Panthers of ISKL #113: Haruka S. & Katryna K.

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POISKL Haruka S. & Katryna K.

The Ilham Gallery Student Art Committee Members

Japanese born, Haruka, is a student that has grown from her experience of living in Malaysia as well as having attended two International Schools.  Her creativity and passion for the arts at ISKL led her to be invited and enroll in the Ilham Gallery Student Art Committee.

Malaysian student Katryna is avidly interested in art and enjoys creating graphite drawings and traditional paintings. She joined the Ilham Gallery Student Art Committee to gain exposure to art professions, learn about how galleries curate, and meet with local artists.

Here are their stories:

POISKL-Blog-Haruka-S.-Katryna-K.Can you tell us more about yourself?

Haruka: I was born in Japan but have lived in Malaysia for 15 years, traveling regularly between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur since I was 1 years old.

Katryna: I am from Malaysia, but I was born in Singapore. When I turned two, my family moved back to Kuala Lumpur, where I have lived for the past 14 years. 

When did you join ISKL and what subjects do you enjoy most?

Haruka: I joined ISKL at the end of Grade 9 and am drawn to following a path in the subjects of Arts and Psychology.

Katryna: I came to Malaysia in 2008 and joined ISKL in Prep Reception. For that reason, I have been at ISKL for 13 years, making it my first and only school.

What are your extracurricular hobbies and interests?

Haruka: I have many interests including playing the violin, dance, film-making and design.  I have participated in IASAS Dance since Sophomore year and support the ISKL Key Club as Co-President.  I believe it is a beautiful thing to fuse all aspects of my interests that result in telling stories other than my own.

Katryna: My interest is mainly in art since it has always been a part of my life. I mainly focus on traditional painting and graphite drawings. Other interests outside the art field are coding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and basketball.

What are your future hopes and dreams as well as thoughts on your career pathway?

Haruka: As a Senior, I do not, as yet, have a clear idea of my career pathway.  However, it is important to me to focus on a future that nurtures my creative passions as well as supporting my interest in the field of Psychology.  I trust that my uncertainties of what to study at University become clearer and encourage me to strive for what will make me continue to succeed and be happy.

Katryna: After I graduate from ISKL, I dream of studying architecture in the UK.

My career pathway was not an expected decision from myself or my family. In the past, I always thought I would pursue a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, but I was forcing myself to stay interested in that. Pursuing a career in the art and design field, like architecture, will keep me motivated to work to my highest potential. Although I felt unsure about my career pathway, mainly because my family believes it won’t earn me much money in the future, pursuing a career that interests me will allow me to succeed financially or emotionally.

POISKL-Haruka-S.Who or what inspires and influences you?

Haruka: I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be raised in a culturally diverse and rich environment.  This inspired me to film a short documentary for my Pursuits Project based around ‘third culture kids’ in Malaysia.  I feel that having attended two different international schools in Malaysia my opinions on current global issues have been heightened. 

Katryna: My sister is one person who inspires me the most and has the most influence on who I am now. When I was younger, I always saw her as someone I needed to compete in everything, like academics, appearances, and sports. However, now I look up to her for advice in school, relationships, and family. We drifted from having similar interests and goals but what connects us, other than being blood-related, is our perseverance and approach to challenges. If I didn’t have her, I would not have achieved the things I have now. She always pushes me to confront the issues I am too scared to address. I know she hopes I do my best in High School until I graduate, and I hope she achieves the best in her field of study.

What is your most memorable moment at ISKL?

Haruka: The most memorable moment that I cherish is the close bonds formed playing music with the ISKL Strings community.  Although we only meet for a few hours within a school week, playing alongside dedicated and talented artists constantly uplifts and moves me.

Katryna: One of my most memorable moments at ISKL was in the 8th grade when I traveled to Penang for a basketball tournament. It was my first time traveling outside KL for a sports event where we had a two-day game against four schools.

What made this trip memorable was the games we played and the bonds the team formed. During the last night there, we had dinner across from our hotel. At the restaurant, we combined three tables where the whole team sat around to eat.

How did you feel when you were invited to be a part of the Ilham Gallery Student Art committee?

Haruka: I was excited at the idea to participate in a larger part of the Malaysian Arts Community with the opportunity to work alongside a foundation that appeals to a diverse audience through showcasing art.

Katryna: When I received the news about being part of the Ilham Gallery student art committee, I was first in disbelief but also felt accomplished. Before applying, I had less hope of getting in since it was a program open to all high school students in Kuala Lumpur. However, I feel very grateful for this opportunity.

What motivated you to apply to be on the Ilham Gallery Student Art Committee?

Haruka: I was aware of the Ilham Gallery before I discovered the opportunity of applying to join the Student Art Committee. Their promotion of culture and education inspired me through the art form in Malaysia. During the Covid-19 quarantine, I attended an online summer camp that focused on how limitless art can be used to advocate for and confront social justice. I was keen to continue and encounter these insightful discussions with like-minded individuals that united and connected participants internationally.

Katryna: I applied to get more exposure to professions in the art field, specifically to see how galleries curate various artworks and what type of work is done in the gallery. This opportunity helped me explore how many local artists expressed their emotions or opinions through abstract art forms like installations, virtual reality, and machines.

What do you wish to contribute as a Committee member?

Haruka: Through the Ilham Gallery’s Artists Talk campaign, I have already met, researched and interviewed many Malaysian artists as well as created a series of Instagram reels to support their latest art show.  I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute this as a committee member.

What does the ISKL vision: know yourself, care for all, and create a better world mean to you?

Haruka: To me it means reflecting on the ins and outs of your character with the ability to envision a future that stretches beyond time, positively mirroring and recreating the ‘know yourself, care for all and create a better world’ within the communities surrounding you.  I believe that a sense of empathy and caring for others, regardless of your personal circumstances, can be the most powerful gift of selflessness.

Katryna: “Know yourself, care for all and create a better world” to me means to explore your identity.


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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