I was recently at International High School at Union Square (IHS-US), one of two International High Schools in Manhattan, to interview students for my Student Profile Series. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Alvet Nero, the school’s community associate, who took me on a quick of the new school facilities before leading me to his office to interview two juniors – Ana Gonzalez, originally from Mexico, and Cheng Peng, who moved here from Northern China 2 years ago. My interviews went really well and you can read Ana and Cheng’s student profiles on the Internationals Network for Public School Facebook board here. My conversation with them also highlighted what the international high schools students, including myself, like so much about the way our teachers, our school principals and counselors approach education in each of our schools. The school structure across the Network puts the focus on student learning, promoting class activities such as collaborative work groups, student portfolios, etc., to foster critical thinking and effective communication across a wide range of academic content. In my own experience, my teachers make sure my classmates and I learn how to solve complex problems and think critically about the projects we work on throughout the school year, rather than simply understand the materials covered. In the process, we have acquired the confident to know what we can and will achieve after high school, college and career. This is all very exciting!
Another blog entry, another interesting week. Interviewing students and writing my Student Profiles series, in addition to posting school and student achievements on Internationals’ Facebook Board and writing for this blog, has given me an inside look into the International High Schools and how they prepare young immigrant youth like myself succeed in a this country. For my 3rd school visit, I went to Brooklyn International High School where I interviewed two amazing seniors for my Student Profiles Series – Yangzom Lhamo and Tenzin Chotsok. My first impression of the school was also my last – Brooklyn International High School is a very tight-knit school community in which both faculty and students have a shared sense of responsibility for one another. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by the school staff, including the school principal, Ms. Pamela Taranto, who then introduced me to Tenzin and later Yangzom, both originally from Tibet. I talked to them for quite some time and both conversations were eye openers. They both worked very hard to be where they are today and in few months their focus and hard work will pay off. This fall, they will both enter college, the first member of their family to ever do so. The one thing I keep hearing through my student interviews is how each one of these students is determined to make a difference in the world and help others achieve and succeed. Their personal stories alone are enough to inspire anyone. A lot of students including myself have come to realize that if the community succeeds, we all succeed. I think an important thing that connects all International High School students. We have all realized that when an immigrant student comes to a new school, the beginning months are always very difficult. And It is during this time that we naturally try to socialize and help younger students. I have witnessed this behavior in all the schools I visited so far.
Next week, I plan to visit International High School at Union Square and will connect via Skype with International High School at Oakland for more amazing student profiles. You can learn more about Tenzin and Yangzom, and all the other students I interviewed so far, by visiting the Internationals Network for Public Schools Facebook board.
Muhammad Maaz Syed
Week #2 was very productive and interesting. I visited International High School at Prospect Heights. IHSPH is on the 4th floor of the beautiful Prospect Heights High School building, which was built in the 1920s. I was welcomed by student counselor Kristi Pantin. She was very busy placing some 90 interns on sites when I walked into her student filled office, yet she still found the time to introduce me to Souleymane Diallo and Chemi Chemi. Souleymane, who is a senior from Guinea, is an amazing guy. We talked for 20 minutes and I left energized and inspired by his journey, and especially by his desire to give back to the community by participating in afterschool programs, helping out a local soup kitchens or tutoring his peers in math. Souleymane hopes to work in Finance after he graduates from college. I was also very impressed by Chemi, who left Tibet for India before moving to the US. She was full of energy and told me she had just been accepted to Hampshire College to study Journalism. She told IHSPH and her teachers helped find her own voice and the power to use it wisely. I had a great time interviewing Souleyman and Chemi because we have a lot in common yet come from such different parts of the world. Before leaving, I took some photos of IHSPH’s walls because they are decorated with colorful paintings, students projects and inspiring quotes. After posting these student profiles on the Internationals Network Facebook page, I personally received a lot of great and positive feedback from my schoolmates, teachers and even my cousins. I’m proud to be part of the Internationals community.
My name is Muhammad Maaz Syed and I am originally from Pakistan. I came to this country two years ago and have been studying at The International High School at Lafayette ever since. I just completed my first week of internship. My experience so far has been great. I am mainly responsible for creating, writing and finding content for the Internationals Facebook page, E-newsletter, and other social media platforms. Recently, I started my own Student Profile Series for the Internationals Facebook page – I will be visiting one of 14 NYC International High Schools each week to interview several students about their success stories, their experience of being new in this country, and their college and career goals and aspirations. These will be posted on the Internationals Facebook page. This week, I will be heading to Brooklyn International High School. Also, I will be creating one blog entry per week about my experience as an intern for Internationals Network for Public Schools. On a side note, I was totally unaware that there was a main Internationals Network office. The office is very busy and visitors are always coming and going. More next week!
