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April 2011: Vol. VII, Issue 6

“Memory Wall” Debuts to Mixed Reviews From Students by Julie Leong, Managing Editor and Elise Jiang, PR/Liaison

When students returned to school in January, relaxed and rested from their winter vacations, they were met with the onslaught of all-too-familiar assignments, quizzes, and projects. But not everything at ISB had remained the same. The installation of an illuminated “Memory Wall” opposite the MS/HS Library came as a surprise to most students. Created to commemorate ISB’s 30th Anniversary, the wall contains images of important milestones in the school’s development. According to the ISB 30th Anniversary Wall Committee (consisting of Ms. Drakulovic, Secretary to the Head of School; Ms. Green, UES Assistant Principal; and Mr. Hillman, Communications Office Director; among others), the wall serves as a “lasting commemorative tribute to the untold story of ISB – where we came from and how we got to where we are today.” The design concept of the wall, created by Infinity Design & Engineering, is “a tree that is spreading, growing, reaching out and changing, just like ISB’s community members spreading to all corners of the globe.” The wall, naturally, has inspired both positive and negative reactions from the student body. A survey was conducted for this article, in which participants were first informed of the wall’s cost (RMB 380,000: including design, construction, software, maintenance, and tech support for the LED screen) and the source of its funding (the ISB PTA)1. Of the 136 high school students surveyed, 122 (89.7%) disagreed with the decision to build the wall, whereas only 12 (10.3%) supported it (See “Survey Results” Page 2). Additionally, of 10 high school teachers surveyed anonymously, 5 expressed opposition to the wall. Those who disagreed were also asked for the reasons for their opposition, and the results were telling: 87 of the 122 believed that the money used to build the wall could have been better spent elsewhere, 29 cited both the cost and personal dislike for the wall’s appearance, and 6 cited other reasons, such as the wall’s energy usage or the resultant narrowing of the hallway. The primary concern among surveyed students was the wall’s cost. “380,000 RMB is a lot of money,” says Chris Nobre (12). “I’m just not sure that the wall is the best use for it. For example, if just a fraction of that cost was donated to charity instead, it would be helping people in a real and direct way.” However, as Renee Zhang (12) points out, the PTA already does “regularly contribute to community charity efforts” through sponsorships and donations. “People get upset when a big amount of money is spent on things, but the wall is a long-run benefit to the school,” reasons economics teacher Mr. Green. Continued on Page 2. 1

According to the ISB 30th Anniversary Wall Committee.

Inside This Issue: Operation Smile: Mission Success Disaster Fatigue at ISB Electives for CAS hours? Spotlight on the Talent Show The Bookworm Festival Talking With Emma Donaghue Adventure in Beijing Congratulations to Kathy Zhou (10), winner of the Break’s Nameplate Design Contest!

pg. 2 pg. 3 pg. 4 pg. 5 pg. 6 pg. 7 pg. 9


China & Beyond “Memory Wall,” continued from Page 1. “There’s an opportunity cost for everything, economically speaking, but I certainly think the wall is worth it. It brings back so many memories and keeps the school’s history alive.” Much of the student opposition to the wall appears to stem from a lack of understanding about the project. Many of the students surveyed mentioned that the funds should have been spent on areas such as new performing arts equipment or textbooks, although in actuality, the “budget for instructional materials was not impacted” at all by the construction of the wall, according to the Committee. Furthermore, some students question the relevance of some of the images presented on the wall. “The pictures start dating from the 1980s, and I can’t relate to them at all since I only came here in 2007,” says Thea Nygren (11). However, such concerns should be put to rest by the Committee’s assurances that the LED screen will be updated frequently with different images and videos and that the static photos on the wall itself will be changed twice a year. The first group of static photos on the wall was chosen by the Committee, but the ongoing responsibility for the project belongs to the Alumni Division of the ISB Communications Department. “I think [the wall] is a really modern, interesting way of capturing the school’s history and showing people how it came to be what it is today. Plus, it’s great to look at as we’re walking to lunch,” adds Emily Zhang (11).

Staff List

Editors-in-Chief Melissa Powers Stephanie Zhou Managing Editor Julie Leong Section Editors Francesca Bottorff Emily Chang Rena Minegishi Amelia Park Teresa Teo Eric Wang PR / Liason Elise Jiang Journalists Maura Dentino Cindy Liu Emma Monaghan So Yeon Park Rebecca Qian Amanda Song Rachel Sun JJ Wong Brian Zhan Nicole Zhu

“The wall is evolving and changing and will continue to do so in the future,” affirms Mr. Hillman. “The project will rest in the hands of the entire ISB community… We hope that students will be excited to be an ongoing part of carrying a deeper understanding of what ISB really is into the future.” Perhaps when better informed about the purpose and direction of the Memory Wall, students will be more likely to embrace it as a permanent addition to the architecture – and the history – of ISB.

Cover Art Kathy Zhou Artists / Photographers Rosalind Chang Maura Dentino Chan Ah Jung HeRa Kang Kathy Summers

Operation Smile: Nanjing Mission a Success

by Brian Zhan, Staff Reporter For the last decade, the organization Operation Smile has provided free surgeries for orphans with cleft palates in China. One of the most recent surgeries took place in December, 2010, at the Jiangsu Provincial Hospital in Nanjing, where volunteers from Operation Smile charities across China – such as myself – were able to participate in a three-day volunteer service. While some ISB students, like Ethan Tseng (9), believe that this surgery’s funding “could have been better spent on another surgeries such as [those for the] heart,” the patients of Operation Smile have a very different perspective. Many patients I spoke to during the Nanjing trip were excited about having their cleft palates corrected because they then would not be stigmatized because of their facial deformities. About a quarter to a half percent of orphans in China have a congenital malformation disease that causes cleft palates1. These facial deformities prevent children from eating and speaking normally, as well as from completing a number of other straightforward tasks. Though the surgery to cure this only costs a few thousand RMB, families that have adopted orphans with this deformity are often too poor to afford them. What Operation Smile does is provide free surgeries to these orphans. During the first day, the Operation


