“Empowering Students to Solve Community Problems: Research and Pilot Program” by Naina Mishra


Naina engaging in a service project with Muslim students in India.

Dear Reader,

Naina is a recently-graduated senior student at HKIS who has thought quite deeply about two issues that are priorities in our school community: service learning and student leadership. However, Naina has gone beyond offering her opinion or even initiating her own service projects. Through her AP Capstone course last year, she conducted a research study to understand the skills needed to successfully implement service projects that benefit the community.  Continue reading

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“Practicing Self-Love with the Enneagram” based on Robert Holden’s Global Enneagram Summit Talk


In June, 2016 I attended an Enneagram workshop in London taught by two of the  leading Enneagram teachers in the world, Russ Hudson (teaching) and Robert Holden (seated). In this entry I summarize a recent teaching session done by Robert on how the  the Enneagram can be used as a tool to develop greater self-love.

“The Enneagram is the most powerful system I know for identifying and releasing inner blocks to love and for enabling you to be a loving presence in the world.”

-Robert Holden, Loveability

Dear Students,

Last fall as we were reading Simon’s confrontation with theRelated image Lord of the Flies in William Golding’s famous novel by that name, we discussed how the beast strategically attacks Simon at the level of self-doubt and personal insecurity.  I paused, then, and asked my students: how many of you are tougher on yourselves than anyone else is in your life? Immediately 85% of the hands went up. That was a watershed moment for me, for I realized that perhaps the biggest problem most HKIS students face is what is called the Inner Critic, which can become a corrosive force upon one’s being.   Continue reading

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“Recovering My Focus Towards Self-Love:” Final SSS Essay by Hollis Brown

Balkans Interim 2018Dear Students,

When you become an upperclassman at HKIS, the word “college” looms large over everything else. The question at this stage of your life, to paraphrase Jesus’ famous line, is, “How to gain college admission without losing your soul?” In response to this concern, I fill the “Service, Society, and the Sacred” (SSS) curriculum with teachings, activities, and outings that will give you the opportunity to reduce your stress and discover a more grounded self. Continue reading

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“Creating Humanities II in Action: Our Story” by Matthea Najberg, Jonathan Chung, and Nicole Lim

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Dear Reader,

I first began teaching the Humanities I in Action course in 2003, and from the beginning it intuitively felt like the kind of education students wanted. And for more than ten years I have talked about proposing a Humanities II in Action for the simple reason that every year students – like Matthea, Jonathan, and Nicole – ask why there isn’t a second year of the “in Action” approach to learning.

Four years ago Mike Kersten and I wrote a curriculum for a Humanities II in Action, but the timing wasn’t right to propose it. So, it had always remained something of a disappointment that a year 2 had never even been discussed, despite abundant student interest. All that changed last school year, however, when new energy emerged from an unlikely sector: a small group of junior year students wanted to propose a Humanities II in Action course. How could students succeed in proposing a new course – especially a core offering –  where experienced, passionate, and committed teachers had failed? What follows is their story of how it happened. Continue reading

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Wisdom’s Wager: Quiver Like A Bead of Mercury


McEwan Hall at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland

What is the spiritual life all about at its core? Image result for believe in the lord jesus and you will be savedGrowing up in a conservative Christian household, I knew the answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Believing meant to assent in your mind and heart that Jesus was the Son of God who came to earth out of his deep love for us and died for our sins, so that we could spend eternity with God and others who had been saved, avoiding the fate of the damned. There was nothing I could do to secure my salvation; God had done all the work by his grace. All I had to do was believe. Continue reading

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Deep Without and Deep Within: Curricular Paths for Expansion of Student Consciousness

IMG_20180209_110029473(2)Jonathan, Nicole, and Matthea proudly advertize the Humanities II in Action course at the high school academic marketplace in February. These three worked for many months to propose and ultimately pass a Humanities II in Action curriculum, creating a second year of the “in Action” course.


I’ve found myself saying that this year – 2018 – will be the most exciting year of teachingScreen Shot 2018-04-05 at 4.30.08 PM at HKIS since I began in 1990. Thanks to two organic developments that emerged in 2016, HKIS is on course for a perfect storm of change that I expect will make a fundamental shift in our high school students; these forces are already at play and the first fruits are appearing. It feels like the right time to call attention to this phase shift, offer some tentative predictions, and consider what is possible at a mainstream international school such as HKIS. Continue reading

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The Refugee Run and “White Helmets:” The Deep Impact of Experiential Learning


It is a truism that “experience is the best teacher,” and so it is with Humanities I in Action, our cornerstone social conscience course at HKIS, that the second most powerful lesson in the curriculum (after the Foshan orphanage trip*) is a simulation developed by the Hong Kong NGO Crossroads Foundation called the “Refugee Run” in which students enter into the life of one of the 65 million refugees in our world today. Participants in the 90-minute simulation cross a border under the threat of rebel attack and then live in a refugee camp for several “days.” Led by HKIS alum David Begbie, the Refugee Run involves approximately 10 actors from Crossroads who play the various roles of rebels, refugee camp officials, guards, exploiters, teachers, and nurses. The experience leaves a deep impact on students, one that they recall throughout their high school career. Continue reading

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