healthiest longest hair possible” by preventing breakage,

improving elasticity and increasing hair strength. The website also claims that the “majority of [their] customers found their nails and skin quality improve over time.” However, many other sources claim otherwise.

Investing in Sugar Bear Hair may mean needlessly losing 30 extra dollars. According to a study conducted by Consumer Lab, an online website that identifies the nutritional quality in products on the market, the vitamins in Sugar Bear Hair barely exceed the amount that can be found in regularly consumed everyday foods such as salmon, yeast and egg yolk. Thus, it is unlikely that Sugar Bear Hair consumers will see any results whatsoever. “From my experience, I saw literally no improvements,” Jade Hsu (‘21) said.

“If you’re actually looking for something that will help your hair grow, I don’t recommend buying the gummies.” Despite Sugar Bear Hair’s many negative reviews, I seem to be one of the few consumers that saw real, impressive results. Prior to consuming the supplements, I had approximately 18 inches of hair and an uneven haircut. After I finished my bottle of Sugar Bear Hair, my hair was no longer uneven and had grown roughly one inch longer. Yet, despite the improvements I saw in my hair, I noticed that the other aspects Sugar Bear Hair claims to improve barely changed for myself. Before taking the gummy supplements, my nails easily bent and broke. After a month of vitamin consumption, I continued to observe the same behavior. Although Sugar Bear Hair may have stimulated faster hair growth for me, I recommend people interested in the supplements to be cautious before purchasing. The vitamin does not work for all customers, and investing in Sugar Bear Hair may mean needlessly losing 30 extra dollars.

Kylie Jenner promotes Sugar Bear Hair vitamins on her Instagram [PHOEBE CHEN/ THE BLUE & GOLD]

Capsule hotels are the new future By Nicole Chang (‘21)

Nicole Chang (‘21) arrives at a capsule hotel in Tokyo. [NICOLE CHANG/THE BLUE &


After arriving at Narita International Airport in Tokyo, you quickly push your way through the throngs of tired travelers to Terminal 2. As you make your way down the escalator, you immediately see the neutral yet bright interior of the main lobby at Nine Hours (9h) capsule hotel. Upon check-in, you quietly tiptoe your way through the dimly lit hallway, passing by a line of modern and sleek capsules that are neatly stacked one on top of the other. Although situated in one of the busiest airports in Japan, Nine Hours provides a quiet and cozy space perfectly fit to accommodate travelers. Capsule hotels have grown extremely popular in the past few years. According to an article by Forbes, the compound annual growth rate of capsule hotels are said to grow by 6.03 percent from 2016 to the end of 2022; its market is also said to reach $226 million USD in 2022 from $156 million USD in 2016. Capsule hotels are known for their futuristic and luxurious style, private enclosed beds or capsules, and affordable prices. Like hostels, their bathrooms and locker rooms are usually communal. Although I had watched numerous videos on YouTube and read various articles online positively reviewing

capsule hotels in Japan, I must admit I was skeptical at first. How comfortable would the capsules be? How much room would I have? Would the communal bathrooms and locker rooms be clean? Upon arriving at Nine Hours, I was pleasantly surprised. Nine Hours is divided into two sections, providing separate facilities for both men and women.

Nine Hours provides a quiet and cozy space perfectly fit to accommodate travelers. Customers are welcomed to stay in the hotel for up to nine hours (hence the name) , and are given clean pajamas, towels, slippers and toothbrushes along with full access to the lockers and sleeping pods upon check-in. They can choose to pay $4,900 yen ($1,400 NT) per night, or $1,500 yen ($430 NT) for an hour and $500 yen ($140 NT) for every additional hour in the hotel. The capsules were extremely clean and spacious; they measured at 110 centimeters wide, 220 centimeters deep,

and 110 centimeters tall. The design was also very sleek and elegant. The capsules definitely took me by surprise, as I had expected them to be small. However, after staying overnight in one of the capsules, I felt like I had more than enough room. Although the capsules did not have any doors, plastic blinds were provided instead. A downside of this, however, was that there was not a lot of privacy, and there was no way to block out noise. Furthermore, the bathrooms were immaculate. With its bright white lights, large modern mirrors and wide sinks, the bathroom provided a nice contrast against the dark sleeping area. The shower stalls were also spacious, and shampoo, conditioner and body soap were also provided. Although the white wooden lockers on the other side of the bathrooms were tall, they were too small to fit all of my belongings in the locker. Overall, the capsules and bathrooms were both clean and spacious, but the lack of privacy and space to store belongings made it slightly less convenient than a normal hotel. Nonetheless, with its minimalist yet modern design this hotel would be perfect for any single travelers looking for an affordable and comfy place to stay.


the blue & gold october 8, 2019

Student journalists take journalism to the next level at newsroom by the bay

Audrey Hwang (‘23) poses with her friends at Stanford University. [AUDREY HWANG/THE BLUE & GOLD]

By Audrey Hwang (‘23) Newsroom by the Bay, a student journalism program at Stanford University, teaches students how to use multimedia kits, conduct interviews, and write journalistic articles.The use of high tech cameras and recording devices in the multimedia kit taught student journalists to report professionally. This seven day intensive summer journalism camp consists of morning workshops on photography, journalistic writing, and informative journalistic tactics followed by an afternoon of reporting and research. On the third day of camp, everyone went to downtown San Francisco to sights that were related to articles they wrote.

