Advanced Academics: AISA Math Osaka

AISA Math Osaka is a Math competition that Seisen Osaka International School hosted from Feb. 01 2018 to Feb. 03 2018. At this competition, the sole purpose was to strengthen your problem-solving skills, collaboration and deepen your math knowledge. It consisted of many 2-hour long individual tests, many group work activities and lastly a boat competition, to relieve some stress from the math.

To prep for this intensive, I met up with the group I was traveling with, and we did lots of problems together and individually. In addition, we learned calculus 3 months ahead than other people, which was fun to do. Some of the topics that I had to focus on and practice a lot was calculus, sequences and series, and geometry.

At first, I was hesitant to join the trip because I was going to compete with other students who might be better than me, but my love for mathematics overshadowed this doubt. Completing a lot of problems that I was not able to do in the past showed a pattern of growth in myself. Studying the question before completing it allowed for in-depth engagement, thus it was less difficult to answer and showed an increase in my problem-solving ability.

The aim of participating in this challenge was to pinpoint my challenges in order to be able to further my knowledge and understanding of math, which I was able to do. My main difficulty during this competition was finding for patterns. For example, when we were given a set of numbers and had to find a pattern, I needed more help from others than usual. So after the trip, I practiced more on these type of problems. Another challenge was time. Since it was a competition a key aspect was completing as many problems with a certain time period. Which was difficult for me because I like to take my time on problems in order to complete it thoroughly. This is a difficulty I still have, but I continue to practice completing problems faster, and I have improved, because now after each test I have a bit of time to go over it and correct some problems.

After the competition, I felt as if I had improved on so many aspects of mathematics. Such as geometry and calculus. Additionally, my collaborative skills have improved because I had to work with 5 other people for 3 days. In the end, I am glad I decided to go on this trip because it has helped me grow as a math student.

First Day:

Second Day:

Third Day:

In the evening when it was time to go, everyone was a bit tired:

Additionally, to further my math passion, I am deciding from July to August participate in an intensive Math course in Holland, before I start my university.

Public Communication: Model United Nations

Models United Nations (MUN) is a club at my school, and many other schools, where we practice debating about current events. We write and present position papers, that is an introduction to where you stand on the topic, then you find other students who have the same point of view and write for/against speeches.

The first official event I attended was KMUN, which was a MUN conference at K International School Tokyo (KIST). The topic of debate was:

  • Forestalling the acquisition of nuclear weapons by rogue states and sub-national groups
  • Technology sharing toward the goal of a permanent colony on Mars

My point of view was from Canada. First, I needed to do lots of research where Canada stands on these questions in order to be able to write a position paper. Of course, Canada is a very peaceful country but remains powerful, so I needed to discuss these topics in an attempt to display these qualities. Therefore, I said:

“First, this delegate believes that countries have the right to nuclear possession, however, they should not be used during a time of differences, as violence is not a sustainable solution. The possession of nuclear weapons does not define a country’s power, but their weaknesses as it shows they feel threatened and a need to rely on force.

Secondly, the human race needs to find another planet due to the rising issue of pollution on our current one, which could lead to extinction. Therefore, we need to begin an active process towards inhabiting another planet before it is too late. For this to happen, this delegate believes all countries should contribute to advancing current technologies and share knowledge. However, shared information and technologies amongst countries cannot be stolen in order to advance a country’s own technology.”

I found this most appropriate way to tackle this debate since it shows that Canada does have an opinion on where it stands but they still stay neutral in order to maintain peace. And this is exactly the way it came across when I presented the position paper. To have successfully presented this position paper and then debated further was a rich experience for me because I learned how to communicate publicly and confidently. Which is an important skill because later in life, you need to be able to voice your opinion confidently in order for people to listen. In addition, it is important to reach a message to an audience about an important matter if you want to change. The way your message comes across is the most important aspect of public speaking. Therefore you must study the point of view carefully, and the message you want people to remember. This is precisely what I learned from this experience.

 

 

Below, I have attached the first assembly room, where I was present, a position paper and one speech.

                

Leadership: Sustainability

I am very confident due to my past experiences including Models United Nations, that I am very good at public speaking and taking leadership responsibility. To practice this every more, I analyzed which group I was most passionate about, which is the sustainability service group. Therefore I asked the founder of the sustainability service group to consider giving me more responsibility, and she agreed. From now on I will be advocating the group and we have this plan on creating a fashion show from all of the upcycled clothes we made, which I will be CM-ing.

 

In addition, at the food fair we were selling homemade organic products in homemade containers and even though it was raining,  I stayed outside and approached people to talk about the sustainability group. And I was able to sell 5 products, although many people had left due to the rain and the prime time was in the morning. I was the only one from my group who wanted to approach people and advocate the sustainability group in order to broaden people’s knowledge of upcycling.

 

Personal Accomplishment: Extension on Photography

I have been working on my photography for a long time and studying the art of photography by watching online videos and lessons, ie. on creativelive.com. Even by asking tips from self-employed photographers how they capture images. From all the tips gathered, I applied them to my skills and improved. Since I have been told I am very good at photography, and I am usually the designated photographer on outings. So I set myself a goal, that I would publish my artworks online to everyone to see and enjoy.

