Friday, 27 September 2013

ABRSM High Scorers’ Concert 2013

On Saturday 21st September BIS hosted the 3rd annual High Scorers’ Concert.  Twenty two of the top scoring students from our June practical exam session were invited to perform one of the pieces from their exam in front of a large and appreciative audience of family and friends.
The evening included several firsts: Nerida Evans, an external candidate, who was our first ever professional  performance diploma pass in HCMC, Ji Min Oh, our first oboe candidate and also Adya Rao whose  143 out of 150 was the highest mark yet awarded in our 5 years of hosting these exams.
The evening also featured wonderful performances from AP2 students Kim Jewell, Linh Dan and San San Pham on violin, Thanh Tran on clarinet and Celestine Koh, Megan Lee and Ji Soo Chung on piano.
Please check the Music Department website for more photos from early next week on
If you would like to take an ABRSM exam on any instrument next year, please check the ABRSM website for information of syllabus requirements, dates and deadlines at
Ian Alexander
Music Teacher and ABRSM Representative, HCMC


The newly named Helping Hands Club has got off to a roaring start this year by having 18 students visit Thien Phuoc for our first two visits. As usual we received a great welcome of cheers and hugs from our old friends at the centre - we hadn't seen them since the horse riding day we held in June.

Our students split up into smaller groups and started various activities such as drawing, reading and playing with toys and games. Others set up the soft playroom and got some children rolling around and laughing in this fun and safe zone.

As well as a fantastic set of new volunteer students, Helping Hands Club also has several new teacher volunteers. The Thien Phuoc kids are always so grateful for our visits, and Sister Kim Chi, who runs the centre, sends special thanks to all the teachers, parents and students who make the effort to bring some fun and friendship there on a regular basis. Let's also not forget that this is the longest running service club at BIS, and these relationships really bring us together with our community. Here's looking forward to our weekly visits and our Christmas party at the end of term.

Tim English
Mathematics Teacher

Friday, 20 September 2013

From the Head Teacher

 PTG Wine & Cheese Party
My thanks this week go to Cindy Kazzi, our PTG Social Secretary, for hosting yesterday’s marvelous evening of good food and good company in her home.  It was good to mingle with parents in such a convivial social setting and all who attended are surely grateful to Cindy and the PTG committee for organising this year’s event.

Universities—tours and BIS alumnae success
With our Year 13 students preparing for their university and college applications, we host a number of events that bring the universities to An Phu and into BIS.  The UK’s Sterling Group lectures this week were well attended and gave students an opportunity to interact with top professors and researchers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Following on next week, we focus stateside with the AEO Vietnam Tour visiting our campus on Monday.

On Wednesday, Yale—NUS College representatives visit BIS to talk to students about the unique opportunity for a Yale education in Singapore, where our very own BIS alumna Annette Wu is studying Global Affairs.

Look out for our new advertisement in the local magazines early next month, featuring two BIS alumnae who scored an impressive 44 points in their IB Diploma this year, placing them among the top 0.7% of the world’s IB Diploma Programme students.  Ashley Lee will be reading Economics and Management at world renowned Oxford University and Rosa Chung  has a place to read Business Administration and Film at the prestigious University of Southern California.

Richard Dyer
Head Teacher

IB World Student Conference 2013

In the penultimate week of the summer holidays four of our IB Diploma students flew to Hong Kong to participate in an IB World Student Conference, the first within the Asia region. The theme of this conference was, ‘iResponsibility: Explore how we engage in the online world’ and students from IB schools across the globe took part. Our students spent five days attending lectures at Hong Kong University on topics such as visual literacy, surviving in a digital age and the power of social media. They also spent time in workshop groups with students from other schools and cultures. In these sessions they debated the information that they had heard and developed CAS projects for use within their home schools through a structured ‘iPlan’. They also discussed topics such as ‘Slacktivism’ (supporting an issue by ‘retweeting’ or ‘liking’ it) and ‘Hacktivism’ for social change. It was a busy week, with much of their free time taken up with iPlanning and developing a performance for a ‘Culture show’, however we still found time to explore Hong Kong, visiting Ocean Park and Lamma Island. The students returned tired but inspired by the lectures and keen to raise awareness of the topics that they covered. Some of these topics will now be discussed in ILS and may be put into action through their CAS projects. This was a fantastic opportunity and allowed them to form important global connections with other IB Diploma students.
Ms Lauren Binnington, Head of Sixth Form

“Towards the end of last summer, I went along to the fourth and final IBWSC of 2013 which was held in Hong Kong.
Generally, over the course of the week, we listened to sessions led by experts on topics such as corruption in China and the use of internet for evangelization because of the overall theme of the conference. We also took part in interactive workshops which I found intriguing because I had never experienced anything like that before.
We also had to come up with iPlan presentations which were to be presented on the final night of the conference. My group decided that littering was a huge issue, so we proposed some ideas to help solve the problem of littering.
In terms of accommodation, we stayed in the residential halls of HKU. It was nice to have a roommate, though we did stay up talking until the next morning every night… On top of that, I was able to meet people from over 20 countries, and made friends with quite a few of them. We talked about the IB, discussed future career options as well as universities, but we also had fun being silly together!
So overall, I got so much out of this trip. From learning how to be safe on the online world to developing my lacking social skills - it was truly an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait for next year’s IBWSC!”
 Michelle Kwok, 12/13A

