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Mr Sean O'Neill: Weekly Update 24/09/2021

Sean O’Neill
Sean O’Neill (52 posts) Head Teacher, Secondary Campus View Profile

Dear BIS Community,


Music has always played a huge part  in our wellbeing. The joy of listening to music, of playing music or joining together with others in a collective musical experience spans all cultures, ages and societies.  The part that music plays in our personal and collective wellbeing has been shown to be especially significant during this period of lockdown.


I know this is one of the features of school life that we are all missing right now - the ability for us all to come together as a school community to enjoy the skill, energy and collaboration of our student musicians and musical ensembles in the same way we do in a normal school year. This lunchtime, however,  we had the privilege of  experiencing just that - coming together and being entertained and elevated by our first ever “Virtual Acoustic Lounge.”


Thank you to all the students who performed from their homes, some from across the globe, to share their music with us - your performances were simply stunning. You have certainly made a small but significant difference to our school community’s wellbeing today. 


Please click on the link below to enjoy the performances again. 


I would also like to say thank you to all the students who have participated in the Blue Dragon Marathon Walk this week, staying active and raising funds to support those who need it at this time. There is still time to donate, all contributions to this fantastic cause are very gratefully received


I would like to remind all Secondary parents that you  are all invited  to our upcoming Parent Partnership webinars, starting on Tuesday 28th September with our webinar “A Window into Virtual Learning”. We also have community social events organised by our wonderful PTG coming up soon.  Look out for further details to come.


We are all hopeful of positive change in the weeks ahead, and we are working hard, planning to welcome all our students, teachers  and parents back on to campus when the conditions allow. Until then, thank you for your ongoing participation in the many events that are continuing as part of BIS school life - whether academic - such as our recent Options Events, Community Fundraising,  such as our contribution to the Blue Dragon Marathon Walk, or in the social activities to come.  We all value your partnership at this time.


Wish my best wishes for a safe and restful weekend.


Sean O’Neill

Listen Again to the Amazing BIS Acoustic Lounge

Today at lunch time we hosted our first ever Virtual Acoustic Lounge. The monthly event which usually takes place in the Curve was hosted on our YouTube channel.  

If you missed the lunch time event or would like to enjoy these wonderful student performances again you can find them on our BISHCMC YouTube channel here.

In order of performance...

  • Felicity– ‘Attention Seeker’  (Year 13)

  • Anya – ‘Rolling in the Deep’ (Year 11)

  • Browny  - ‘Vincent’ (Year 9)

  • Jane &  – ‘Real Love’ (Year 13)

  • Hao  – ‘Queen of Disaster’ (Year 13)

  • Moc Lan  – ‘Mortals and Fools’ (Year 13)

  • YoonSeo  – ‘Summer’ (Year 7)

  • Nathan – ‘Good Riddance’ (Year 8)

  • Kathy  – ‘Remember You’ (Year 8)

  • Hao & Jenny – ‘Easy’ (Year 13)

  • DongGue – ‘Arrangement of a Korean Folk Tune’ (Year 13)

  • Ellie & Jason – ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ (Year12)

Inspiring Our Student Artists- Amazing Art during Virtual Learning

BIS Secondary Celebrates Peace One Day 2021

This week, the Events Committee was more than honoured to celebrate the annual event of Peace One Day along with students in BIS!

Peace One Day took place on Tuesday 21st of September. With the launch of the website, the students were given the opportunity to explore lively activities that interlink with the values of the organisation ‘Peace One Day’ within their Form Classes. Online activities included global awareness (including a highlight on global celebration and the situation in Afghanistan), history of the organisation and quizzes. The offline activities consisted of the arts, where students could create their own artworks and to learn the interesting link between origami and Peace. These activities want to encourage students to make changes in their very own community.

A special thanks to Anagha Jois (8B) for her drawing on this year’s theme: Peace and Sustainability. Her message ‘World Peace begins with Inner Peace’ is a beautiful message to show the importance of educating ourselves for a brighter future.

