David Begbie (94) and Josh Begbie (96) at Crossroads International

David and Josh continue their pioneering work with Crossroads International. Recent highlights include their annual visits to Davos, Switzerland to bring the Refugee Run simulation to delegates of the World Economic Forum; their “Global Hand” cooperation with the UN continues to develop; and they continue to brainstorm how to build their Global Village at their Gold Coast site.  David and Josh continue to provide inspiration for HKIS students.  The two brothers were the first recipients of the alumni award in its inaugural year in 2008.

Amy Burns (09)

Amy is working as the Regional Operations Coordinator at the Nature Conservancy in Los Angeles. Her work is focused on environmental conservation, and she acts as a support for all the program managers in the Southern California and Deserts region. The Nature Conservancy works with all sectors and trying to find a win-win solution.  She is helping to start up an urban conservation program in LA. Amy loves her job!

Mercedes Chien (07)

Mercedes was in Humanities I in Action in 2003-2004, and Brian, Mercedes and Garyin her senior year (see picture on the right) worked with Brian Li (see below) and Gary Chan to begin a girls’ scholarship program in Guangdong Province through Concordia Welfare and Education Foundation that has enabled hundreds of girls (and now boys) to gain a high school education. Mercedes is currently a law student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.  Earlier this year, she was also a legal assistance clinic student at the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre , preparing legal documents on behalf of a refugee client wcfoshan03 064who submitted papers to the UNHCR to assist his asylum claim. Mercedes is also editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong Student Law Gazette, CUHK Faculty of Law’s student-run law publication.

Here is a picture of Mercedes (on the left) visiting the Foshan orphanage in November, 2003.

Michelle Choi (98)Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care

After working with various organizations including UNICEF, Michelle is back in Hong Kong as the Senior Project Manager for the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care. If you would like to know more about the services provided by the center, Michelle would like to hear from you:

Laurel Chor (07)

Laurel has had a wide variety of experiences following indexher graduation from HKIS in 2007. During the first half of her senior year at Georgetown, she worked for the UNHCR in Hong Kong, interviewing asylum seekers about access to health care, and then designed and conducted a qualitative study of young women’s perceptions and knowledge of abortion in a rural district of Ghana. Since her graduation from Georgetown in 2012 with a degree in International Health and International Development, Laurel worked with WWF, collecting behavioral data on gorillas in a national park in the Central African Republic. Currently, she is traveling to Ethiopia and the Congo for a number of weeks to assist a documentary filmmaker make a film about the ivory trade. In the coming months, she will return to Hong Kong. She has a grant from National Geographic to start a crowd-sourced initiative to document all of Hong Kong’s species, with a particular focus on endemic ones. This project is called the Hong Kong Explorers Initiative and she hopes to launch the web platform including a Wiki-style publicly editable database in the fall. This article tells more about her experience.

picAnjali Daryanani (07)

10610941_10202212756035173_8436836094029812953_nAnjali has recently moved to Hyderabad, working for an organization called Spandana that provides a home for at-risk or abandoned youth.  Previously, she worked in Washington, D.C. on a film focused on empowering secondary school students to tackle global challenges in their own communities. Anjali and two of her friends and fellow film study buddies joined our India Teaching for Empowerment Interim in Ambur, Tamil Nadu in south India in March, 2015. You can see their high quality videos of these trips here.

Lucy Doyle (96) – Doctors without Borders

Dr. Lucy Doyle returned to HKIS in October, 2012 to receive the Alumni lucy3.phpof the Year award for 2012. At that time she also spoke to our Humanities I in Action class about her dramatic experiences working for Doctors Without Borders at the largest refugee camp in the world in southern Kenya as well as her work in the Congo. Although Lucy explained her experiences in matter-of-fact terms, her intensive and at times dangerous work in some of the most unstable areas of the world was anything but ordinary for HKIS graduates.   The students followed her story with rapt attention as she related events that we had studied recently in class, such as refugees and genocide. Lucy was involved in the first Doctors Without Borders project in the US in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, as this NBC News article explains. She has now moved to Seattle and serves at a hospital, although she and her husband Ali continue to think about how to support medical services in the Congo.

Giorgia Franchi ( 01): Human Rights Law in London with Danielle Cohen Immigration Solicitors.

UntitledGiorgia trained in human rights law and has worked with a number of organizations in her field. She is currently finishing up a contract at the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian agency in London that focuses on refugee populations. In the near future, she’ll be working on a research project on violence against women and girls in conflict settings.

