Author - AIS Admin

How Creativity, Activity, Service IB Projects Prepare Students for University

A bare, multi-color back slips into a river made with dollops of vivid blues and greens.

A striking red horizon enjambs the soothing water, suggesting turmoil. “I drew myself trapped in a river, where past and present coexist, constantly collid[ing with] each other and confus[ing] me,” explains artist Hyun Jin. She painted 11 works which were displayed alongside those of 10 other students as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Australia International School (AIS).

By focusing on more than simply the technical aspects of art, the IB program develops artists who can “tell their own story,” Hyun Jin tells Saigoneer. The mentorship, rigor and freedom of expression the project demands allow her to experiment and use a variety of materials, learning about the possibilities of art beyond narrow classroom settings. Such an understanding has not only prepared her for university (she has been accepted at the prestigious UAL Camberwell and London College of Communication as well as Kingston University London and Ontario College of Art and Design University) but also success as an adult able to connect ideas across disciplines.

To attain an IB Diploma, students must complete three requirements: take theory of knowledge (TOK) courses and pass a formal assessment; write an extended essay of up to 4,000 words; and complete a creativity, activity, service (CAS) project. This last element, in particular, gives students great freedom to explore their unique passions. Students like Hyun Jin, her classmate Jonathan — who is working on film — and others working with audio, chose to immerse themselves in fine arts. Each student has an individual mentor to guide them through the self-directed work. Art Program Coordinator Nigel Hall says the arrangement is unique in the way it encourages “a personal interview with yourself to find out what you want to say as an artist.”

The CAS projects foster engagement with more than just creative subjects, however. Many students work on projects related to more conventional academic fields. For example, Jerry, a final-year student, decided to explore his interest in tangible international problem solving by leading a Model UN program. Representatives from five international schools in Saigon gather to represent different countries and debate an issue, hoping to pass a resolution after hours of deliberation. Participants not only gain a firm understanding of global issues and perspectives but learn applicable problem-solving, cooperation, public speaking and research skills. Jerry expects the experience will give him an advantage when he attends the London School of Economics in the fall.

“The most important part is the reflection portion,” Jerry explains. CAS projects are ultimately assessed through regular written reflections. To monitor progress and think critically about major events and accomplishments, students must complete short essays regularly during the two-year process.

Milly, a Vietnamese student who transferred from a local high school to AIS for the university preparation offered by the IB program, focused her CAS project on the Global Issues Network (GIN) conference held at AIS this past spring. Students from all grades formed different groups to discuss diverse subjects — such as LGTBQ issues, sustainability or animal trafficking — and developed creative ways to present their ideas and insights to one another including posters, plays and games. Reflecting on the event, Milly says that she learned a great deal about time management, organization, leadership and learning to work with people from different backgrounds.

The students that spoke with Saigoneer all stressed that a major reason for choosing AIS was because of the IB curriculum, which readies them for life after high school, away from home at foreign universities. From very tangible skills such as knowing how to write thesis-driven essays reliant on significant research and a mastery of numerous subjects to more ephemeral soft skills such as teamwork and confidence in one’s ability, they know that whatever they encounter in university is likely to be something they’ve already faced before.

AIS believes in producing well-rounded students who not only are able to get top marks on standardized assessments but also become active life-long learners with an eye for community involvement. The IB program exemplifies this aim through the balance of traditional classroom work required for the TOK examinations and the more open CAS projects. Even the essay allows for a mingling of conventional and modern learning outcomes by applying a strict methodology to any subject that interests them. Milly, for example, investigated antibiotic-resistant bacteria and traditional medicine employing the types of research and experiment procedures she will use when studying biology at university in Australia next year.

The projects often produce breakthroughs in how the students see and engage with the outside world. When showing us a selection of her paintings, some of which have won major prizes, Hyun Jin explained how her depictions of the plight of Korean comfort women gave her a unique opportunity to learn more about and reflect on her country’s culture and her place within it.

“In public school, these activities never existed,” Milly says when asked if she would recommend her peers in Vietnam consider attending AIS for the IB program. The CAS projects specifically help inspire and motivate students, engage new areas of their brains and perhaps, most importantly, discover the subjects, skills and activities they might pursue for the rest of their lives.

Source: Saigoneer



The AIS Primary Years Programme Exhibition

The AIS Primary Years Programme Exhibition is a unique feature of learning for our Year 6 students. It encourages them in their final year of PYP, to carry out individual/group research in order to engage in real-life issues. Students inquire into many different interests, which result in different actions that will benefit the AIS community and beyond.