The students also showed enthusiasm by wearing white shirts! Here we have pictures of the classes 7V and 8I proudly expressing their stance with peace. The ‘Peace One Day’ organisation has claimed white as a representation of hope, so wearing white on the day is a way to show your support to Peace. 

It was a delight to see the students’ engagement with the Global Issues. We hoped that the students used the opportunity to reflect, learn and appreciate - even if it took place behind the screens of our homes this year. Please feel free to explore the activities as a family: https://sites.google.com/bisvietnam.com/peaceday2021 

Wishing everyone a happy Peace Day!

The Events Committee 

(Written by Louise Lee and Mai Thao Tang 13I)

IGCSE Options Choices Begin for Year 9 Students


Life is a series of choices, some of those choices having significant consequences; this week saw the start of one such set of choices for our Year 9 students as they begin selecting their IGCSE options for next year. Students and parents attended a webinar on Wednesday afternoon with myself, where they were introduced to the IGCSE programmes and the unparalleled levels of support that we offer here at BISHCMC. This was followed with PTSCs on Thursday and a series of virtual subject fayres on Friday. Fundamental to making the right decision is information and we encourage students to engage with the wide range of information which has been shared – the options handbook, the screencasts, the webinar content, the PTSC conversations, and the subject fayres – to support them in making the right choices for them.

Happy choosing, Year 9: your journey to independence is beginning and we are all here to support you, however we can.

Amy Murphy

Deputy Head Teacher: Curriculum & Learning


Blue Dragon Marathon Walk Update

This week our students walked their part in the Blue Dragon Marathon Walk 2021 with each student walking 2-3kms around their homes during the school day. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our students with many students logging up to 6kms and one student completing a full marathon over the week! Our teachers have also been getting involved, with Mr Falconer running a half marathon for this cause. 

For more than 15 years Blue Dragon Children’s foundation has been providing holistic care for those in need, whether a rural child who has found themselves alone on the streets of Hanoi searching for work, or a young woman who has been trafficked into China as a bride. Join us in helping vulnerable Vietnamese youth break out of poverty! 

Click here to Donate. For step-by-step instructions on how to make a donation, please click here.

We would encourage you to also watch this video which features one of the Blue Dragon children telling their story of how the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation impacted their life.

I'm looking forward to updating you next week with the final count of kms walked and donations made. 

Form time with 7N


Form time with 9M


Mr Falconer 


James Nguyen 12V walked 42km!

Thank you for your support.

Savannah Craig 

Acting Secondary Community Coordinator

Meet the New Teacher

Matthew (Matt) McGee - Business and Economics Teacher

M.Ed. Uppsala University, Sweden

MBA  Industrial business, economics and marketing, Uppsala University, Sweden

Matt McGee has a background similar to that of many international students: of Irish-American heritage; born in Ecuador, raised in the West Indies, Latin America, Greece and Sweden and teaching ’abroad’ since 2006. After far too many years at Uppsala University in Sweden getting his MEd in History, Politics & Economics and Master’s in Business and Management and Economics, he slipped into teaching much by accident. He started teaching IB Economics in Sweden in 1996 and when several ex-students pointed out that they were selling his Economics notes to first year students in UK universities, he started writing the first of three editions of his IB Economics textbook “The Good, the Bad and the Economist”  in 2001.

Matt spends a goodly portion of his free time at the gym, available fishing waters and going walkabout with loving Australian wife in Indonesia, China, Italy, India, Australia, Alaska and Sweden. The grey area between free time and professional time is geared towards news and current economic affairs and data. He emphasises to students that the “dismal science of economics,” in the words of John Maynard Keynes, stipulates that nothing is beyond the interest and sphere of the economists… whereby students are always encouraged to write to him with suggestions!

Where have you moved to BIS from?

Dulwich College, Shanghai, China

Why did you move to BIS?

To be in a country I love - and to work in what is one of the best IB schools in the world. Not to mention being in what is in all likelihood a Business and Econ Dept. that is in the top ten in the world. Maybe top five.

