Core Value: Intercultural Communication

Having lived in Thailand for 10 years, and not speaking a word of Thai for anypoint of the 10 years, not knowing the local language has been a norm for me. Now living in Japan, this fact still hasn’t changed, yet it has allowed me to appreciate the ideas of different forms of Japanese works without taking it for the normal, as I would if I was younger, and without the ability to understand it when it’s a literary work.

With it being 3 years since I moved to Japan, there have been numerous times where my friends and I have been karaoking. Most of the time to western songs but often songs sung in Japanese too. This ideas of karaoking has taught me two things. The first being that social norms cannot be learnt through pure internet research in a short time, and that to fully understand a society, or even idea, one needs to explore it either in depth or become familiar with it. When I first came to Japan in 2015 I always thought the culture ran on the salarymen that crammed onto the train to work every morning. However, I learnt that an activity like karaoking is ingrained in the Japanese culture too, which took me by shock to begin with.

The second being that entertainment can happen in any language. Prior to moving here permanently I was only exposed to three languages, Thai, Spanish, and English. Not knowing any Thai I never thought twice about what people said to one another as I had no reason to. When friends spoke to each other I would faze out for a bit until they came back to English. The same could be said for Spanish, except that I was able to use it as a tool for communicating, or at least was trying to learn how to. However, after karaoke experiences with my friend group everything has changed. I began to realize that language can be used for entertainment and expression, not just to tell someone something blankly. And I started enjoying entertainment in other languages, like movies and songs, which I went from exclusively English music to a collection with over 10 songs, which I understand only 2.

While it’s easy to say I can communicate between cultures, mainly through hand signals when approached by someone that doesn’t know English here, it’s difficult for someone like me who solely speaks English. The IB has given me a platform for an introduction to another language, Spanish, but more in an academic manner. The special side of language and intercultural communication is that of when one is integrated into a culture and can transfer knowledge between two.

Core Value: Community Engagement

The past year I helped set up, as second in command, an ‘indirect’ service club called ‘Underwater Explorers’ comprised of scuba divers and partook on 3 separate occasions trips to Atami and Osezaki, two prominent dive sites near Yokohama. The purpose of the club is to monitor and record data at these sites to help contribute to a database called ‘Project Baseline’ that then allows for the creation of awareness for the marine life and support to fix the issues caused by multiple problems. Having already been a ‘seasoned’ diver (I had only dived 4 times before, all for my initial license), I had an open water diving license and had not done any recreational diving or serviceable diving. So, while I was kind of worried that I had forgotten skills in the year that I had not dived since getting my license, I knew that once I got in the water the first time I would feel comfortable once again.

Throughout the first year, while trying to find the group’s identity, we went on multiple trips to places like Atami, Osezaki and IOP (Izu Oceanic Park) as well as a trip to Anilao, Philippines. Thinking back on the first set of trips, the local dives, it was really interesting how the data from databases are collected. I’ve always assumed it to be complicated, but after being familiar with the equipment and methods it seems rudimentary and surprises me not more people are focused on collecting data around the world to track the effects of climate change and pollution.

Collecting Data in Osezaki (M. Broughton)

The trip to the Philippines was the trip that really engaged me with the situation in the country and the entire world. Whilst we did learn new skills when it came to diving, which was thoroughly enjoyable, the point of the trip was to recognize the issues the Philippines is facing. The biggest of which is plastic and pollution. Through 4 days we had two dives solely devoted to collecting plastic and other pollution in an area that, according to our boat driver, ‘did not have that much plastic’. Despite that, my partner and I collected over 2kg of plastics in just under 30 minutes. Other groups collected upwards of 4kg. This really shocked me because all my previous dives had been to dive sites that were litter free and really put perspective on what we were trying to do with engaging with the aquatic community to try and show the dire situation.

Anilao Beach a Day After Cleaned (A. Czubak)


After all the trips, it has definitely changed my opinion on the work we do for Project Baseline, but it feels unfortunate that we’re at a point where to fix a problem we have to collect data, which will take years, to be able to show others that this is a problem. So while it has strengthened my opinion on the problem and that what we’re doing will help, it ultimately also weakens it as the trip shows the severity of it and that it can’t be fixed overnight.

Competency: Personal Goal

During Grade 10 I set to work on my personal project in which I explored the history and evolution of video games through creating an exhibit with a retro arcade cocktail table that I made and a custom gaming PC to show how the ideas and practices have changed. Looking back now, this project of creating the arcade from scratch was one of my proudest moments yet during the time it felt like a chore to design it, build it, and program it.

Playing the Final Product (Without The Top Layer On)

Looking back at the Personal Project, I can clearly see what I’ve grown in and things that I’ve learnt for the future. The biggest thing I realized was the importance of organization and planning things in advance of starting working on something. At first, started the project with minimal planning and expected the arcade table to come to fruition along the way. However, this became a problem when I had to collect equipment and get the larger pieces of wood cut down to a workable size. Because of this, I ended up needing to return to the hardware store multiple times for the smallest of things. A few screws one time and black paint another. This not only wasted time, but it also frustrated my parents, who had to drive me there each time.