“The IB World Student Conference was honestly a phenomenal, unforgettable and enjoyable experience. I’m really grateful for the opportunity of travelling overseas to Hong Kong and participating in the conference. It varied from a range of team-building activities to get to know your groups to multiple inspirational speeches from valued figures to visits to an amusement park.
There were at least one hundred and fifty other IB students from twenty-six different countries so it was very diverse. People came from all over the world such as Canada, Zimbabwe, USA, Kazakhstan, Australia, Fiji and China. Meeting and bonding with all these people was amazing since everyone was so different yet so friendly. All the talks from all the people about iResponsibility were remarkable and extremely informative too. Not only that, we came up with potential CAS projects which was very useful. We also got to do some site-seeing around Hong Kong too. Personally I really enjoyed the whole trip as I made an abundant amount of new friends, learnt information about the social media today and initiated a CAS project for my upcoming years of being in IB. I was surrounded by intellectual students and experienced teachers who were all willing to give advice about anything and everything too. We stayed in the university with roommates we had never met before which I found rather exciting.  Overall, it was a lovely experience and I’m hoping to attend at least one of the three conferences next summer.”
Trang Nguyen, 12/13C

“If I have to describe the IB World Student’s Conference in one word, it would be mind-blowing! To experience such a fun and engaging conference was a great privilege for me, since I was able to interact with IB students from over 25 different countries and gaining new knowledge along the way. The theme of this year’s conference was iResponsibility, which applied to us all since we all use some sort of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for communication and connection. However, most of us are aware that social media could be used as a vehicle for change if responsible, hence the name, iResponsibility. Through this conference, I was able to gain ideas from leading expert speakers, participants and planned out a related project with my Global Action Team (GAT). I believe this can be implemented across BIS. My favourite moment of the conference would be Global Culture Night, enjoying performances from a variety of countries and cultures, particularly those funky African drummers. Most of all, the friends that I made and the knowledge that I gained will be the things that are cherished the most about the conference.” - Nghia Mai, 12/13H

Moon Festival

CULTURE of tết trung thu

Tết Trung Thu is called for the Moon Festival. This year it is taking place on Thursday 19th September. The best place in VietNam to observe Tết Trung Thu is Hoi An Ancient Town. Lanterns are hang up along the town, in front of the shops and the River “ Bon” is covered in floating lanterns. However in Ho Chi Minh City, the city people are interested in the lantern street located in Luong Nhu Hoc street – district 5. It has been set up since the Moon Festival 2001 and is becoming famous now. Most of stands have been run by the Chinese people and so it is called “Phố đèn lồng người Hoa” (“ China lantern street”).  Vietnamese people of all ages enjoy walking and taking pictures with various traditional and modern lanterns.

At BIS Year 7 students are making paper lanterns in class , watching a film called “sự tích rước đèn trung thu” (A legend of Lantern Parade)  and learning popular words about the Moon Festival such as Bánh Trung Thu (Moon cakes), Lồng đèn (lantern) , Rước đèn (lantern parade) and Múa lân (lion dance)

Wishing “TRUNG THU VUI VẺ” ( Happy Moon Festival) to everyone!

Mai Le
Vietnamese Department


Cancer for Kids
Less than 20% of children diagnosed with cancer in Vietnam survive. That leaves the rest – a staggering 80% - with unreasonably short lives. Currently, it may seem like a hopeless case for the hundreds of unfortunate children.
But do you have a few hours to make a difference in the life of a child?
We, the volunteers in the Cancer for Kids club, do. Our spirit and determination is the heart and soul of this group of about 25. No matter how little an hour a week seems, altogether, what we give and devote can change the experience of an illness for a family.
Every week after school on Wednesdays, the room is buzzing with discussions and plans for the next charity event to be held at school in order to raise awareness to help these patients. The club was formed in the academic year of 2011/2012 and since then several school events were put into action, successfully delivering their message. Notable occasions from last year included Movember, where some teachers grew their moustaches for a month and students voted for the best one, also being able to shave it off themselves at the end of November; the Cancer Ball held at the Intercontinental, where adults could enjoy a fancy night out for a good cause; and finally the unforgettable Beat the Teacher! competition. All raised an incredible amount of money and were used to help provide doctors with a better education by sending them overseas.
On the 18th of September, 5 students, Mrs Nielsen and Mr Pollicutt made our first visit of this academic year to the Oncology hospital in Binh Thanh district. For many of us, it was our first time visiting the cancer ward and we excitedly left the school. It took us some time to reach our final destination: the ball room where the Moon Festival would be celebrated in the hospital. As we climbed the stairs and walked through hallways past various wards, though we were told to expect this, we couldn’t help but be disappointed at the quality of the facilities and how patients and family members alike were sitting and lying on different parts around the hospital. There were people preparing for a dance or play but on the other side of the room were young children looking half the size of their age. We spent about 30 minutes talking to them in our limited Vietnamese as well as playing with them and teaching them high fives. Despite their terminal illnesses, it was incredibly inspiring that they were so energetic and cheerful.
Our aim remains the same: to help these children with our very best efforts. Remembering the children’s dimpled smiles and toothy grins make us more motivated to contribute to the club. Recalling the unhygienic services and crowdedness of the hospitals will compel us to spread the word. Knowing what is right and what should be done will see that our achievements continue. Being only teenagers, what we can do seems limited, but the thoughts and morale that we have will ensure the accomplishment of our aims.