Smile leadership team held a three-hour opening ceremony, beginning at 8:00 A.M. The patients, ranging from 3 to 18 years of age, arrived at 11:00 A.M. and were organized into three separate rooms. Medical experts registered each patient and carried out various safety measures, such as weighing each patient to ensure that the surgery could be safely and effectively carried out on every beneficiary of the operation. Volunteers helped to direct patients to various places to verify that all necessary medical consultations had been completed. Afterwards, patients were led to rooms where they rested in preparation for the surgeries. The next day, three surgery rooms were opened up for Operation Smile services. Approximately ten patients were treated in each surgery room per day. Because the patients were not allowed to eat one day prior to surgeries, the babies were all treated early in the morning to prevent them from becoming too hungry. Prior to each one-hour operation, babies were anesthetized. The nurses then placed a mask above a patient’s face to absorb leaking blood, and the doctor corrected the facial deformity through careful incisions and stitches. Unfortunately, not all the surgeries performed were successful. On the third day of operation, in fact, surgeries failed

Advisors Cinder Merritt Griffin Loynes on two children due to the more complicated nature of their cleft lip or palate. However, these failures are, for the most part, anomalies in the general success of Operation Smile-sponsored surgeries. Many Operation Smile volunteers have been inspired by the trips to Nanjing. Carol Jin (9), a regular participant in the event, had the opportunity to actively participate during various Operation Smile missions, including the one at Nanjing. She states that she is consistently moved by the operations because “of the many benefits this surgery brings to patients.” 1

Operation Smile Charity Hospital Hangzhou, Jiangsu Province Hospital of TCM, Jiangsu Provincial Stomatological Hospital and Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital.” Letter to Operation Smile Participants. Dec. 2010. MS. Nanjing, China. Photo Courtesy of Maura Dentino

The Scoop

by Stephanie Zhou, Editor-in-Chief • PRAY FOR JAPAN A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck 80 miles off the eastern coast of Japan on March 11, triggering tsunamis across the region. The overall death toll, at the time of this issue’s publication, has exceeded 10,000, and there are still several persons unaccounted for. Damage from the earthquake has been compounded by fears of a nuclear meltdown at the twin Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants in Fukushima. As of April 5, some 80,000 residents who work and live around the power plants have had to evacuate. However, officials have stated that there should be no risk to those living outside a 30km radius from the zone. Several countries have begun to restrict food imports from Japan, although the actual risk from said imports is unclear. A “Pray For Japan” awareness day was held at ISB on March 31, and a subsequent fundraiser will be held on April 7 and 8. • LIBYA Inspired by pro-democracy revolts in the Arab world, Libyan residents attempted a “day of rage” on February 17 against oppressive leader Muammar Gaddafi. Hostilities slowly evolved into that of a civil war, and the situation has escalated into a problem of international urgency.

China & Beyond A controversial U.N.-sanctioned military campaign, designed to remove Gaddafi from power, is well underway. The primarily Western-led intervention, which has led to at least one hundred civilian casualties, initially drew global censure however, recent polls conducted by agencies such as CNN imply public support. The assassination of Gaddafi, who once blamed the uprising on al-Qaeda and the consumption of hallucinogenic Nescafé, has been proposed by Libyan rebels and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. • IVORY COAST Despite his loss to Alassane Outtara in November’s presidential elections, Laurent Gbagbo has still refused to relinquish his power. Violence resulting from the post-election crisis in the Ivory Coast has intensified, amplifying fears that this conflict, too, will escalate into civil war. Nearly 450,000 refugees have fled their homes since the crisis began, to nearby countries such as Liberia. • UNION-STRIPPING Governor Scott Walker’s divisive bill passed in the Wisconsin Senate, effectively stripping unions of collective bargaining rights; most government workers will no longer be able to negotiate for wage increases. The new regulations altogether act as an eight percent pay cut for the average worker. • NEW AMBASSADOR IN DA HOUSE President Obama has named current Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke as the replacement for current U.S. Ambassador to

Bieber Fever is over... here comes the Black Plague.

China and potential presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, whose resignation will be effective in April. Huntsman’s son, William, attended ISB last year. Locke is the first Asian-American to be nominated as a U.S.-China ambassador. • BLACK FRIDAY Thirteen-year-old Rebecca Black, whose viral hit “Friday” has garnered over 65 million views on Youtube, has been signed – with the aid of Ryan Seacrest – with manager Debra Baum of DB Entertainment. Despite all of the negative criticism surrounding Black’s debut, it’s likely that she’ll be having the the last laugh – all the way to the bank. Black is rumored to have made at least $1 million dollars since the song was released on March 14. As of April 2, Black and her family are embroiled in a lawsuit with Ark Music Factory over the rights to the song. Images courtesy of and http://

Don’t Let Disaster Fatigue Get the Best of You by Francesca Bottorff, Section Editor school were radically reduced. ISB students succumbed, perhaps inevitably – and like any other group so geographically removed from the beneficiaries of their fundraising – to rescue burnout.

To cultivate and ensure a strategy for sustainable, targeted fundraising that focuses on a single initiative is no easy task. The slew of charity groups at ISB are generally focused on funding a particular cause. Michael Gao (10), who is secretary for Me to We organizaKnee-deep in debt and no signs of relief. tion, a club that “raises money for the eduThe earthquake in Haiti back in Janu- cation of children in rural provinces across ary of 2010 arrived completely out of the China,” believes that ideally, even charity blue - a year later, the impact of the devas- groups with a focused objective should be tation that followed is still being felt. But attuned and prepared to give help to causes for weeks after the initial event, ISB’s com- that are greatest need at the moment while munity shifted into a frenetic “fundraising “maintaining [the club’s] original purpose.” mode,” hosting bake sales, concerts, and myriad other events to raise money for Most students believe, however, that devastated victims. One month afterwards, to adjust where the club’s funds are going a similar catastrophe wreaked havoc in depending on current events is both a curChile, but the magnitude of attention it re- sory and difficult decision to make. A deviceived was markedly less, for a reason that ation from a club’s original founding cause Kailene Chen (11) believes is simple: “Stu- to other projects would indicate, accorddents are more focused on raising money ing to Joey Cheung (11), “a short attention than the cause itself.” span.” Victims of the Haiti earthquake, for example, are still in tremendous need of Consequently, the prospects of effec- aid, even though attention began to falter tively delivering sustainable aid from our in the immediate proceeding months, los-