Midway Progress

Another thing I learnt was how to research and have a deep enough understanding to present it in my exhibition and report. Using websites like JSTOR and other databases was a unique experience for me, as I was not used to reading research papers that these websites provided. I was used to reading the first few websites presented on Google and calling that a day. This opened me up to look in different places for research, one of which was a video game museum located in Helsinki, Finland, which was very different for me as it never occurred to me that research could be information found in physical museums or other places I had to physically travel to.

Video Game Museum in Helsinki

The final idea that I realized was how perspectives of societies can change over time, and not just from culture to culture. Through my research, and playing on my newly created arcade, I realized that the genre of video games that were played and the rituals behind them were completely different to how I was brought up. Just before I was born, the platform genre was the major type of game on the market. Games like Super Mario Bros and Sonic The Hedgehog. Nowadays, major genres include first-person shooter games and open world games. While I was very familiar with these genres, what I learnt was the games of the 80s were more based on achieving the highest score as they had a set number of levels and were completed in a short amount of time. This complemented the social aspect of gaming that was present then, with a group of friends going after school to the local fish and chips shop that had an arcade and competing to see who was the best. Today though, most video games are played by children in their rooms with their doors closed, and while on Skype or other forms of calling application, there is no physically social aspect of gaming anymore.

Grade 10 Personal Project

While I initially created the arcade table with the intention of playing it often, that hasn’t happened. At all. I attribute this to the impracticality of the physical device, and the repetitive nature of all games compared to modern games. Despite this, if I were to do the project again I would touch nothing of the arcade, but improve the way I created it. I would’ve created a better plan, designing it prior to buying everything. Nonetheless, the lack of planning has shown me how important it is which has helped me massively during the past year. An example of this is most of my Spanish essays, where now I understand that planning what I want to express, how I want to express it, and what new words do I want to use to show my knowledge of the topic.


Core Value: Global Understanding

Recently I took part in an international MUN (Model United Nations) conference representing our school in Bangkok, Thailand for the annual IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools) conference. Personally, this was my very first MUN conference overseas and my first full stop. This trip possibly had the steepest learning curve I’ve ever experienced because of this. Unfortunately, this was one of the first times in my life that I came to realize my own ‘fragility’ through bad periods of anxiety throughout the trip, struggling to find the ability to speak as well as my confidence, which is normally one of my strong personality aspects. In addition to this, seeing it was my first conference I did not really know any technical procedures of conferences, how speeches and resolutions were meant to be formatted, and the preparation needed to have your voice heard throughout the three days of debating.

Standing outside the official UN building in Bangkok (Mr Hutton)

A few months after this, I have since grown drastically in both my mental health, the importance of research and preparation, and started an interest in international relations.

The slippery slope of bad anxiety was possibly at it’s worst in Bangkok because of the overwhelming knowledge I lacked which was amplified because of how much I knew that I didn’t know anything I did need to know. However, since then I have managed to learn from the experience, now knowing things that I can do to calm myself down like limit big meals and snack more often, also spending time with friends and getting into the activities like debating and resolution discussions got my mind off of it and helped.

I learnt the importance of research and preparation when two of the girls in my council came with 14 pages of resolutions each, whereas I was not aware that coming with that would help myself and my group. In the end, we combined both resolutions, yet I felt that I hadn’t contributed much nor learnt a lot as I wasn’t extremely involved with the creation of the resolutions or the combination of the two. From here I’ve wanted to take parts in activities, even when I didn’t have the prior knowledge, so that if/when I take part in similar activities in the future I can at least get involved and when I gain enough knowledge lead the team with the combination or create a resolution myself.

Finally, I found an interest that had the opportunity to shape my life, for better or for worse. Prior to this trip, I didn’t care for international relations as I felt I wasn’t aware enough to discuss global issues and solutions to them. However, after sitting in the general assembly I started to enjoy debates and ideas that were flying around left, right and center. The entire idea of multiple bodies with their own interests working together to come up with resolutions and ideas to better themselves is one that fascinates me as it seems to unusual for it to occur, but massive treaties and resolutions are created, both in MUN and the UN, that every country agrees on. I am so interested in this, I am currently looking at double degrees in ‘Economics’, my primary interest, and ‘International Relations’ or ‘Politics’.

One of the few times I overcame my anxiety to ask a ‘Point of inquiry’ (Mr Hutton)

If I were to do the experience again I would try and involve myself, no matter how anxious or worried I am. I think that the practice of putting myself out of my comfort zone would help me in both advancing my skills, taking advantage of the steep learning curve, as well as helping me overcome my anxiety as I would soon learn it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, and that people didn’t care or notice how inexperienced I was, as proof by telling someone it was my first conference and him replying, “Oh really? You don’t seem nervous or amateurish at all.”

