Working tirelessly for the past six months, a group of students led by An Gulinck and her team of creatives, actors, musicians, artists and visionaries planned and executed an event that stressed the pressing issues of education, adjustment, cultural identity, survival and climate change. We welcomed speakers and guests from all over the world, united in their passion for sharing ideas that spark debate and conversation.
Following an opening drama performance on the theme of the sounds of Ho Chi Minh City, the event’s first talk came from CEO of Nord Anglia Education Andrew Fitzmaurice. Andrew relocated several times as a child and attended many different schools. As such he is no stranger to the benefits as well as the potential pitfalls of being a student ‘on the road’. His talk emphasized the value of an outstanding international education and the importance of preparing our young people for the unpredictable challenges of the future.
Next, the audience were taken on a journey of self-discovery by Year 13 student Minh Phung. During the summer, Minh spent a few days in his grandparents’ village experiencing the rural life that many of his young compatriots have left behind. He argued that the community of family and friends in the village offers something of great value that we should strive to preserve in our city lives.
Following on from Minh, we heard from Simon Finnigan. He has worked in a range of fields across a number of countries and recently became a father. Dr Finnigan’s talk was a thought-provoking journey through his own peripatetic career. He reflected on his familial roots in the north west of England and what it means for his own identity as well as that of his son as he grows up so far from everything that his parents knew in their childhoods.
Next, we had the pleasure to welcome Nord Anglia’s Education Director Andy Puttock. Andy wove a rich tapestry of his own educational voyage through the many countries he has lived in, which in turn has aided his development as an impassioned teacher and educationalist. Andy is fervent in his desire to give every child the opportunity to reach their true potential, be it academically, socially or in the arts; no child should ever be left behind.
Following an exceptional performance of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G Minor by BIS student Celestine Koh, the audience heard from another BIS student speaker, Charlotte Jacquemin. Like so many international school students, Charlotte is a Third Culture Kid. However, rather than lamenting the troubles of those growing up outside their parents’ home countries, Charlotte calls for TCKs to celebrate their uniqueness and, rather than being unsettled about where to call “home”, strive to construct a more varied identity less grounded in geography. A more transnational identity could lead to a more inclusive sense of belonging and, potentially, a more compassionate world.
Furthering our own BIS community, we are lucky to have in house staff who are willing to share their own experiences. Exploring and reflecting upon the idea of a ‘road to recovery’, Claire Easter, a self-proclaimed number lover, bent the rules and spoke about how we should accept that we may face extreme difficulties such as illnesses and we need to manage ourselves and our response to such challenges. There are only certain things about which we have control and in such situations, even the most well intentioned words may not be received in the way in which they were intended.
Finally, BIS HCMC had the honor of welcoming award-winning film producer Lord David Puttnam to the stage. After an 18-year hiatus from film production, he is now returning to the silver screen with a focus on climate change. Lord Puttnam delivered an outstanding commentary on man’s use of resources, our actions to change for the better and how action is what “makes a nation great”. While famous for his backlog of successful film productions including “The Killing Fields” and “Chariots of Fire”, Lord Puttnam has taken a keen interest in the state of man’s consumption and has returned to Cinema to produce an upcoming satire on the rate of climate change. His knowledge of education, politics and social commentary really shone through and it is clear that climate change is a topic that Lord Puttnam will be fighting to put right.
TEDx being TEDx, it did not stop at remarkable and humbling speeches. The BIS HCMC audience was immersed full throttle into the hustle and bustle of a typical Ho Chi Minh City street. Lead by the keen creative eye of Ms Anne-Marie Astley, guests heard from the experiences of those living and growing up in this city, how it has changed and how it is turning to new direction.
The outside of the theatre space was dominated by the sights and sounds of Vietnam. Traditional street foods such as banh mi and café sua da along with fusion twists on spring rolls and cupcakes; the catering team pulled out all the stops to ensure a feast befitting to HCMC was prepared. Likewise, the team managed to recruit some of the best interactive and workshop-led learning that is offered by BIS. The Social Space hosted a mono-printing art workshop based on textures and collected detritus the students had found along their personal travels through Thao Dien. Guests were invited to take part creating individual art pieces from the “On The Road” debris.