ing the world’s attention to newer disasters. Biology teacher Ms. Fournier, however, advocates funding sustainability through long-term rebuilding efforts, and doesn’t think that the process has to be a consuming one: “Using well-established programs like the Red Cross is always a good option.” Is the ISB community failing to carry out its philanthropic duties, or can the rapidly flagging response for Haiti be rightly attributed to the simple but quantifiable issue of competing causes? After all, the tremor might have qualified as a staggering seven on the Richter scale, but the majority of ISB students were completely unaffected by the earthquake. A charity club’s focus on its own initial – often China-centric – cause doesn’t mean that we should dismiss other natural disasters that make global headlines. That kind of apathy stems from a dangerous “lack of education,” continues Ms. Fournier. “Awareness has died out, but there is undoubtedly still a need.” Sympathy in the form of lip service can be readily delivered. But to allow the far-removed and broken lives of others simply settle into our peripheral vision reflects nothing short of indifference.


Student Life by Amanda Song, Staff Reporter ISB’s Preservers of the Green but noted that the leftover salt actually led to core members, Emily Zhou (10), feels that

MUG SHOTS: Greenkeepers having a mug sale.

You may have noticed the labels on the paper towel dispensers in ISB bathrooms, or own a mug with your own custom-made design. If you’re a teacher, you may still be using the mugs that mysteriously replaced all of the paper cups in the faculty lounge last year. Greenkeepers is the student-led organization behind these efforts to reduce ISB’s environmental footprint and may be easily identified in a line-up with other charity organizations. In comparison with behemoths such as Habitat for Humanity, Roots & Shoots, or Nightingale Charity Club, Greenkeepers is considerably smaller and more low-key. Founded in early 2008, the organization is currently comprised of 5 “core” members, mainly high school sophomores, who finalize decisions on behalf of the group, and some twenty other members, most of whom are middle school students. One of the group’s

in terms of size, Greenkeepers is “more the road becoming even more slippery. Afcondensed, which allows for greater ef- ter a brief discussion, Sodexo, the company ficiency.” Similarly, Ms. Fiona Jia, the su- responsible for ISB facility management, pervisor of the group, comments that the recognized the issue and agreed to use less group had hoped to remain relatively small, salt. In response to Greenkeeper’s salt rein order to avoid “lengthy and complicated meetings,” which may tend to plague larger duction initiative, Sodexo facilities manager Leo Zheng commented, “We were quite organizations. Greenkeepers is also different in terms impressed by their concern for the environof its primary objectives and approach to- ment. They have been the first group at ISB wards environmental protection. As op- to find us and share concerns [about this isposed to primarily spreading awareness sue].” Core member Olivia Tan (10) emphathrough fundraisers, Greenkeepers focuses sizes, “Greenkeepers doesn’t exactly focus on awareness-based initiatives, specifically on one big environmental issue, but on the relating: how many paper towels we pull countless little aspects of our everyday life,” from dispensers, the amount of food we the often unconscious choices we make and dump into the trash, and whether or not actions we take. The Greenkeepers’ efforts have not we leave the tap running when washing our hands. Founding member Jeffery Yu (10) gone unnoticed. They were recently mensays, “We focus more on raising awareness tioned in China Daily, and were also invited of environmental protection, and not sell- to the Global Sustainable Leaders’ Forum (GSLF) that was held in Beijing in November ing or promoting the organization itself.” Greenkeepers’ mission and dedica- 2010, where they were present as the orgation towards influencing the people around nization with the youngest representatives. You might spot more traces of Greenthem is palpable in one of its most recent keepers around school. Its fingerprints can efforts. In early February 2011, Greenkeepers noticed that there was an excess amount be spotted wherever there are resources to of salt being sprinkled onto road between preserve. Though quiet at first glance, their into a crescendo. ISB and Yosemite and decided to talk to the volume may be evolvingPhoto Courtesy of Amanda Song school’s facilities management. Not only did the organization find this practice wasteful, by So Yeon Park, Staff Reporter While the system definitely provides a conflicts with wider range of options for students look- the original ing for ways to meet their CAS require- goal of CAS ments, it is not currently being used by as suggested eleventh grade diploma students. “None in the IBO of the juniors [are currently enrolled in booklet; to this system],” states CAS coordinator Ms. e n c o u r a g e Gillund. “Part of the reason that no one “students in a is involved right now is that the option range of activi- Not such a pain in the CAS... was not yet available at the beginning of ties alongside their the first semester, when eleventh graders academic studies throughout the Diploma had a junior study hall plus some time for Programme experience.” homework during their IB study hall. The However, students like HeRa Kang decision was to begin the option in Janu- (11) believe that this is not necessarary in case there was anyone who could ily true, since “CAS electives are different benefit this semester.” from normal classes in the sense that CAS It is true that some students showed students are not graded, but rewarded interest in the option. However, some un- CAS credit depending on their level of avoidable limitations to this system have participation.” Ms. Gillund also explains still dissuaded the students. As Fred Chang that “The way we looked at it was that a (11) points out, “Students can only join few students achieve some of the learna CAS elective if one of their interests is ing outcomes through regularly scheduled available during their free blocks, which private lessons in activities such as guitar, means that this option is not available for dance, or drawing. If an elective of perall students with extra time in their sched- sonal interest is offered at school, it is also ules.” regularly scheduled; the only difference is Ms. Gillund agrees, further noting that it’s during the ISB day.” She adds that that “sometimes the number of students “In formulating an overall CAS plan, the that can enroll in the elective class can student still chooses whether or not to do be limited if the size of the existing class this.” is already too big.” Furthermore, for stuAs this year’s sophomores sign up for dents already taking a year-long elective the IB diploma program, it is expected that like Concert Choir or Orchestra, taking more students will give their thoughts to CAS electives is not an option, since they this option. While at the moment, the limdo not have any free blocks for another itations to the CAS elective system seem elective. to be based upon an individual student’s Naturally, some may wonder if taking schedule, it is certainly an even more useon classes as CAS projects fundamentally ful and convenient option for stressed full diploma students.