Currently, going into my last year of school, I am not done with MUN nor learning from new experiences, whether about myself or new ideas for the future, in school and out.

Phase 4 Reflection

I am most proud of my informal letter this semester, as it was the one that I most successfully followed the format, it was also the most the easiest to follow. In that I also tried to use different conjugations, which is what I normally find easier, but also different vocabulary, something I need to improve on.

I would personally not call myself a spanish speaker right off the bat, yet if someone were to ask me if I know spanish I would say, “to a degree.” I think that because I’m still not fluent with spanish, needing to work on my vocabulary and with what I’m actually saying, and because I can’t think quickly off the top of my head. However, with time, I think that I could figure out what is being said or what I want to say, but with time. A lot of time.

If I were to do something different, if I were to take the grade 10 spanish class again, I would probably study vocabulary more, and work on incorporating them into my writing more often. I also think that reading or listening to songs would help me improve my “day-to-day” language, the grammar and getting the rights words in the right places every time.

Three concrete actions I can and will take to prepare for next year would be to pay closer attention to the basic sentence structures of spanish sentences, helping me form my own when time comes for me to, as well as practice the irregulars of different tenses, and thus help me recognize and understand new verbs I see in readings, and finally just practice speaking out loud at home, as it would help me with thinking quickly and what I want to say, in addition to help my spanish pronunciation.

PSHE Reflection

Whether one is adept and fluent at achieving one particular wellness is a skill that someone develops, prior to organizing their life out in front of them. This key wellness trait would be decided upon based on their personality type, from myers briggs and their via strengths, as well as their situation around them. Personally, I’d put less emphasis on things like financial wellness, as I’m still living under my parents’ roof, and more on social wellness. As a student, we have to be balanced, promoting vocational wellness, and things like service groups provide a basis to work on ethical, which becomes compulsory for CAS in the DP.

Classes like PSHE allows us to focus on different aspects of being a teenager, whether it’s the pressure of drugs or trying to aim to be wise, we learn how each choice we make or how different scenarios will turn out, both in terms of real life situations, and our wellness. PSHE is also a class where we’re ‘forced’ to go outside of our comfort zone and talk about things like sex and STDs, which may be an uncomfortable thing to talk about with people like our parents. This allows us to improve things like our social wellness with our friends, but also mental wellness and knowledge, as most of the time we end up having longing discussions from it.

In my personal experience, I try to keep my physical and social health in check by doing things every few days. Whether this means going out for dinner with ‘the gang’ or just running to the city and back. In regards to my social health, I would classify having a healthy wellness as the ability to make meaningful relationships with friends, while at the same time the ability to create new friends. By consistently going out with new people, the circle of who I’m close to expands. I also think that I would be physically healthy, by trying to go for 10 km runs once or twice a week, and recently finding a ‘fun’ bouldering wall that allows me to focus mentally, needing to persevere, logically, which path I should take, as well as physically, actually having to develop the strength and skill to scale the walls.

While I would personally enjoy to develop more skills to stay emotionally happy, for my future, I do not see the need to put time and effort in as of now. The same can be said for financial, although that would need to change quickly as graduation is approaching quickly, and spiritual health.

Grade 10 Phase 4 Spanish Unit 2 Reflection

What are 7 ways what you learned is like Harry Potter, Star Wars, or the Lord of the Rings?

  1. You seem to have it all worked out, then some bad guy comes along and tells you they’re your father or that there’s even more irregulars
  2. You slowly but surely figure out that without you’re the galaxy’s last hope, or at least that actual studying is your last hope
  3. Everything is learnt, but we just decide to hide that knowledge away in a dingy room underneath the stairs
  4. Six films, 1171 minutes, 20 hours. You still need more time to study and prepare for the tests
  5. “Do or do not, there is no try”. Apparently there is three conjugations in that sentence, yet only two tenses.
  6. Frodo Baggins vs Bilbo Baggins. Subjunctive vs Negative. Imperfect -er/-ir vs Conditional. Mess one part up then you’re talking about a whole different franchise
  7. “Wingardium Leviosa” “No, you’re not saying it right. It’s Wingardium Leviosá-Á-Á.” “Wingardium Leviósa?” “No, nononono. No”

How is what you have learned relevant to other classes/material you are learning?

What we learnt in this unit is useful in other classes like InS or Art. InS because of our psychology unit, we now have a slightly deeper thought process when it comes to topics like these, as we’ve had to discuss them and converse about beauty or self esteem already. Art would be another class where this is useful because we just finished a unit about protest. Before this Spanish unit, I didn’t realize how much of a problem this topic was, and I would have possibly considered doing a piece or design on it for Critiera C in Art.

Write a headline of no more than 10 words to summarize your learning this unit.

Some New Vocabulary, Improved My Grammar, Yet Too Many Conjugations

Make a wordle or mind map of your learning.