What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

The colleagues! Not ONE single colleague has shown the slightest hesitation in going 'above and beyond' - be it helping with sourcing crunchy peanut butter or getting the school computer tweaked. I've encountered naught but kindness and lots of humour. My kind of place.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

Nobody ever believes it, but I am a good cook, sketch artist and seamstress. Benefits of a Swedish education.

Lorena Jimenez - Spanish Language Assistant

Bachelor’s Degree in Translation and Interpreting Spanish, English and FrenchUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid(Spain)

Master’s in Obligatory Secondary and Upper Secondary School Education, Vocational Training and LanguagesSpanish Language and LiteratureUniversidad Internacional de Valencia, Valencia(Spain)

Lorena’s passion for languages and cultural communication led her to study Translation and Interpreting at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), with the specialities of Spanish, English and French. After graduating in 2016, she pursued different jobs in the linguistic field and has translated several art-related books into the Spanish language. During her time abroad, Lorena completed her Master’s degree in Teaching Spanish Language and Literature and has taught both native Spanish speakers and international students. In her free time, Lorena enjoys reading books, learning Vietnamese, and doing sports such as climbing and weightlifting.

Where have you moved to BIS from?


Why did you move to BIS?

It is a new opportunity to start a teaching career and a great environment.

What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

A two-week walk in the north of Vietnam.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I enjoy reading, sports and hiking.

Adam Morson - English Teacher

LL.B (Hons) Law, University of Leicester, UK

PGCE Secondary English, University of Nottingham, UK

Adam joined BIS HCMC in August 2021. Following the completion of his PGCE in 2013, he began his teaching career in Nottingham before moving to South America and spending five years at San Silvestre School in Lima, Perú, where he took on the role of Whole School Literacy Coordinator. Prior to his career in secondary teaching, Adam spent two years working in journalism and also taught business English in Hungary, Australia, the Czech Republic and Finland. In his spare time, Adam enjoys literature and road cycling.

Where have you moved to BIS from?


Why did you move to BIS?

After five years in South America, I was excited for a new challenge and found that in the opportunity to move to Vietnam and BIS.

What has been the best experience for you since arriving in Vietnam?

Vietnamese curry...

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I have recently taken up yoga.

Be involved

Invitation to our Parent Partnership Events

We are delighted to invite all Secondary Parents to a series of Parent Partnership Workshops. Our first events focus on Learning and Wellbeing in a Digital environment. I do hope you can join us.

Tuesday 28th September 8.30am : A Window into Virtual Learning:  Join us for a practical workshop to learn more about approaches and techniques that are shaping your child’s virtual learning experience.  Follow this link to register.

Tuesday 5th October: Digital safety - how to support your child in making safer choices when online: join us for a practical workshop to learn more about social media platforms, digital footprints, gaming and how to balance screen time. Our Senior Leadership, Learning Technologies and Welfare and Guidance teams are looking forward to sharing some tips and resources with you in the interactive session.

Join the Novelicious Book Club - Thursday 30th September

Welcome back Book Lovers

The PTG Book Club - Novelicious will have their first meeting for the year next week, on Thursday 30th September at 9.30am, and we would love any interested persons to join us.  We will be choosing our first book to read and then will meet in four weeks to discuss your thoughts and ideas on the chosen book.  We look forward to seeing you there.

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

  • Things We Lost to the Water, Eric Nguyen

  • A Place for Us, Fatima Farheen Mirza 

Event Details

Date: Thursday 30th September

Time: 9.30am

Join Zoom Meeting here and use the Passcode: 419041

Virtual University Visits - UK, Singapore, US, Canada

Tuesday Sept. 28th 4pm – 5pm An Introduction to the Russell Group & Applying to UK Universities - Follow this link to register for this event.

University representatives from the University of Glasgow, the University of Nottingham and the University of Liverpool will be giving an introduction to the Russell Group, representing 24 leading UK universities. You will also be hearing about the UK application process with focus on the personal statement. We recommend this webinar for any student who is applying to the UK. 


