“It’s so important to make the world a better place. There are some big problems in the world, and we all have a responsibility to help fix them. To do so, we need to understand who we are, our roles, and how we can use our passions and interests to improve the world.”
Having lived in Malaysia for most of her life, Korean-American student Aubrey S. (‘26) has been in ISKL since 2012. Aubrey S. has gone to great lengths in overcoming personal challenges such as speaking or performing in front of large crowds. After pushing herself to face these fears, she has no hesitation in performing k-pop dancing, speeches, or singing on stage!
Here is Aubrey’s story:
Tell us more about yourself?
I’ve lived in Malaysia most of my life. I was born here and then moved to the US in 2009 when I was about 1 ½ years old. My family moved to New Hampshire in the US, and we lived there for about three years. In 2012, we moved back to Malaysia, and I’ve been here since. In a lot of ways, Malaysia is like my home country.
My dad is from the US, and my mom is from South Korea. We spend our summers in both countries, which is cool. Delaware is our home in the US right now, and it’s always fun to visit over the summer because we get to see family and go to the beach. I also love visiting my halmoni (grandmother) and halaboji (grandfather) in Korea.
In which grade did you join ISKL?
I started ISKL in Prep Junior – we were at the Melawati campus back then. I remember Mrs. Carolyn Curtis was my first teacher, and I loved her class – it was so much fun. My mom would help out a lot at school, and of course, I saw my dad all the time because he is a teacher here.
Can you tell us more about your other hobbies and interests?
I love to dance – especially K-pop! I started dancing in Grade 6 because it looked like a lot of fun and sounded interesting. I started with contemporary dance because I was just getting started and needed to figure out what type of dance I liked. Then I joined a K-pop dance group for an Agency project and was hooked! I loved the music, the dance moves, and performing on stage.
I also like to go fishing and crabbing. We’ve been fishing on some of our vacations here and always catch a lot of fish. We also go fishing and crabbing in the summer, but we need more luck. Still, it’s fun!
What challenges have you overcome, and how did you overcome them?
A challenge I have faced was speaking in front of groups or going on the stage at school. When I was younger, in Elementary School (ES), I wouldn’t say I liked talking in front of many people, doing presentations in class, or performing on stage. Joining the choir in ES, I remember that I had to sing in front of the stage since I was one of the leading singers for the song. I was initially nervous, but when it was over, I realized that it wasn’t so scary, and I started to think I could perform in front of big groups.
When I joined Middle School (MS), I joined the MS play, which helped me speak on stage as I had to say a line. It was only one line, but I was nervous because the audience was much more significant. We performed the show a few times, and I became more confident each time. Band performances also helped me be less uncomfortable because I got used to being nervous and excited about being on stage – I liked the feeling.
I started dancing in groups in 6th grade, which pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I was worried about making mistakes and forgetting the dance moves in front of a big audience. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this passion because, while I was initially nervous, it was so much fun. Doing something I love helped me overcome my fear of performing in front of others, and now I’m more confident.
Describe your most memorable moments at ISKL.
So far, the most memorable moment for me was when I went to Cherating for our Global Action Program (GAP) trip. It was so much fun traveling with my friends, and we got to do a lot of activities that I did not do before.
We learned how to surf, plant mangroves, make tie-dye shirts, clean up the beach, lifeguarding and lifesaving training, and some fun and games like beach volleyball. A lot of these activities were things that pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I’d not been surfing before, and it looked scary at first, but my friends and teachers encouraged and supported me to try it – and I realized it was so much fun.
Trying new things and experiences is important because doing so helps you grow as a person and learn new things about yourself.
Any plans for after you graduate from ISKL – what would you like to do?
I’m still trying to figure that out. I want to go to university, but I’m still deciding where. I’ve always enjoyed helping others, so I want to find a career that allows me to help people, animals, or the environment.
I am still trying to figure out what to become, but I have some ideas. I’ve always wanted to become a vet because I enjoy taking care of animals, but I’m also interested in climate change, government, and history, so I have many options.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I hope to create a world where we don’t waste our natural resources and exploit the environment. I’ve been learning so much about climate change, and this is our moment to stand up and make a difference so we can protect our planet for future generations.
Who or what inspires you or has influenced you?
My parents inspire me the most because they work hard every day and do not complain even when things are tough. They are also very supportive and knowledgeable people that support me when things go wrong.
My mom is so creative and talented; she’s a fantastic artist, and I look at some of her drawings and paintings and am so impressed with her skills. She’s also very crafty and loves to sew and make things around the house. A few years ago, she went back to school to follow one of her passions – baking. She attended Le Cordon Bleu and got a certificate in Boulangerie – bread making. She was at the top of her class, and now, she’s offering baking classes to parents. It’s cool that she can share her love and passion for baking with others. My mom is good at so many things, which shows me that I can do anything I put my mind to as long as I work hard and follow my passions.
What does “Know yourself, care for all and create a better world” mean to you?
This reminds me of The Melawati Way – take care of yourself, take care of others, and take care of this place. It’s so important to make the world a better place. There are some big problems in the world, and we all have a responsibility to help fix them. To do so, we need to understand who we are, our roles, and how we can use our passions and interests to improve the world.
The image we use for ‘Know Yourself, Care for All and Create a Better World’ reminds me of ripples in a pond. We all have the power to take action, and our efforts can spread, help and influence others, hopefully inspiring them to take action and ultimately create positive change on a global scale.
Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always has an anecdote to tell, loves to share some insights into their passions and interests, 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.