This year the PYP Exhibition will take place on 29 – 30 May. We look forward to sharing our students’ learning journey in their attempts to make the world a better place.


AIS Year 13 Graduation Assembly

Friday 26 April 2019, marked the official graduation of the class of 2018-2019 at a formal school assembly attended by their fellow students, family and friends. Graduation is one of life’s great rites of passage – it marks the end of a thirteen-year journey through primary, middle and secondary school and the beginning of tertiary study or work. Like most rites of passage, there were elements of ritual and celebration in what has become AIS tradition: the students processing into the Auditorium; the series of speeches, farewell messages, and musical items; and their departure to a standing ovation from their schoolmates and teachers. The emcee for the event was Mr Mark Vella, Deputy Executive Principal and Head of Secondary. Proceedings commenced with addresses from the Executive Principal, Dr Roderick Crouch and the Australian Consul-General, Ms Julianne Cowley. Musical items included a solo performance on flute by Yuna Jeong, accompanied by Minsu Seo on piano, and by The Onion Band, featuring lead singers Milly Nguyen and Sue Bui. Chloe Choi and Hyun Jin Seo then spoke on behalf of the graduating class. They were followed by Head Boy, Blair Kelly, and Head Girl, Seung Yoon Jung, who gave heartfelt, and at times emotional, tributes to their parents and teachers. Finally, Head of Senior School and IB Coordinator, Mr Andy Cartlidge, delivered an ode to Year 13. In what was a very Dr Seuss-like poem, Mr Cartlidge remarkably managed to mention the name of every single Year 13 student – and all in rhyming verse. Then came the highlight of the ceremony; the presentation of graduation certificates, followed by the traditional ‘turning of the tassel’ and hat toss. This moment signified the successful culmination of many years of hard work. The Year 13 class of 2018-2019 are no longer school students. Rather, they are young men and women about to embark on a new and exciting phase in their life, whether here in Vietnam or at an overseas university. We wish them all the best for their upcoming IB examinations and trust that their time at AIS has prepared them well and that their futures are indeed bright.

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AIS Year 13 Graduation Full Album


AIS Saigon’s Students Flourish at Annual Art Exhibition

The annual art exhibition of the Australian International School in Ho Chi Minh City started with much excitement. The art exhibition by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Visual Arts students is an exhibition of over 100 pieces of studio work that AIS’ Year 13 students have created over a two year period.

AIS Students Accepted into Top Global Art Universities
Many of these bright young talents have already been accepted into some of the world’s best art universities. One of the students, Hyun Jin Seo, has been accepted to study at the University of Arts, London (UAL) Camberwell, and London College of Communication campuses. UAL ranks second in the world for Arts and Design. Other students already have firm offers from Goldsmiths College UAL, London; Lassalle College, Vancouver; University of New South Wales, Australia; OCAD University, Toronto; and Osaka University, Japan. Furthermore, three students have been accepted with scholarships to The Savannah College of Art and Design, Australian International School’s partner Arts University, which has campuses in Hong Kong, Atlanta, Savannah and Lacoste. This year’s exhibition is a collection of pieces that provide an insight into the personal experiences and struggles the students face. Many of the students’ work has a ‘root’ – whether it be the struggle to understand their own cultural identity, battles with societal pressures or the necessity to adapt and survive in a foreign country at a young age.


The Inspiration Behind the Art Students’ Collections at AIS Saigon
A gifted and artistic student at AIS, William Pham, walks through his pieces and explains that his art collection tells a story. Each piece represents a different aspect of himself, and together they show how he has grown. His piece named ‘The Bunny’ is a toy bunny wrapped in chains. It depicts the stress and anger he felt when he was younger. He would use the bunny as a punching bag and eventually it became the root of his problems, containing all the horrible feelings he experienced. William explains the bunny is caged because sometimes emotions can take too much control of us; they need to be harnessed so they cannot fill us up and spill out. Later in his collection, he has created a beautiful digital print of a butterfly. This piece explores the idea of experiencing freedom by accepting imperfections. The butterfly has asymmetrical wings to portray that we are all different. He explains that it is a gift to be able to see the beauty in flaws – they are unique in all of us.