Thursday Sept. 30th 3pm-4pm  “Studying in Singapore” - Follow this link to register for this event.  

Singapore is an increasingly popular destination amongst students from Vietnam. Providing high quality education in a safe and modern environment which is only a short flight from Hanoi or Saigon. A representative from Singapore Institute of Management will talk students through the Higher education system in Singapore and why it might be a good option for students from British International Schools in Vietnam. 


Thursday Oct. 7th 3pm-4pm   The University of Cambridge - Follow this link to register for this event.   

Following their previous webinar with BIS students in March 2021 which can still be viewed here, we are delighted to welcome back the University of Cambridge. This time Jo Fretwell (Regional Admissions Manager for South-East Asia for the University of Cambridge) will give us an expert insight into two key elements of the application process for Cambridge: The Admissions Tests and The Interview(s). This webinar (along with the others) is being delivered specifically for our group of four Nord Anglia British International schools in Vietnam.  It should prove useful for any student applying to any highly competitive UK university which may use admissions tests or interviews as part of the application (The University of Cambridge, The University of Oxford, Imperial College, London or indeed any student applying for Medicine at ANY UK university). 


Tuesday Oct. 12th 5pm-6pm   Boston University  - Follow this link to register for this event.  

You are invited to join for a presentation specifically for students from Vietnam about applying to Boston University. At Boston University a diverse student body from all 50 states and nearly 100 countries around the world comes together to create a vibrant campus, where students are guaranteed four years of housing. With 90% of students completing at least one internship while at BU, it's no surprise that the University is ranked #14 for most employable graduates. This session will be led by the Director of International Admissions, Anne Corriveau. There will be a brief overview of BU followed by an opportunity for you to ask questions. 


Thursday Oct. 14th 3pm-4pm   The University of Toronto - Follow this link to register for this event.  

One of the most popular destinations for our students, and also Canada’s top university, the University of Toronto is a leading destination for innovators and trailblazers the world over. Students can choose from 700+ programs in the sciences, the arts, business, engineering, music, architecture, kinesiology, and much more. With three campuses in and around Toronto—one of the world's most diverse cities, and a hub of culture, finance, and technology—our students enjoy access to professional training in and out of the classroom, international partnerships, research courses, cutting-edge facilities, and warm collegiate communities. And, with a half-million-strong alumni network spanning the globe, our degrees unlock doors to any industry, anywhere.  


There will be many more of these events to come but for now, we hope you will consider attending one or more of the above events.

PTG Welcome Back Coffee & Catch-Up - 7th October


The Secondary PTG would like to invite parents new and old to a brief online catch-up to welcome our new families and see old friends.  We will have a few quick get-to-know-you games, a chat and a chance to ask and answer questions for our new parents.  More details will be sent by email next week.

We look forward to seeing you.

Event Details

Date: Thursday 7th October 

Time: 3pm

Dates for your Diary

News & Events

Tuesday 28th September: Parent Partnership Workshop Series: Window into Virtual Learning, 8.30am, For parents of all year groups

Tuesday 28th September: An Introduction to the Russell Group & Applying to UK Universities, 4pm – 5pm, online event

Thursday 30th September: Novelicious - the PTG Book Club, anyone welcome, 9.30am

Thursday 30th September:   Studying in Singapore, 3pm-4pm, online event

Tuesday 5th October: Parents Partnership Workshop: Digital Safety - How to support your child in making safer choices when online, For parents of all year groups

Thursday 7th October: The University of Cambridge, 3pm-4pm, online event

Thursday 7th October: PTG Welcome Back Coffee & Catch-Up, from 3pm, parents new and old are welcome

Tuesday 12th October: Boston University, 5pm-6pm, online event

Thursday 14th October:  The University of Toronto, 3pm-4pm, online event 


Wish my best wishes for a safe and restful weekend

Kind regards,

Sean O’Neill

Head Teacher - Secondary Campus