Robbieana Leung (05)

Robbie has pursued her interest in service from high school at HKIS onward – Pepperdine, English teaching in China, and her MA in Human Rights in the Netherlands.
In 2009, she created The Blanket Project, a global art dialogue and service project that focuses on the beauty of our shared humanity. Over 300 participants representing 40 nationalities responded to three core questions, “What do you hope for?”, “What does beauty look like?”, and “What is your dream for the world/others?”   Robbie and students from Pepperdine designed 100 project blankets and 100 books containing the responses, and distributed them to homeless people in southern California. She hopes to expand the project into a documentary.  Robbie reconnected with HKIS in 2010, joining Mr. Schmidt’s SSS class trip to the Foshan orphanage.  In November, 2012 Robbie spent six months at Yaowawit School in the rainforest of southern Thailand, teaching English at a school that HKIS visits on Interim. In June, 2013, she worked for the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Currently, she is teaching and spending time with family in Hawaii.

Jessica Leung (06)

Jess Leung & I Sept 6 2013After getting a degree in social work, Jessica worked at a program coordinator at the Nesbitt Centre in Sai Ying Poon, Hong Kong.  The Nesbitt Centre provides an English speaking educational programme for adults with learning disabilities together with a respite and residential facility, which helps to achieve independence and development of our students’ own potential and opportunities within the community. Most recently, she is now working as a bereavement counselor for an NGO in Kowloon.

Brian Li (07)

wcfoshan03 080brianAfter graduating from Claremont-McKenna, Brian worked as a compliance officer at the Saban Free Clinic in Los Angeles that serves the homeless and underserved communities, especially with regard to health issues, for the last two years. Just recently, he has been asked to serve as the interim operations manager of Saban’s three branches.  (Here’s a picture above from the Foshan trip in 2003 when Brian was a freshmen in my 9th grade World Cultures in Action class., and a picture of us meeting up September, 2013.)

Brian and I Sept 6 2013Barnabas Lin (05)

barneyOriginally from Singapore, Barnabas was in my Humanities I in Action with Ms. Talbot in the early days. Unfortunately, he left HKIS after his freshmen year. After high school, he attended Northwestern University where he majored in Communication Studies. Since graduating in 2009, Barnabas has served as a staff worker for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and is presently working for IVCF at the University of Chicago.

Terence Ma (07)

Terence is now completinTerrence Mag his Masters thesis on autism at Beijing University.  I caught up Terrence at Stephanie Tan’s “3 Generations” art show recently. Terrence shared with me that he credits Humanities I in Action with motivating him to study psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and his autism research in Beijing. The course, he said, helped him understand human nature and behavior, prompting his interest in psychology.

Minori Nagatomo (01)

Minori works as a Joint National Director of Education for International Care Ministries in the Philippines, overseeing 80 learning centers benefiting 2000 children and their families each year.  Indigent children in the Philippines are often rejected from public schools because of reasons that would shock the developing world (ex. they do not own black shoes, they can not already read and write, etc.)  Minori’s team searches out young children who are below the subsistence threshold, and gives them free education, school supplies, a daily fortified lunch as well as a scholarship to continue education at a public elementary school once they graduate.  This program has been in operation for 6 years, and 93% of their graduates are still in school!  You may contact her at

Minori was also our alumni of the year last year. Congrats, Minori!


Susan (Coleman) Olesek (89)

Susan is a Coach and Facilitator of The Enneagram, a road map of personality which helps to illuminate why we do the things that we do. Susan’s work includes a diverse range of clientele from churches, schools and non-profits to the incarcerated, one of her personal favorites to serve. The men and women in prison exemplify our common human struggles, whether they are “lifers” committed to finding personal freedom behind bars, or folks who have served their time and are getting ready for a new start on the outside.

Using the Enneagram as the backdrop for scrutinizing personality and its influence on the choices people make, Susan’s facilitation encourages fearless self-observation. Driven by a passionate conviction about her work, she strives to demonstrate that anyone brave enough to take an honest look at themselves is fully deserving of the liberation that is possible from applying the wisdom of the Enneagram system.