Hyun Jin Seo states that her pieces revolve around the theme of “confusions in identity as a third culture kid”. They represent her frustrations as she is unable to adapt to Korean traditions and culture due to her long life overseas. Her art collection follows her journey of identity and existence. They express her development in understanding her root is different from other Koreans, as well as the battle to identify where she actually belongs. Her pieces depict her struggle of moving away and wishing to receive love from her parents, her inability to adapt to Korean culture, and how she has tried to avoid reality. Her work ‘Circus Bear’ explores the connection between herself and the aforementioned bear. It represents her experiences of being accused by Korean people of not understanding Korean culture and she compares this to circus bears being mistreated by humans. All her pieces are displayed purposefully to tell a distinctive, personal story.

Another imaginative AIS student, Annie Tran, presents an art collection that is immediately eye-catching with loud, vibrant colours of hot pinks, bright blues, and sunny yellows. However, looking at the pieces more closely, it’s clear to see these colours provide a stark contrast to what the collection is really about – self-harm and drug abuse. Annie explains her work is inspired by a Japanese subculture ‘Yami-Kawaii’, which focuses on turning horrid subjects into beautiful images. Her art collection revolves around “how fun it is to die.” The piece ‘Herion (Heroine) Type-XXX’ is a huge syringe filled with Barbie dolls that resemble humans and depicts the act of humans trying to find temporary happiness before spiraling into self-induced death. Her work entitled ‘Ecstasy’ depicts a young school girl surrounded by dangerous drugs. She explains that the drugs used throughout her art collection are dragging people into a virtual world, hence why ‘Ecstasy’ is created digitally.

The Art Exhibition’s Opening Night at AIS in Saigon’s District 2
The annual art exhibition of the Australian International School in Ho Chi Minh City was a fantastic event. AIS, one of the city’s leading international schools based in Saigon’s District 2, did a wonderful job of hosting the exhibition’s opening night. Many family members, friends, teachers and members of the public turned up to show their support for these talented and expressive art students. It is clear to see that AIS has dedicated teachers and high-end facilities to enable students to receive the support they need so that they can reach their full potential. In addition, the AIS curriculum is well structured and catered towards tending to the students’ developmental needs. The art exhibition is a reminder that school is a place where students begin to learn who they are and where strong bonds and memories are created.

AIS’s fantastic art exhibition will remain on display for the rest of the school year on the 3rd floor of the school’s Thu Thiem campus in Saigon’s District 2.

Source: citypassguide


AIS International Day 2019

International Day celebrations on Friday 19th April marked an important event in the way we celebrate many nationalities within our AIS community.

Students were engaged in many different opportunities for them to learn about other cultures; whether it be through sports, dances, food or geographical facts. Such activities helped students increase their awareness of other people in other parts of the word. This not only let students ‘focus on the similarities, instead of our differences’ (quote from a student), it also enabled them develop respect and understanding for one another.

Big thank you to the PFG for their help in organising the stalls and to all teachers and students who helped in any way to make this event a successful one.

*The AIS International Day album


AIS Sprint Invitational 2019

AIS hosted the AIS Sprint Invitational at AIS Sport Centre. Over 380 competitors from across the international school communities (AIS, BIS, ISHCM, SSIS, ABC IS, EIS, BVIS) and 2 clubs (KidZone Sharks, Alabang Country Club Gators) of Ho Chi Minh city. There was an amazing event from start to finish! Congratulations to AIS team, we finished 3rd in overall team points but we ranked 1st in the medal tally.


Individual winners:

6 & Under Boys: David Sawa (43 points – AIS); Cosme L Vanderlynden (35 points – BIS); Bailey Fowler (28 points – ISHCM).

6 & Under Girls: Lucy Tran (39 points – ISHCM); Hannah White (33 points – ABC IS); Anna Thuy Berg (27 points – BIS).

7-8 Boys: Mees Janssen (36 points – ISHCM); Aiden Ku (32 points – EIS); Akilan Pandian (27 points-27 points – BIS.

7-8 Girls: Sao Mai Pham (41 points – BIS); Fei Fei Wang (37 points – EIS); Ena Ohashi (33 points – BIS).

9-10 Boys: Richard Ngo (43 points – AIS); NamYoon Kang (39 points – ISHCM); Devin You (29 points – ISHCM).

 9-10 Girls: Kim Ly Doan (45 points – AIS); Vi Lam Dinh (36 points – EIS); Pepper Hutchinson (32 points – ISHCM).

11-12 Boys: Ryan Lower (41points – BIS); Harry Park (37 points – BIS); Krystof Hajek (35 points – EIS).