The freedom of choosing diverse topics to cover about the evolution of the Bay Area was a great opportunity for everyone on the team to combine their personal interests to a greater extent when writing articles about the evolution of homelessness, inflation of real estate, book shopping, and thrifting in the Bay Area. Everyone was able to write about something that sparked interest which made the camp full of passion and enthusiasm. The evening sessions were listening to guest speakers who were professional journalists speaking about their experiences in real-world journalism. Students were amazed by the fanatical

stories of journalists tackling real-world issues involving suspense, fear, and the discovery of phenomenal stories.

This camp definitely gave me a sense of real-world journalism. These speakers were an inspiration to many student journalists as it motivated student journalists to take their stories

to make a greater impact — an impact on communities beyond their own. Going behind the scenes of a realworld journalist was pure fascination for many student journalists who only get to experience writing and reporting within their relatively small school communities. Overall, Newsroom by the Bay was filled with lasting friendships, memories of hard work, and the fulfilling seven day experience of being an active student journalist. This student journalism program is recommended for anyone who is interested in trying out journalism, developing journalistic skills, or looking for ways to take journalism to the next level.

Visting schools around the US: college tour review Pomona College

By Sabrina Chang (‘21)

The Carnegie Library is one of Pomona’s “signature” buildings. [NICOLE CHANG/THE BLUE & GOLD]

Pomona College is a private liberal arts college in Claremont, California, and the founding member of the Claremont Colleges consortium. When touring the school, I was extremely impressed with the campus. Pomona’s buildings give off a Greek architecture or old rustic feel with their all-white exteriors and red roofs. Pomona

experience, and fosters stronger bonds with students and faculty alike. During the information session, the speaker discussed the common love of learning that Pomona students share, which contrasts with the career-focused view that other college students often exhibit. I think Pomona College is a great choice for any student seeking an intellectually challenging, but liberating, experience.

George Washington University By Allison Kwan (‘21)

The bronze river horse statue is one of GW’s statues. [ALLISON KWAN/THE BLUE & GOLD]

College is also adjacent to the city area of Los Angeles, which provides great opportunities for various internships. Although Pomona College is extremely small, the five school consortium enables students to cross-register and meet students from across all campuses; this significantly expands the number of opportunities. The “small school” experience also encourages a more intimate educational

George Washington University is a private university located in Washington D.C. What is unique about GW is that the campus is walking distance from the White House, making it very convenient for students to visit and get opportunities for internships. Throughout the campus, there are many statues including multiple George Washington statues for visitors to take

photos as well a bronze river horse statue with its nose is slightly worn due to passerby rubbing it as it is said to bring good luck to students studying for upcoming exams. Campus culture is a very large part of the student’s experience at GW. Students are able to attend many festivals that happen year round fostering learning opportunities and an abundance of recreational activities and have fun outside of the academic curriculum.

My favorite part of GW was the ability to have a strong student-teacher relationship. Students are also able to interact with teachers while teachers know their students by name. I found that classes are also recorded for students to review classroom lessons with ease. I expeceially enjoyed the ability to have the potential to grow as a student and bond with the students through many different types of activities.

students off at wherever they need to go. The BU campus stretches nearly 2 miles and would take about 30 minutes to walk through. Despite BU’s gorgeous campus and fantastic resources, the tuition of BU was “driving three Teslas off a cliff” as our BU’s tour guide explained. Because of this, BU offers a lot of generous financial aid to both local and international students. Overall, BU is a fantastic school that

any student would be lucky to attend. Just remember to wear your comfy shoes.

Parsons School of Design By Vanessa Kang (‘20)

The Boston University sign is shown above. [VANESSA KANG/THE BLUE & GOLD]

Boston University (BU) is a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. Despite the fact that I had heard lots about BU prior to my first tour, my first impression of BU’s campus was that it was significantly larger than I had imagined. All the buildings of BU were very spread out and to get through parts of the large campus to get to class, shuttle buses travel through BU in order to drop

BU is a fantastic school that any student would be lucky to attend.

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The Blue & Gold Volume XXVI, Issue 1  

The Blue & Gold Volume XXVI, Issue 1