The Panthers of ISKL is a platform to showcase inspirational, real-life stories of ISKL community members. The diverse variety of these select students, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff reflect the rich tapestry of what enables ISKL to be proudly acknowledged as an inclusive and empowering educational environment. Each individual is invited to share their passions in order to illustrate the full meaning of ISKL’s vision and how it translates directly to their personal endeavors. With ISKL’s focus on developing a practical, social, and emotional skill mindset amongst all its students, enabling them to reach beyond the parameters of academic success, these individuals conceptualize their unique role in an ever-evolving and complex world.
The fifth in our series of Panthers of ISKL focuses on service learning. It incorporates personal documentaries of how the charitable endeavors of individuals benefit the ISKL community and beyond.
“I believe that as my go-to comfort food is Roti Canai, I can be defined as ‘Malaysian’!”
Hailing from Canada and Australia, Asha has lived her whole life in Malaysia, starting ISKL in Prep Junior at four years of age and soon to be graduating as one of the few ISKL lifers. Being considered a foreigner in her home countries of Canada and Australia, Asha identifies herself as a third culture kid. Whilst it has been a challenge that made her feel insecure in her own identity, she now believes that being raised within a mixed cultural environment has afforded her an open-minded, accepting, and embracing approach to life. One that has helped mold her as an individual.
One of Asha’s greatest passions is embarking upon environmental, charitable, and mentoring projects that support her community and peers. As well as being President of the ISKL Earth Club, Asha also serves as a member of the HS Service Council and HS Shark Tank Assembly. Her charitable enterprises include an Eco-Market, the Faisal Cup, as well as organizing a virtual food drive campaign for Chin Refugees during MCO (Movement Control Order). Due to the urgency of support required, this was launched within 24 hours, and the swift traction reinforced the positive impact a united community can have on the lives of others. Asha tells us that when approaching this particular initiative, “the finer details were not over-thought as the importance of receiving donations was the priority.” However, as most projects do not require this sense of urgency, Asha advises “that if passion and motivation are the driving force, then time and effort will come easily”.
‘Girls Excelling in Math and Sciences’ (GEMs) is an after school program established by Asha and her close friend, Ann G. with the support of Ms. Anya Keithley (MS Teacher). It is aimed at supporting fellow female students to feel confident in these subjects by teaching scientific concepts, participating in fun experiments, problem-solving, and learning more about women in science. Asha hopes that this approach will support her focus on combining her love of science with helping others in order to embark upon a career in medicine or public health. Her level-headed consideration of her future is however filled with balance and humor when she says “before I follow my hopes and dreams, I would like to survive the IB!”.
Given the hypothetical option of utilizing either a position of wealth or power to help society leads Asha to explain that “the environmental side of me says that I should utilize wealth to fund innovation and research to support ethical and effective ways to repurpose the human creation of plastic and carbon emission waste. However, both wealth and power could ensure that everyone has equal access to quality education, food and water, health, and medical support. All of these elements eliminate barriers which, in turn, give the global population more chances to survive on a level playing field”. Asha’s personal interest in the difference the medical profession can have on a human life stemmed from a period of personal complex pain. She subsequently collaborated with her team of doctors from BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, on a series of videos aimed at children who were also experiencing similar complex pain. These were showcased at the International Symposium for Pediatric Pain in Malaysia.
As ISKL has supported Asha’s entire education, we asked her what our mission and vision meant to her. She tells us that “to embrace all of your passions and recognise that the smallest quirks make you ‘you’. It can be easy to try to change ourselves to fit the idea of who we think we should be, but ultimately it is simply about being yourself for who you are. “
ISKL students and close friends, Aditi S., Ira S., and Sana M. represent and support ‘Color Away Covid’ (CAC) in Malaysia as Brand Ambassadors. Founded in 2020, CAC is a Hong Kong-based student-led initiative. It aims to provide support, education, and equipment to low-income families as well as underprivileged children who have been, and continue to be, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The girls discovered the CAC Program on social media during the pandemic lockdown. It immediately appealed to them due to its ability to create personal connections that foster a culture of empathy and respect. With it focusing on raising awareness and funds for two reputable charities dedicated to their vision, it was an opportunity to participate in something meaningful. Yayasan Chow Kit provides meals, activities, therapy, educational programs, and case management for ‘at risk children’. Dignity for Children provides care and education to urban and underprivileged children in Kuala Lumpur. Since assuming their roles, the girls have organized an on campus fundraising campaign with a twist; those who contributed were able to write a personalized letter to the recipient families titled Dear Malaysia with the opportunity for them to reply.