To accomplish this, I needed to achieve the following steps:

  1. Gather all pictures
  2. Make a copy of these pictures
  3. Watermark the copy (since I do still want credit for my photographs)
  4. Find a domain that allows me to make a website for free
  5. Then design a website to my likings
  6. Upload all the pictures
  7. Publish it on a social media platform

I dedicated some time every month to accomplish each step. It was a long difficult task due to the homework I already have from school, also because I have 10.000 pictures I needed to look through to find a dozen for the website. Then the next problem was, how was I going to watermark them without altering the quality of the picture. Then I finally realized I could just use preview on Apple to accomplish this. Finding a domain was actually not that difficult since I have been using wix.com since the 5th grade. Designing the website was not that hard either, it was until I changed the desktop view to phone view, and realized all the titles were jumbled up, so that was another bump in the road. But I took a deep breath and opened two browsers, one with a desktop view and the other with phone view and then I adjusted the titles accordingly.

Finally, after a year I was able to publish my website online on my social media. I am glad that I have a hobby/passion, I spent many years practicing, that I can share with everyone. I know many people enjoyed them, which made me happy because many people visited my website and told me my pictures were fantastic!

 

Here is a picture of my website:

https://maxencebusiness.wixsite.com/photography

I have categorized my pictures depending on location:

Then I published it on my social media platform because I have a good amount of followers:

The picture is “This is me.”

This post got the most comments ever. Which was an indication that people enjoyed it, so I accomplished my personal goal.

Personal Goal: 41/45 in IB

So, at this moment my predicted grade is 34/45, and I want a 41/45. You probably think I am crazy, well I think this is achievable. What I started doing in the beginning of 12th grade is something I should’ve started when I started the IB. In one homeroom we learned about WOOP goals. W is for a wish, O is for the outcome, the next O is for obstacle and the P is for a plan. To explain further, what I started doing is setting individual WOOP goals for each of my classes. So for example, for math, I said I wish to accomplish this unit, so I can practice and become better at understanding the art of math, the obstacle would be time management, and my plan is, do 20 min of each subtopic every day to not overwhelm myself. All of my woop goals I wrote down in my little diary, a diary because it is a personal goal of mine. I have been drifting off of this here and there due to the increased amount of assignments I have been given, EE finishing, 3 IA’s, etc. However, I still stick to my WOOP goals in the end of the day and I keep getting better. Evidence you might ask. I was looking over my grades and transcripts the other day, and realized my GPA at the end of last year was: 4.550 and at this moment it is: 5.330, which is close to an entire grade increase on ALL my subjects! This motivates me to work even harder to achieve this goal. Some people would call this a ‘dream’ score, I refuse to call this a dream because I will make it into a reality.

Some evidence of these WOOP goals:

Artistic Expression: Photography

When I was younger my sister was so good at photography, and I always wanted to be good at photography too, however, I never was. So I became very demotivated, per contra, a few years ago I wanted to try it again. Turns out, I had developed an eye for amazing shots! I continued to evolve my skill and grew passionate. I asked tips from a few photographers and they gave me advice and a website (creativelive.com), where I got further advice on photography. Now, I am thinking of making a blog where you can buy my artworks. This changed my view of the world. I realized you can monetize any hobby you have, of course, only if you want to, and you can dive into any passion and surround yourself with happiness. Photography is very important in my life because it allows me to express myself, how I am feeling at that point, in one picture, and if I apply filters, it amplifies my feelings. I do this through the use of color, usually, when I am feeling happy and excited I use pink hues, or augment the sunlight to make the picture radiate. As seen below:

            

If I am feeling a little sad at that moment, I use green or blue hues and usually reduce the brightness of the picture to make it a little more gloomy. As seen below:

            

I have been doing photography for some years now, and I plan to take some photography courses once I begin university. Usually, when I am out with my friends, or even inside my house, I find things to take pictures of, because, in my point of view, everything in itself is extraordinary.

 

(also the background of my blog is a picture I took).

Inter-Cultural Communication: Learning French

In Grade 7 I was faced with the decision, learn Spanish or French. I was leaning more towards the Spanish. My home country is Belgium and the languages they speak are Flemish, German and French. I already knew how to speak Flemish and German, so I chose French. Additionally, I chose this because I do not know much about my culture nor the French culture. Therefore I thought, tactically it would be the most beneficial for me to learn French. I am glad I did because I often visit Paris and I am able to make my own orders and talk with some of the locals and I adore it. This way my knowledge on the Belgian history and French history deepened. I now know what Arc de Triomphe stands for, why le Tour d’Eiffel is there on that position and much more! Not only did I become more intelligent, this helped me reflect on my decisions and grow as a person. In my opinion, more people should know about the history of their cultures, so we do not make past mistakes and repeat history.