Electing CAS Electives The concept of achieving the perfect

balance between academics and activities is highly idealistic. IB Diploma students are expected to own up to such an image by participating in a range of activities that fall into three different categories: Creativity, Action and Service (CAS). While diploma students manage to achieve the CAS learning outcomes through commitments to long-term projects, there are times when they wish they could fulfill the requirement through school courses since some struggle to find time for appropriate afterschool activities. To meet this student demand, a new option allowing diploma students to take semester elective courses as CAS projects was introduced in this spring. The system provides options for creativity and action; for example, students may enroll in Ceramics or Team Sports, provided there are available spaces after course registrations are complete for all other students. The idea, initially proposed by a PTA representative to IB Coordinator Ms. Farr, was that students could receive CAS credit in the place of grades and course credit. As in any other class, students would still be expected to demonstrate full commitment to the elective courses for which they sign up. It was recognized from the start that this option would not appeal to all students. Some would wonder if they could manage to complete homework if they committed an entire study hall block to an elective; others would find that their preference for one of the electives was not available during their study hall block.


Photo Courtesy of

Arts & Culture Sitting in the hushed auditorium of the National Opera House, I leaned back as the familiar overture of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker, began. Instead of the Christmas party scene that was expected, the curtains opened to a traditional Chinese temple fair. Puzzled, I glanced down at the program to reaffirm that I was watching The Nutcracker and not some other show. Throughout the rest of the program, I was both surprised and pleased as to how well the National Ballet of China fused Chinese styles and ideas into the conventionally Western ballet. Over the past decades, events such as “Chinese Nutcracker” have become more common throughout China. As the country opens itself up to the world and matures economically, an increasing number of Western principles have entered and influenced Chinese culture. “In the olden days, the ideal artist was one who could perfectly copy the traditional style of painting. Now, however, the style of painting in China has been opened up to foreign influences. You can see this especially in those artists who have studied outside the country,” states Mrs. McDonald, a middle and high school Chinese teacher. A quick stroll down any section of Beijing’s 798 Art District nearly guarantees that one will find works which combine traditional Chinese painting

Eastern vs. Western Art

with abstract sweeps of bright color – only one such example of the modern, foreign, twist on traditional art. Students such as Dan Zhang (12) have also been noticing this change in cultural expression. “At the moment there is a huge music scene in China, especially involving rock clubs. Traditional Chinese instruments and styles are being combined with Western instrumentation and technique,” explains Zhang. “It has definitely produced some pretty interesting sounds.” Whilst many artists in China willingly embrace this interaction between cultures, others feel that Chinese artists are taking too many “cues” from Western art instead of acting independently. Ho Joon Shin (9) believes, “It’s great that China is developing not only economically but culturally as well, but I think that Chinese people should be more creative and not just copy other people’s styles.” Gao Yang, a Chinese painter who achieved international success while living in Italy, agrees with the sentiment. “In the future, young Chinese artists will have to work together with the West,” Yang says. “They have to create something new. Right now that isn’t happening.”

by Rachel Sun, Staff Reporter

Cracking good show.

But as the final curtain call for “Chinese Nutcracker” came to an end and the theater started to empty out, I looked at my program once again. Sitting there that night, the spectacular performance I had just witnessed not only connected with audience members from all over the world, but also was a first-rate example of how China is changing. For better or for worse, the fusion of cultures happening right now will provide the younger generation of Chinese the perfect opportunity to create new styles and shape new forms of artistic expression. Image Courtesy of

Chinese Central Television

The Bookworm Literary Festival Comes to ISB by Melissa Powers, Editor-in-Chief

From the 4th – 18th of March this year, bookstore-cum-restaurant The Bookworm hosted its annual International Literary Festival (BILF). Described as a “unique celebration of literature and ideas” by the festival directors, BILF featured writers from all over the world in over 100 events. Luckily enough, ISB was able to work in synchronization with The Bookworm in order to bring some of the festival into the school. Prior to the event, ISB agreed to be one of several international schools that took part in a supplementary International Schools Program. “Our involvement was that we would have visiting authors,” explains social studies teacher Ms. Pratt, who was one of the faculty members in charge of coordinating the school-based events. “It isn’t the first time we’ve had visiting authors as part of the festival, although this time we had more than we normally would.” Ye olde bookwyrm.


Student reactions to the features

were, for the most part, very positive. “I thought it was really interesting!” gushed Charmaine Wong (11), who was able to take part in Argentine author Guillermo Martínez’s Theory of Knowledge (ToK) lecture on mathematics. “Especially because of all the interactive activities there were. Although, sometimes, I didn’t really get the math questions.”

In addition to the general excitement of the events, students found in-class visits or workshops a useful compliment to their actual studies. “It made you question everything you know,” explains Liam Sohi (11), also in regards to Martínez’s session. “We didn’t really learn stuff, but we kind of un-learned stuff – which is what happens in ToK anyways.” In agreement is Alice Ren (12), who participated in a workshop for the Thespians. “We played a lot of theatre games and [the guest] also read selections from his book that he felt were interesting. It was definitely useful.” Suzy Roberts, Head of External Relations at Dulwich College, also agreed with the academic value of BILF. Ms. Roberts, whose school has sponsored the festival for three years, explains that the motivation behind the sponsorship was “supporting a community event that sounded more educational. [Additionally,] because we’re sponsors, [we had] preferential choices for the school program.” Another aspect of the festival that both students and faculty appreciated was the variety of guest speakers present. “We finally got to hear a math person talking,”

Kevin Su (11) happily pointed out. Additionally, Ms. Pratt’s interest in the festival was “because of the Social Studies department – to get more non-fiction authors into the school. We get fiction authors, which is good, but [not necessarily] for economics or history students.” Of course, the end of the BILF brings up the question of how the program can be expanded at ISB for next year. “Well, I’m not quite sure I would definitely say we’re going to expand [the program],” reveals HS Librarian Mr. Anichowski, “just that we’re definitely going to continue it.” Naturally, one of the most difficult problems ISB will face for next year’s festival involvement would be the inevitable compromise of class time for visiting authors. After-school sessions would be one solution to the problem, as well as simply having more opportunities to meet with special guests. For example, “coordinating with The Bookworm [and] not just for the festival,” as Ms. Pratt suggests. “There are authors who come in and out of Beijing all the time, and we could have them coming into the school.” Without a doubt, BILF is an important community event in Beijing and is deserving of its appreciation from international schools. Academic enrichment aside, the features are thought-provoking, original, and plain entertaining. Just like any good book.