The girls could see firsthand the direct connection between personal communication and the strengthening of community morale. They told us that what they liked most about the Dear Malaysia campaign is its transparency in seeing exactly where funds are utilized and who benefits.
The girls believe that social media is a great way to discover what is going on in your local area to support advocacy for charitable causes. These platforms are a voice that brings awareness to issues that may otherwise go unheard. They advise that by reaching out and connecting with like-minded individuals that share similar virtues is an effective first step in getting involved. It shows that making a difference can snowball from even the smallest gesture, and they hope that their story will inspire others to get involved.
All three girls agree that their biggest inspiration comes from the support of the community surrounding them; their family, friends, ISKL comrades, and teachers who give them the vision to achieve through constant motivation and encouragement. Ira tells us that “ISKL truly accepts and applauds individuality, whilst giving independence without pressure.” They are united in saying that they understand ISKL’s vision and mission statement to be based on having been guided throughout their education at ISKL by positive values, lessons, and memories whilst achieving future goals.
Seungyoon H. (‘22), who despite his youth has extensive experience living in a variety of countries including South Korea, Romania, India, New Zealand and Malaysia. He believes that these cultures have shaped his view of society in general whilst molding him into the person he is today. Gaining an insight into each country’s economic policies, cultural differences but also the obvious social inequalities and wealth gaps that exist have encouraged him to give back to the less fortunate communities through charitable enterprises. He tells us, “I am inspired to contribute to those around me to the best of my personal resources and ability.”
As a part of his High School Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) Project, supporting the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), Seungyoon co-ordinated a food donation drive within Malaysia. It was his witnessing the #kitajagakita initiatives during Covid-19 and the raising of white flags, a symbol of surrendering to poverty, that urged him to take action. This further led to discussions with Ms. Chika Kumashiro-Wilms, the CAS Coordinator/High School Service & Sustainability Coordinator, and directly contacting The Giving Bank. This Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) was collecting provisions of food for the poor and needy, which enabled Seungyoon to collect supplies to pass on to Mr. Arnaud Marolleau, Head of The Giving Bank. “The timescale from first contacting The Giving Bank through to actually gathering food donations took between 10-14 days which shows how quickly it is to act and make a difference. It was satisfying and personally rewarding to receive the amount of food donations that would be gratefully delivered to those in need,” Seungyoon tells us.
Seunghoon believes that the ISKL CAS Project Club offered in High School, enlightened him to realize that it is not hard to set up, take action, and get involved in community service. He felt it gave him the confidence to understand that personal time and small sacrifices are no effort in the support of others less fortunate. With this in mind, Seunghoon collaborated with and gained the help, support, and knowledge of Mr. Mark van Cott (High School Young Investors’ Society (YIS) Supervisor) and other CAS Supervisors to reach out to Middle School students to feel prepared in accessing the club before they reach High School.
For a student such as Seunghoon, there are countless opportunities within the co-curricular activity timetable to participate and gain experience in areas of personal interest. With his future focus on economics, Seunghoon enrolled in the Philosophy and Economics (PPE) Club that supports his post-graduation goal of studying economics and applied mathematics as a double major. He balances this with his love of swimming, and playing golf both outside of school but also as a member of the IASAS Golf Team.
When asked what ISKL’s vision and mission statement means to him, Seunghoon told us, “I believe in potential and feel that many people, due to personal drawbacks, setbacks and circumstances, may not reach their maximum. In essence, ISKL encourages a sense of personal discovery through their education so that students are able to achieve their full potential. With confidence in what you can achieve, there is the ability to give back and support community projects”.
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 submitting your suggestion here.