The Early College Program at International High School at LaGuardia Community College (LaGCC) offers students the opportunity to take college classes while they are also taking high school classes. The student’s interdisciplinary team of high school teachers works with the team’s counselor to schedule each student for college classes when he/she is ready. Students are also able to stay one year after they finish high school in order to take college classes at LaGCC. In order to support students who are taking college classes, the Early College Coordinator holds daily advisory classes for students. These advisory classes help in many ways. Student feedback on the early college program is below.
We appreciate that we could have the chance to take free college classes while we are in the high school and while some college students are fighting to pay their tuition. The early college program is very helpful to us for the following reasons. First, it provides us a chance to experience college classes, which lets us gain knowledge of how are college classes. Second, it lets us learn how to be a responsible person. Third, the early college program provides us an opportunity to learn subjects that high school classes can’t provide to us. Lastly, it lets us have the chance to gain college credits and that makes our transcripts stronger. The advisory class, which is indispensable to the early college program, gives us very valuable suggestions of how to succeed in the college and provides us help when we need.
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Leo Rong Jiang Ming graduated from The Manhattan International High School in June 2010. He will be attending Stanford University in the fall to study Chemical Engineering.
People say that life is a long journey. Well, thankfully, our journey has only begun. So far, our journey has taken us here … to this moment… after four years of hard work and a love of learning at Manhattan International High School. As our high school chapter comes to an end, we have so much to look forward to. However, it’s more important at this moment for us to first look back, not only to revisit those wonderful memories with one another, but also to thank everyone who has been there for us the entire time, supporting us and helping us along our journey.
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This post continues our Student Voices series. Jie Bin Liu graduated from The Brooklyn International High School this June and will be attending Colby College in Maine this fall. This is his valedictory speech.
Principal Pam, teachers, parents, friends, and fellow graduates, it is truly an honor for me to speak to all of you today.
I have a few words that I would like to address to the graduating class. Seniors, we have always been a very diverse group of people. We come from different regions of the world. We speak different languages and have very diverse cultural backgrounds. After the graduation today, we will all be going in different directions. The past four years at BIHS has been an important time in my life. And I’m sure it has been an important time in your lives as well. There has been a lot of change and growth in all of us over the past four years.
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Gurcharan Singh graduated from The International High School at LaGuardia Community College in June 2010 and will be attending the City University of New York in the fall to study engineering. Gurcharan’s speech is sparked by his humor.
I never understood the meaning of the expression having “butterflies in the stomach”, but now I think I feel it thoroughly.
I am very honored today to address the Principal, the amazing faculty, all the parents and of course this great, talented, diverse Class of 2010. I am proud to be a part of you.
Now graduates, I would like you to take a moment, turn to the students sitting next to you and shake hands……. You have just greeted future doctors, businessmen, soccer players, singers, electric engineers, hairdressers, child psychologists, journalists, actresses,marketeers and pharmacists. And now I can officially say everybody has been touched by my speech.
I still remember that on the first day of my freshman year, I was so quiet and shy that some of you would not believe me now that I am giving a speech. Most of you have been in the same situation. But look at us now, we have grown unconsciously. And when we look back to that freshman year, we might say, “That was me?”
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Katerina Andreadis is a 2010 graduate of The Manhattan International High School. She will be attending Hunter College in the fall to study psychology and pre-med. This is her graduation speech.
What is an outsider? How do you stop being an outsider? Did you feel this way when you entered this country?
I traveled to America to live with my mother, brother and stepfather in our small apartment on 62nd street in July of 2006. I had no other relatives or friends. I was given a choice of a few high schools to attend. I chose the school closest to us, it was as simple as that. I had no idea what the school was about. I walked in to Mr. John’s earth science class. I entered. I stopped. I looked. There was a Spanish group, what looked like a Polish group and a group of four Asian girls. I sat with the Asian girls. I spent the whole class in silence, trying to figure out why Americans put dots on decimal numbers instead of commas, like they do in Greece. Trying to break the silence, I turned and asked the Asian girl next to me, “Can you help me with this?” Four years later, that girl, Kay, is one of my best friends. In the next few months, in Mr. Moses’ class, we had to write our goals and priorities. My whole life, my main goal was to be with my mother. I had finally achieved that. So now my main and only goal was to lose weight. As time passed, and I was safe at home and I no longer felt different and alone at school, my set of goals began to expand. You, my fellow students and teachers, are the ones that helped me find my motivation and interests.
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