Artwork Courtesy of

Rosalind Chang

Talent... or Show? by Cindy Liu, Staff Reporter “So You Think You Got Talent.” The slogan of this year’s annual Talent Show not only attracted hundreds of audience members but also a variety of student auditions. While some successfully made the cut, others were not so fortunate in presenting their talents to the community. Some may have lacked preparation for the auditions, while other “talents” simply did not appeal to the selection committee. Even so, many question whether the selected acts really do have talent or are just there to provide entertainment for the audience.

Edward Huh (10), a member of STUCO, the committee that organizes the annual event and plays a role in the selection of performers, states, “During the selection process, we obviously focus more on talent; after all, it is the Talent Show.” He personally believes there should be a “balance” between talent and entertainment, and that “entertainment can come from having a lot of talent, but definitely not the other way around.” Likewise, Da Eun Jeong (11) states, “Many acts audition because they are entertaining, [although some audition solely on the basis of being] talented, [and] they don’t make it.” “Talent” can be hard to define. What

Arts & Culture

might be appealing to one audience member may not be another’s cup of tea, and there is a fine line between a talented act and a dull one.Yiwen Hu (10) considers entertainment to be more important, especially at an event like the ISB Talent Show: “An act with true talent may keep the audience interested for a short time, but an act that is entertaining can keep them engaged for the entire performance.” A typical comparison might be an act featuring a talented musician playing classical music versus a talented singer who interacts with the audience. Although content and skill play an important role, many will agree that the singer would have greater appeal to the majority of ISB viewers. Distinguishing between the role of entertainment and talent in an act may depend on an individual’s approach to the Talent Show. Jeong wishes to find out about student’s “hidden talents” through the Talent Show (not Talent Show), while Hu stresses the importance of having a “fun evening of show and entertainment with friends.” Talent and entertainment are often observed side by side in mainstream media, but when it comes down to events like the Talent

The top three finalists of the talent show. Show that are used to showcase the abilities of ISB students, it seems that there are varying opinions on the value of entertainment and talent. The debate over which is superior can, unfortunately, lead to disparagement of the other. Perhaps, then, the most important conclusion is that “talent” can come in a wide range of forms and appeal to different people, and that it is crucial to view events like the Talent Show with an open mind. Who says that the ability to entertain others isn’t a talent in itself? Photo Courtesy of

Chan Ah Jung

Sententiae: Latin Name, Artistic Fame by JJ Wong, Staff Reporter

“The purpose of this creative arts magazine is to showcase ISB high school students’ thoughts through writing and art.” Posted on the inside cover of every Sententiae issue, this statement of intent conveys compactly the raison d’etre of Sententiae, an ISB high school creative arts magazine that produces an issue the fall and spring of each school year. Once Sententiae season comes around, multitudes of high school students clamor to get their hands on the latest incarnation, packed with artistic vitality and printed in multi-coloured splendor. One of the most endearing qualities of Sententiae is the independent nature of the magazine. As frequent Sententiae reader Brandon Guo (11) notes, “Sententiae is great because it’s one of the real student ‘run’ organizations.” In other

Give us your attentiae.


words, “though Ms. Boyce supervises, the magazine’s run by students, for students.” Moreover, the magazine is an “excellent opportunity for students to write something they are interested in, outside of English class,” states Isabel Perrin (11).

Another notable aspect of Sententiae is the fact that the publication remains largely uncensored. Themes and topics, which might normally be deemed inappropriate for circulation within an academic institution like ISB, seem to be allowed a certain degree of autonomy within Sententiae. According to Abhinav Chhabra (11), a member of the Sententiae publication team, “The Sententiae team sends each issue to Mr. Fagg to be approved, and he often approves quite readily. Sententiae is good because it represents independence within a school, due to its [more liberal] content matter.” When asked about the inner workings of Sententiae, Chhabra replies, “The process is quite simple. Everybody in Sententiae independently reads each submitted piece, rates it on a number scale, and the highest-rated pieces are then discussed and voted on for its potential inclusion in the next issue.” In addition, Chhabra mentions that “though each issue has a ‘theme,’ the themes are just an artistic chal-

lenge and do not affect whether a piece will be chosen to be published or not.” Criticism and suggestions for improvement directed towards the publication include those concerning Sententiae’s per-issue themes. Partel Unga (11) states that “the themes seem kind of random at times” and that “there should be a vote open to the public to decide the themes.” Regarding Sententiae’s submission process, Ayaka Habu (10) adds that “Sententiae should perhaps advertise upcoming issues earlier, since sometimes there’s not much time to get a piece finished for submission.” A more extreme view of the publication is held by Enrico Baculinao (11), who argues that, whilst it’s nice that ISB has a creative arts magazine, Sententiae “is pretentious. It’s only there for artsy people to show off and to feel better about themselves.” No matter what opinion one holds on Sententiae, the magazine seems slated to remain a mainstay in ISB’s high school creative arts culture. So spread the word, discover the hidden art maestro in you, and submit to Sententiae the next time a new issue is in production! Photo Courtesy of