See a compelling 5-minute film about her work in prisons here:

Bridgette Sullivan (03)

Bridgette is now teaching 5th grade at the Delia School of Canada in Hong Kong.  As reported in the October 15, 2011 edition of the South China Morning Post, Bridgette’s class brought cards to a mainland family that came here in a last-ditch effort to save their young son’s life with a liver transplant.  The focus of the story is on the hope that the cards brought to these rural Chinese peasants, who had criss-crossed China searching for help and who had exhausted their savings, but to no avail until they came to Hong Kong.

Corrie Sutherland (07)

After graduating with degrees in Global Development wcfoshan03 093Studies and Sociology from the University of Virginia in 2012. Corrie felt called to do the most challenging and daunting job she could think of, which is why she chose Teach For America (TFA). She teaches in Charlotte, North Carolina, and despite the many challenges, she writes, “I love my kids! I get the honor of teaching my students about different world literature/cultures and I’ve introduced them to some of the same material that you taught me, like Joseph Campbell’s the hero’s journey andthe Allegory of the Cave!” Following her two-year commitment to TFA at the end of the 2014 school year, Corrie will be looking for her next adventure. (Also Corrie’s picture from the Foshan orphange in 2003.)

corrie in charlotteLisa Sweetman (2000)

After completing a Masters in education, Lisa thoroughly enjoyed teaching for 7 years in the Toronto public school system as a kindergarten teacher and then as a special needs teacher. Most recently, she has turned her attention to organic food, starting a business called Earth and City, which sells mainly raw, all vegan food at farmers markets in Toronto. Partnering with local farmers and local producers to create seasonal offerings and being part of a sustainable, local, and innovative food system is something Lisa loves! She and her business partner own the company together and are so excited about the possibilities for the future. In the future she would like to work with kids and families again, but with more of a food focus.

Corey Ueland (2006)

Corey completed his degree in Marine Biology at Hawaii Pacific University. He then did work in Fresh Water Fisheries at University of Wisconsin, where he received his Global Informations Systems certificate. He is now working at a nonprofit
called Wally Noerenberg Hatchery, which is located on public lands managed as a State Marine Park by the Alaska Department Natural Resources in Lake Bay on the southern tip of Esther Island in the northern district of Prince William Sound.  The Hatchery produces pink, chum, coho and Chinook salmon to promote sustainable fishing. The island is only accessible by float plane.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 5.35.59 PMCharles Watson (2009) at Solar Leap

Charles graduated in 2009 and as of yet has not attended college.  Rather, he has expanded his senior project, which involved bringing solar-powered computers to people in Asia off the grid, into a social business.  Last year Charles was a co-recipient of the Alumni Award for his innovative work.  In 2011 the proceeds from the annual charity fashion show in March have gone to support Charles’ exciting venture. Here is an update on Charles’ work.

Part-Time or Volunteers


Jamie Shih (07), Jennifer Wu (08), and Joyce Yam (11):

Ember, originally called the Care for Learning and Community Scholarship Program, was founded by three seniors at HKIS.  In 2007, Jenn along with three of her friends took and over and expanded the high school scholarship program.  Jamie also participated in the Summer English and Leadership Camp in 2007 and organized various fundraising events for the program.  In July, 2009, she co-founded the University Scholarship Program along with other members of Ember. Joyce along with other seniors at HKIS took on the project last year for their senior project. This picture was taken at Ember’s most recent fundraiser, a fashion show at Renaissance College, organized by Donna Chiu and her friends.

Stephanie Tan (02)

Following graduation from Claremont McKenna College in 2006, Steph worked at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in New York and later at the Alain Ducasse Entreprise in communications and marketing.  More recently, she decided to follow her real passion – food! – and attended the French Culinary Institute in New York where she received a diploma in culinary arts. Now back in HK, she is teaming up with two partners to start a HK chapter of Table for Two (TFT).  TFT’s mission is to address the global food imbalance by having those from the developed world and disadvantaged children from developing countries share a meal across space and time. TFT partners with corporate cafeterias, universities, and restaurants by offering healthy meal selections in addition to a regular menu. When a healthy TFT-branded meal is purchased, USD 25 cents is donated to provide a healthy meal for a child in the developing world  This in turn increases school attendance and improves educational performance. In order to fulfill the the guidelines, a TFT meal needs to consist of an average of 850 calories/dish, and also be considered a well balanced meal.  Feel free to contact her at this email:

Most recently, Steph is starting an exciting new venture – she has opened the Kinnet,a health center for those 50+ in Sheung Wan.


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