The most common example I can think of using the French language is in café’s or restaurants. All you have to say is “Je voudrais …”, which means “I would like…”, you continue with what you want, such as “un coca” (coca-cola) or “un sandwich” (a sandwich), and end it with “s’il vous plaît”, which is “please”, because you have to stay respectful. Using the most common/ same phrases repeatedly seems tedious, but it can give you a confidence boost and a reassurance of your speaking skills. Which can lead to a person stepping out of their comfort zone and in the future trying new phrases and building up your language skills and connections to the culture.

Multilingualism: Flemish, English and German

Growing up I have lived all around the world, Belgium, The United States, Thailand, Singapore, Germany and now Japan. Spending five years in Belgium, I picked up my now-mother tongue, flemish. When I moved away from Belgium, I took many language courses, to allow me to strengthen my Flemish, speaking, and writing, overseas. Now, every time I visit Belgium again, I do not feel outcasted, since I am able to speak the local language. It is very important to me to keep up my mother tongue so I do not forget my heritance and the culture of my home country. Additionally, after living in Germany for so long, I have grown to love the country as if my home country. Exploring the language and culture to fit in with the society. Again, I followed many German courses whilst my stay. To not forget this part of me, I have continued to learn German after my move to Japan so I can conclude I am partially fluent in German now as well. Furthermore, part of my family lives in California, and when I would visit, I would attend camps that allowed me to broaden my English vocabulary. However, it was not until I moved to Germany and attended an International School that I became fluent in my English. The importance behind linguistics is to be able to meet many more people, solidify friendships and potentially help out in the future when starting a career. For example, last summer, my Belgian cousin took me out to meet her friends, however, then she wanted to talk to a person in private. This was not a worry for me, because I used my fluency in Flemish to meet more of her friends, and friends of friends and connect with them all! This was such a fun experience because I could talk about how I live in Japan and no one believed me because I sounded like a local. This proves that learning new languages can lead to many things, such as making new connections and feeling at home all around the world.

Global Understanding: Hope Cambodia

To understand more about the events happening all around the world, I joined the Hope Service Group. This group, however, mainly focuses on the rural areas of Cambodia, and what is happening. We meet every day 10 on the ten-day cycle to discuss different ways to raise money to build schools and wells and other things that are useful for the citizens living in rural areas. When I first joined the group they told us our goal was to raise ¥2,750,000.  To do this successfully, we were divided into groups of 3-5 people each, and each group came up with different ways of fundraising. For my group, we sold snacks at several school events, we held some bake sales, started a go-fund-me page and many other things. They also organize a trip every year for 20 people to visit the previous projects and help build the project at the moment. Unfortunately, due to some family business, I wasn’t able to join the trip. Even today, though, we are still raising money.

Overall, joining the Hope Service group was an excellent choice, because I get to learn more about their culture and how poor some areas are. However, through raising money, I can make a difference for some people. How? Every cent donated to this cause can help us and the organization build wells for clean water, new school facilities, new clothing, new academic material (such as textbooks) and even food. Access to clean water is viable. Most of us are lucky to be able to walk a few steps and turn on a tap. However, there are children and adults who walk hundreds of kilometers to get little water, which is not even clean. As a result, they can extract diseases and become very sick, and sometimes it could lead to death. In addition, a lot of children miss school due to these ‘trips’ and without proper education, they can not find jobs in the future. Moreover, the adults who miss their work, they miss out on the extra money they could have earned, and therefore are sometimes unable to feed their families. Malnourishment, famine, dehydration are all things most of us do not experience, and we should not have to go through that, this is why we need to support others and other countries to achieve one goal, international development. So before you buy that new pair of jeans, think twice, you could save a life.

 

Wilderness Engagement: Nakasendo 2018

From March 12th to March 16th, some 50 students or so and I went hiking along the Nakasendo trail. The Nakasendo trail starts in Kyoto and ends in Tokyo, and has 69 post towns in between. Of course, we did not do the entire trail, that would be absurd for some 16/17-year-olds. The trail was first used in the Edo period when it was used for messengers. Our hiking group only stayed in the Nagano Prefecture. Over the week there were lots of new experiences. Firstly, learning how to pack is essential! Since you will be carrying your own bag, you need to look at the weather beforehand and prep. However, I did not do this, so my bag was so heavy I had lots of back pains. But this taught me a lesson to take more initiative when planning events. Secondly, everyone on the hike was suffering from the warm weather and mountains. But this actually made the hiking fun, because everyone would help and be there each other. Such as giving each other water, food or even band-aids from getting blisters. This lead to making new friends and getting closer to the friends you already had. Lastly, after the long hike and hours of exercise, at one of the post towns we stopped at, we were able to soak in a traditional Japanese Onsen.

In the end, the Nakasendo trip was so amazing– even though I had my doubts. Just being away from the technology that envelops today’s society, it was rewarding to just be hiking in the wilderness. Hearing nothing but the birds’ chirp, leaves crackling beneath our feet and a breeze whistling through the trees was spiritually healing. This trip was so much more than a mandatory hike, it was the pause from work that I so desperately needed.