HeRa Kang

An Interview

Standing Columns

with Emma Donoghue

by Emma Monaghan, Staff Reporter

This month, The Break was lucky enough to interview internationally acclaimed writer Ms. Emma Donoghue, one of many international authors visiting Beijing this month for The Bookworm’s Literary Festival. Her most recent novel, Room, is written from the perspective of a five-year old boy, Jack, who lives with his mother in a shed. Jack’s entire world is confined to the shed, and everything he knows comes from what his mother teaches him and what he sees on television. When Jack and his mother are finally freed, they have to learn to deal with their exposure to the real world. The Break questioned Ms. Donoghue on her book as well as her personal viewpoints on other subjects. The Break: How old were you when you discovered your talents as a writer? Emma Donoghue: I began writing poetry at 7; it didn’t feel so much like discovering a talent as discovering a great pleasure. TB: How important do you feel reading is for young people in particular? Donoghue: Absolutely crucial for expanding their minds and their sense of the wide world. I only wish more adults would keep up the habit! TB: Do you think your upbringing in Ireland contributed to your appreciation of literature and desire to write? Do you think you still would have been a writer if you had been born in, for example, France? Donoghue: Yes, but I would have been a different kind of writer - a more philosophically profound one, perhaps, rather than one whose characters constantly chat-

ter and mock each other in the Irish way! TB: How influential were your parents on your decision to start writing? Donoghue: They did not push me towards it but they were deeply welcoming to my efforts in that line. TB: Room’s concept is very imaginative and intriguing, while being a bit disturbing. How did you come up with the plot, and was the process different from other books you’ve written? Donoghue: It was much easier, oddly. The whole premise and story and perspective of Room came to me in one go. I’ve never felt so certain about writing a book. TB: Why did you decide to narrate Room from Jack’s perspective? How did you draw inspiration for his “voice?”

Cover of Donoghue’s novel.

Donoghue: The child’s perspective was the whole idea of the book; I would never have written such a story any other way. I drew a lot on my own son who was five years old while I was drafting the novel.

to them, no matter how limited it was.

TB: The experiences of Jack in Room are comparable to those of the Chinese immigrants, in that they have been kept ignorant of some parts of life and then suddenly “freed” and exposed to another reality. How do you feel personally about the two worlds that censorship creates: would you prefer to live in simpler world where the things that exist can be picked or chosen, or do you feel it is better to live in a world full of variety and “truth?”

Donoghue: I am very aware that some people avoid some of my books because of their lesbian themes. I’ve never let this influence me.

Donoghue: What a fascinating parallel! I would always vote for the wider world, but Room is about recognizing how much we lose, and suffer, and struggle, along the road to a truly adult life. Many readers find themselves wishing Jack - and they - were back in [the room], and then they are appalled to find themselves thinking so nostalgically about what is, after all, a prison... I suppose everyone’s childhood is precious in some way

TB: What are looking forward to most during your visit to Beijing?

TB: Have you ever faced censorship or felt you had to change aspects of your works to comply with some external expectation?

TB: What are the benefits of literary festivals for a city like Beijing? Why are they important? Donoghue: I think they are important for any city, because there is nothing more stimulating to any city’s culture than an encounter with outsiders.

Donoghue: I know this is not an original answer, but... I have a hike booked on the Great Wall and I’m deeply excited about that. TB: What advice would you have for high school students who want to become writers in the future? Are there any misconceptions about the career that you’d like to dispel? Donoghue: Writing is not a reliable way to make money, but it is a profoundly satisfying activity. Photos Courtesy of

Plenty of room for talent like Donoghue!


Standing Columns

NEIGHBORHOOD REVIEW: by Maura Dentino, Staff Reporter

The Beijing Zoo & Aquarium

The average ISB student has been to many of the tourist hot-spots around Beijing. However, among the many great sites to see, one might overlook two stops on the west side: the Beijing Zoo and Aquarium. While the trip to the zoo might be a horrendously long one by car, it is conveniently situated just outside of the Dong WuYuan subway stop – all one has to do is get in line for the agreeably cheap 10 kuai ticket is walk through a smelly underpass.

Perhaps in the warmer months the zoo is a much more pleasant place, but during the winter, the Beijing zoo is quite pitiful. Upon entering, one must endure a bevy of twists and turns and many unwelcoming food stands before any caged animals come into view. The bareness of the area makes one doubt whether this even qualifies as a zoo. “It barely has any animals,” comments Kathy Summers (10). “And they expect us to mate...” The few crea-

tures that the zoo does possess, however, are interesting ones, like the portly and adorable raccoon dog and the beautiful white tiger. However, upon noticing the bits of trash that have been thrown into the cages, there comes an overwhelming feeling of sorrow. Maybe it is simply too cold for some of the animals to be on display and, apparently, for workers to pick up the trash strewn about the enclosures.

After the disappointment of the zoo’s apparent the lack of animals, make a beeline for the aquarium, a shockingly white building located at the back of the zoo, and purchase a ticket. Beware – the advertised price for tickets for students under eighteen is 55 kuai, but they will charge the full price of 110 kuai if you are over 5’3”.

Under the PRSea.

pletely out of reach. This is followed by a huge, mystical-looking tank occupied by two rare beluga whales, a section completely dedicated to sturgeons, and various other fish tanks filled with many familiar friends from the under the sea where one can scuba dive for a nominal fee.

The biggest letdown is probably the absence of sharks at the aquarium, despite Despite the ludicrous ticket price, the various plastic shark statues that hang the Beijing aquarium is a wondrous from the ceiling. Towards the exit lies an place. Patrons are greeted at the entrance arena for daily dolphin performances, with a giant painted mural of various sea as well as the inevitable, obscenely large animals, dinosaurs and men in track ap- and over-priced gift shop and food court. parel. Visitors are then funneled into a There may be some hope for the “rainforest” section filled with various fish ranging from the tiniest guppies to Beijing zoo, but, until it finally starts to the giant catfish of the Mekong River. warm up again, the only reason to go to the zoo is to get into the aquarium. Visitors are then guided into a secPhoto Courtesy of tion that allows people to actually touch the fish, though they are placed com-

HOW TO: Student-Teacher Interactions

by Maura Dentino & Nicole Zhu, Staff Reporters How should one react in such a situation? outside of class. Over time, you can slow-

All teachers have lives outside of school, so there is a possibility that someday you just might unexpectedly encounter one of them. How would you respond if you were to come across a teacher beyond school grounds: fight or flight?

