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Hyun-Koon J., Class of 2014 visits AIS from South Korea

Hyun Koon (Thomas) Joo, Class of 2014 alumnus, visited us on the 23 of May 2023 from South Korea and took the opportunity to catch up with teachers who had a profound influence during his formative years. He mentioned that his time in AIS held some of his most cherished memories, and wanted the chance to experience that environment again. We were happy to welcome him back!

What year did you graduate from AIS? And how long did you study at AIS?

I graduated from AIS, where I studied from 8th grade through high school, in either 2013 or 2014 – I’m afraid the exact year eludes me as so much time has passed. All I can say for certain is that I spent five years at AIS.

What is your favorite memory of AIS?

There are numerous fond memories from my time at AIS, but if I were to pick a few, one would certainly be my saxophone solo in front of the Disney Castle, as the wood wind section leader of the concert band in my junior year. It was an experience that went beyond the ordinary scope of school activities, making it all the more special. Another notable memory would be my Adventure Week trip to India. Even now, I find myself longing for the breathtaking experience of beholding the Taj Mahal.

Who was your favorite teacher, and why?

There were several influential people at AIS, and it’s a bit challenging to pick just one. Mr. Ho, who taught Chinese, had a profound impact on my current career path. Despite my hard work, I sometimes felt disheartened when my efforts didn’t meet the expectations of my teachers. Mr. Ho helped me realize the importance of consistency and diligence over momentary high scores. Mr. Wing, the High School Principal, was also extraordinary. He took great care in understanding the individual needs and strengths of each student, including myself, and treated everyone fairly. I am grateful to both of them.

What extracurriculars were you involved in? And how did you balance your time between your studies and play?

I was involved in almost all music-related activities in school, often in a leading role. While I don’t currently work in the music industry, I believe that music, whether through instruments or vocals, can communicate emotions more powerfully than language. To me, balance was unnecessary. Sure, it’s essential to study, but it’s through activities like music and sports that students create memorable high school experiences. It’s okay to study hard, but sometimes non-academic experiences can be just as valuable.

What are you currently working as of now? And where are you based?

After majoring in History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and earning a master’s degree in History Education at Seoul National University (SNU) in Korea, I’m planning to complete a Teacher Education Program. Before that, however, I’d love to share my experiences with students at an international school if it is possible.

What lessons did you take away from AIS that helped guide you through your journey?

One of the most critical lessons I learned from AIS is that high school isn’t the end of the world. Many schools in Hong Kong let students continuously compete, often to meet parental expectations or to get into a good college. But looking back, when I was in AIS, I think I had enjoyed my high school life a bit more leisurely. In hindsight, the times I shared with my friends were far more precious than any A Grade paper I received at AIS.

“Enjoy your time in school, try new things, and share experiences with your friends. School should not merely be a stepping stone to college but a compass that guides your life.”

What advice can you give to our current students at AIS, especially during these unique times?

While I believe that the results of study are crucial, I hope that students can be more than just Student A or B. Enjoy your time in school, try new things, and share experiences with your friends. School should not merely be a stepping stone to college but a compass that guides your life.

As you know, we’ve started this outreach to AIS alumni recently. What are you hoping to gain (or contribute) to the network?

I think it would be beneficial if we could gather alumni to observe classes, share their learnings from their time at AIS, and have Q&A sessions.

AIS ALUMNI OUTREACH

We’re always aiming to reconnect with our strong alumni community. Please stay tuned for more alumni stories and events. If you are interested in visiting us on campus, or to participate in our Alumni Outreach blog, feel free to email us!