Ji Soo Chung 10N

Friday, 13 September 2013

From the Head Teacher

Parent Cards

At the secondary campus, we use Parent Identification Cards only to identify adults on site as legitimate visitors and do not require that these cards are used to allow parents to take their children off site at the end of the day.  Secondary students are free to leave the campus at the end of their lessons or scheduled activities.
For this reason, there is little value in updating the Secondary parent cards with new student photographs each year.
We do ask, however, that parents wear their cards while on site.  This makes identification much simpler and allows guards and teachers to challenge those without a visible card.  This will do much to keep all children safe while on the campus.  Lanyards and card holders are available free of charge from Reception.

Canteen Photo Cards

Children new to the school are issued with blank canteen cards on arrival while we print the photo cards.  The new cards will be ready for collection next week.  Students can take their blank cards to the canteen office in the Underground to exchange for a photo card at lunchtimes.  The value on the card will be transferred immediately to the new card.

If parents wish to check what their children are spending their money on, a printout of the meals purchased can also be obtained from the canteen office.


Our extra-curricular activities programme started this week and I am delighted to see how many of our students are involved in community service and action, sports, the arts, and pursuits that are not so easily categorised.   At the start of this week we had the following participation figures:

Y7 = 87% sign up
Y8 = 85% sign up
Y9 = 87% sign up
Y10 = 87% sign up
Y11 = 93% sign up
Y12 = 92% sign up
Y13 = 87% sign up

As parents, do use CHQ to check your child’s attendance at their allocated activities and make sure you know what activities they are doing.  Do also talk to them – find out what they have been up to before, after and between lessons.

Richard Dyer
Head Teacher

Eat your heart out, Tiger Mom!

Playful Dolphin Dads make children smarter AND happier, says top parenting expert 

This article from the Daily Mail.
PUBLISHED: 14:27 GMT, 7 August 2013

Harvard-educated researcher Shawn Achor is one of the world's leading experts on the connection between happiness and success.  He says that the 'tiger' approach of working hard to achieve happiness is 'scientifically backward', and parents should focus on helping kids be positive instead

A leading happiness researcher has claimed that playful dolphins parents are a better model for parents than take-no-prisoners tigers.  Shawn Achor, who teaches at Wharton School of Business, believes that the dolphin's combination of sociability and playfulness makes kids smarter and happier than criticism, the New York Daily News reports. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom author Amy Chan famously advocated no TV and no tolerance for grades below 'A' in her 2011 bestseller. But Mr Achor believes that building a positive mental state is the real key to a child's success.  'Most companies and schools follow this formula: if you work harder, you will be more successful, and then you will be happy,' he writes. 'This formula is scientifically backward.'

Instead, he believes that parents should focus on first building positive psychology for their kids so that success will follow. His research has been validated by a study in the Asian American Journal of Psychology, which showed that a tiger parenting profile was associated with lower GPA and less of a sense of family obligation that children who had supportive parents.

Another study shows that tiger kids also face more academic pressure, more depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of alienation. Mr Achor believes in making learning fun.  So rather than waiting to reward a kid for finishing his homework, for example, he recommends letting him wear his favourite pyjamas while he studies. He also suggests modelling optimism to children by aiming for a ratio of five positive interactions to every negative one. Mr Achor says that being positive isn't about being delusional.  He suggests using 'rational optimism' to examine multiple options and navigate among them to pick the best. When facing challenges, he says that reminding them of past achievements - such as giving them a trophy before a competition -  can help them stay positive and focused. 

And instead of being overly harsh, he recommends setting kids up for success. So, he says, a parent who wants her child to exercise more should hide the remote and put her in sneakers so she's ready to get moving.  He believes that parents should consciously working at being happier.  'While it takes more cognitive processing to be happier, the more that you do these positive habits, the more that you switch your default,' he says


1. A positive, rationally optimistic attitude will help you realistically assess the options for your child to achieve the best possible outcome. 
2. Smile - it causes a mirroring reaction in others. 
3. Remind your child of past achievements, for example by giving him a trophy, to help him face future challenges. 
4. Try to maintain a ration of five positive interactions for every one negative one. 
5. Model optimism every day by giving thanks at the dinner table. 
6. Set your child up for success. If you want her to exercise more, try hiding the TV remote and putting her sneakers by the door.