The first order of business: do not flee! Dare to look them in the eye, and perhaps even mumble an inaudible greeting of some sort. A simple “How are you today?” will suffice. Teachers are people like you and me who crave human interaction and simply want to be loved.

ly begin integrating personal facts into your exchanges, and hopefully, they will reciprocate by opening up themselves.

When enough time has elapsed, it’s time to break out the big guns (no, not your biceps). After peeling away the layers The sight of a teacher approaching of your teacher’s personality, bestow a gift outside of a school environment may strike upon them before the holidays that shows multiple chords in your heart: fear, anticiHow does getting to know teachers that you have been paying more attention pation, curiosity, excitement, or bewilder- benefit students, you ask? First of all, it will during your chats than when you do in class. ment. “One time I saw a teacher outside of make teachers like you. And when they like school. I think I just about peed my pants,” you, they can write you genuine letters of If you feel comfortable enough with confesses Madi Hockaday (11). In the mere recommendation and thus get you into your teacher, consider grabbing a cofseconds you have before you come face to college, or at least a job at McDonalds. Be- fee or a delectable pastry together. Nothface with them, you must make a choice. ing liked by your teachers will also pay off ing screams sophistication like the phrase, when it comes time for report “I have to meet someone for coffee.” cards or officer applications for BEIMUN. You want teachers to In your senior year, sacrifice a portion recognize your face and name; of that precious senior page to personally otherwise, you will just blend in thank your teachers. After graduating, you with ISB’s giant sea of students. can finally add them on Facebook. Keep up your relationship throughout university and After you have finally made beyond; some relationships can last a lifecontact, it is time to start lay- time! Remember, teachers are not creatures ing the groundwork. Start squatting in the depths of ISB, but are people out small, casual yet profes- with hearts, capable of being your friends. sional conversations regarding the latest quiz or lecture. Photo Courtesy of Dare to be bold! If you find that class time isn’t enough, schedule a time to meet them BFFs.


Standing Columns

Adventure Is Out There!

How to Explore Beijing via Subway for Less Than 50RMB by Nicole Zhu, Staff Reporter

Now that spring break is over and we are well into the three-month stretch from now until summer break, the pitiful two-day excuse known as our weekend comprises mainly of homework, sleep, and more sleep. Though work may be piling up and sports practices may be exhausting, the (very) rare days of Beijing spring are slipping by. What better way to enjoy an excursion than using the newly built subway line in Shunyi to explore Beijing on the cheap?

For the Intellectual/Cupcake Enthusiast: Board the subway at the China Exhibition Center station (across from Europlaza), enjoying the heated seats of Line 15 before transferring at Wangjing West to Line 13, taking it to Dongzhimen. 2 RMB.

Take a cab to The Village in Sanlitun. 10 RMB. Walk to The Bookworm while dodging crazy Beijing traffic. The Bookworm, an unmistakably pea-green building located next to Banana Leaf, is a book lover’s paradise, complete with cozy corners and romantic lighting. Browse books and stationery to your heart’s content. Aspiring writers can take advantage of the café‘s free Wi-Fi to type up their latest novel, screenplay, English commentary – or perhaps an article for The Break.

Stroll back across the street, taking care to avoid homicidal taxi drivers, toTheVillage. Keep walking in the direction of the Village North to Crepanini at Nali Patio. An Earl Grey cupcake (with a mouthwatering combination of bergamot and lemon frosting provided by the Lollipop Bakery) is highly recommended. 20 RMB. Trek up to the Village North to windowshop at Bvlgari and Versace while pondering the meaning of the store named “A Bathing Ape.” When you’re ready to return, take a cab

back to the Dongzhimen station (10 RMB) and hop back on Line 13 to the last station of Wangjing West.Transfer to the warmth of Line 15 heading home to the Exhibition Center station. 2 RMB. TOTAL SPENT: 44 RMB.

For the Sightseer/Political Activist: Board the subway at the China Exhibition Center station before transferring at Wangjing West to Line 13, taking it to Dongzhimen. From Dongzhimen, take Line 2 to Jianguomen station. Switch to Line 1 and take it to Wangfujing station. 2 RMB. Wander down Changan Avenue to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, being sure to take cheesy photos (double peace signs mandatory). Warning: in the square, avoid loud references to Tibet, June 4th, or jasmine, unless you’d like to make the acquaintance of burly plainclothes policemen.

While there, buy a pair of lightup devil horns; costs may vary depending upon bargaining abilities. 10-15 RMB. If you’d prefer something more culturally relevant, fuzzy Communist hats are also available, though they may require you to dig a tad deeper into your pockets. Window-shopping at Oriental Plaza, where you can find one of the few Dairy Queens in Beijing, is optional. To head home, take Line 1 back to Jianguomen, switch to Line 2 until Dongzhimen, switch to Line 13 until Wangjing West, and then back to the Exhibition Center on Line 15. 2 RMB.

For the Animal Lover/Culinary Daredevil: For those willing to trek out to the desolate west side of Beijing, take the subway to Dongzhimen and transfer to Line 2. Ride until Xizhimen, and then transfer to Line 4 to the Beijing Zoo stop. 2 RMB. Take the underpass to the other side of the street and wrestle your way to the front of the ticket line. 10 RMB during the off-season. Wander around the Beijing Zoo for a while, though many animals may be hidden from view, given the temperature. Alas, no bathing apes are to be found. However, the raccoon dog (yes, it really is called a raccoon dog) is one of the few creatures still out and about and is positively adorable.

Other attractions include the reptile house, a lone tiger in a pit, and China’s unofficial national animal: the giant panda. Beware of exotic birds roaming freely on the frozen lake and local children not using the sanitation facilities to their full potential. Walk back to the subway station, stopping for a sausage on the side of the road – if you dare. A sketchy street vendor will happily skewer a questionably pink sausage from a pan of sizzling oil for you. Yum. 2-4 RMB. Take the same route home to the Exhibition Center. 2 RMB. TOTAL SPENT: 16-18 RMB Photos

Courtesy of Beijing Zoo. Digital image. Best Place To Visit Around The World., 16 July 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <http://4.>.

Chang An Avenue. Digital image. Stnn. cc. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <http://>. China International Exhibition Center Sub way Station. Digital image. Panoramio. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <http://>.


Oriental Plaza. Digital image. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <>. The

Bookworm Beijing. Digital image. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <http://www.meiguoxing. com/images/Oriental_Plaza2.jpg>.



Simply Piano: Concert or Competition? mance. However, competitions and per-

by Rebecca Qian, Staff Reporter

Flurries of fast notes, crammed practice rooms, an overflowing sign-up sheet surrounded by fretting students clenching sheets of music – the scene of the “Simply Piano” concert auditions were far from “simple.” A traditional concert that has been held in ISB for over ten years, the annual Simply Piano concert has become, as music teacher Ms. Schapel put it, “the highlight of the year.” Although I was moved by all performers who evoked passion at the final recital, the singular performances that stood out were the ones that had me marveling at the expertise and high level of technical skill. This led me to question whether rote “skill” in the form of technical correctness was perhaps more important than “musicality,” or artistic expressiveness, in terms of creating an impact on the audience. As the date for auditions rolled by a few weeks ago, I decided to go and see what the hype was all about. There was no doubt that a wealth of talent was present in the auditions. I recall watching a girl perform a fully memorized sonata movement with great control of dynamics and rhythm. This exact movement had also been played by two other musicians slightly earlier in the auditions. Understandably, the auditions seemed to gravitate toward being a competition rather than a perfor-

formances are not mutually exclusive; a well-executed piece can be part of both. The main issue lay in how many performers stumbled as they were hurrying through string after string of fast notes. It was as though contenders were competing to impress by showcasing the speed of their fingers, but overlooked the “musical aspect,” which is arguably equally, if not more important. “It’s not a competition,” explains Ms. Schapel, despite the fact that only 20 auditions were successful from a total of 41. “It’s the process that’s important.” I absolutely agree. Perhaps if students focus more on the process of performing rather than outcome of the auditions, they will bring out artistry instead of a bland overload of trills and tricks. After all, shouldn’t performing be about sharing music? That’s not to say all performers should trade their Mozart masterpieces for playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with emotion. The fact is that performers – good performers – should look to perform with both skill and artistry. This is why the concert, with the pieces ranging in style from Baroque to contemporary, had performances that satisfied both “technique” and “musicianship.” “For [quality of performance] you have to perform with skill,” Ms. Schapel states.

They’ll be bach next year.

However, these all serve to help the performer articulate ideas, to help the performance communicate a message. The skill level should only be as high as the message requires. For example, the message behind “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is simple, and that’s why it doesn’t require much skill to convey that a girl named Mary owned a lamb. As the intricacy of the message increases, the corresponding amount of skill required grows too, making the piece more challenging to the performer. Therefore, the difficulty of a piece is not measured by its technical challenges, but the message it intends to convey. The impact on the audience is not caused by fast notes spinning their heads around, but the mood these fast notes create that communicate a story in the performance. I still believe that for a performer, music is more important than technical skill. At the end of the day, music is what we want to create, and skills are merely the tools we use in creating music.

Grading the “Tiger Mom”

Photo Courtesy of

Kathy Summers

by Julie Leong, Managing Editor

Four months ago, my mother emailed me an article in the Wall Street Journal: provocatively titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” it was an excerpt from Yale Law professor Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In the piece, Chua described her parenting strategy to raise “stereotypically successful kids”: ban them from having playdates or sleepovers, watching TV, playing video games, choosing their own extracurricular activities, playing any instrument other than the piano and violin, and – horrors – receiving any grade below an A. One anecdote detailed her attempts to motivate her seven-year-old daughter to master a difficult piano piece by calling her “lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent, and pathetic.” “See?” My mother said to me. “You had it easy. I only ever called you lazy.” Chua’s piece, unsurprisingly, drew shock and outrage from many corners (with the words “crazy”, “abusive”, and “scary” showing up frequently on the article’s comment board) – including the Western parents whom Chua disdainfully accuse of “being perfectly content to let their children turn out badly.” However, though her tone may tend toward the extreme (“deadpan,” says she), it does lay bare some starkly intriguing opinions. Part of Chua’s rationale for her aggressive parenting is that “nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” As someone who thoroughly enjoyed her own brief, failed attempts at skateboarding, fencing, and uni-cycling, I can attest to the absolute


SPOT THE DIFFERENCE:The journalist (left) and Chua’s daughter, Sophia (right), at Carnegie Hall, 2007.

absurdity of this statement. For Chua to suggest that children need external validation of their skill (in the form of medals and trophies) in everything they do only discourages them from taking on new challenges and expanding their interests beyond those which have been drilled into them through brute force. A child’s worth should not be tied to the “praise” and “admiration” of others, nor should a mother’s treatment of that child. Another troubling aspect of Chua’s excerpt is the excessive control that she seems to take over her daughters’ lives. Her micromanaging is more steely domination than discipline; preventing children from making their own choices (and learning from the consequences, good or bad) hardly seems like the path to rearing a confident, independent, successful adult - and after all, Ms. Chua, isn’t success all that matters? Still, despite a flawed argument, flinch-inducing examples, and a distasteful condescension for those who don’t

subscribe to her philosophy, Chua touches on at least one meaningful truth: parents should always believe that their children are capable of more than mediocrity. A child raised with high expectations learns to both set those expectations himself and meet them, attaining an individual drive to excel that doesn’t require the pushing of a parent. I think that Ms. Chua is partly right, in that determination and willpower are necessary for success. However, that resolve must come from within and cannot be imposed by shrill demands for constant perfection. Selfreliance and strength of mind cannot be taught through any amount of piano drills, any quantity of math exercises, or any number of shouted insults and threats. Perhaps, Ms. Chua, what we truly need are more Tiger Daughters and Sons - not Mothers.

Chua, Amy. Jan 8 2011. “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”. The Wall Street Journal; Life & Culture. SB100014240html#articleTabs%3Darticle

The Break Volume 6 Issue 6  

Latest issue of ISB's high school newspaper - The Break.

The Break Volume 6 Issue 6  

Latest issue of ISB's high school newspaper - The Break.