11-12 Girls: Seung Hyun Kang (43 points – ISHCM); Tran, Quynh An (32 points – BIS; Heather White (32 points – ABC IS).

13-14 Boys: Ruben White (45 points – ABC IS); Shubhankar Patki (36 points – BIS); Simon Hajek (31 points – EIS).

13-14 Girls: Daria Sulek (45 points – AIS); Jacey Mecham (35 points – SSIS); Tanuska Bora (31 points – AIS). Combined Team: BIS (11.10 points); ISHCM (9.35 points); AIS (8.96 points).

Special thanks to our sponsors and our Titans Swim Committee.


Congratulations To AIS Young Artists For Being Accepted Into Some Of The World’s Best Arts Universities

We have an annual exhibition of artwork by our International Baccalaureate Diploma Visual Arts students. This year 11 students will exhibit over 100 pieces of studio work in the school’s gallery area. The exhibition is the culmination of two year’s work and is curated by the students themselves as an integral part of the Visual Arts component of their IB. Collectively the work represents 100’s of hours of dedication and is testimony to the creativity and personal vision of these young artists many of whom have already been accepted into some of the world’s best arts universities:

• SEO, Hyun Jin has been accepted to Camberwell College of Arts, the London College of Communication, Kingston university London and OCAD.
• WU, Yu Lun (Parker) has been accepted to Goldsmiths, University of London UK.
• TRAN, Annie has been accepted to Lasalle College Vancouver Canada.
• PHAM, Minh Thuy has been accepted to University New South Wales, Australia.
• NAM, Juhee has been accepted to OCAD, Toronto, Canada.
• BABA, Yu has been accepted to Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.

Camberwell College of Arts (a constituent college of the University of the Arts London – UAL) and Goldsmiths College, two of the most renowned arts universities in the UK and UAL which is ranked 2nd in the world for art and design.
Lasalle College is a Singapore founded art university with a strong international reputation.
Osaka university is one of the most prestigious universities in Japan ranked 3rd best university in Japan.
OCAD is Canada’s oldest and largest educational institute of art and design.
UNSW is one of Australia’s top universities and ranked 45th in the world.

Offers will also be made to several of these students April 11th & 12th by SCAD our partner university.

A product of Hyun Jin SEO

A product of Jimin CHOI

A product of Juhee NAM

A product of Parker WU


Back To The Basics: AIS Zooms In On The Im Importance Of Good Teachers

Close your eyes and take a trip down memory lane. Think back to the most memorable teachers you’ve ever had and you’ll likely think of those who left an emotional imprint on you—be it positive or negative. As the popular adage holds: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel”.
This rings true for the teaching methods at Australian International School in Ho Chi Minh City. According to Principal Dr Roderick Crouch or, as people call him, “ Dr Rod”, “The most important thing a school can do is put the right teachers in front of students”.

Many of AIS’ more than 100 teachers come from Australia and New Zealand, more than 30% hold Master’s degrees, all are properly accredited. AIS is intent on bringing talented teachers into the classroom and into the lives of their students. Their Australian standardised education approach to education means treating each person as an individual and providing well-rounded opportunities in and out of the classroom.
Treating Students as Individuals at AIS
When it comes to teacher recruitment, Dr Rod explains, “We look for people who understand children and know how to adapt their teaching for the circumstances they are in”.
One of the questions he asks teachers seeking employment at the school is (applicants, take note) “whether they have been a teacher for 10 years” or “whether they have taught one year ten times”. In other words, do they use the same approach with every student or do they have the ability to adapt to various students’ needs?


He believes that teachers don’t just teach content, they teach people. Adding that, “you have to support students and you have to find the different ways that they learn and, therefore, what makes them ‘tick’. How can you motivate them and inspire them?”
Ramya Balbon, a final-year student who was born in the Philippines and speaks two languages, agrees with Dr Rod. According to Balbon, “a teacher is someone who is able to evoke a student’s passion and curiosity about the world”.
The Gifter Education Approach Prepares Students for the Real World
This is exactly the approach used by Mrs Beth Wills, one of the newest teachers at the school. A “gifter”, she says, is “someone who allows you to discover knowledge for yourself”. Mrs Wills was recruited recently from New Zealand. Inspired by her mother to become a teacher, she has now spent more than 16 years in this profession. She describes her teaching philosophy using the words of Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”.

Seung Yoon Jung, who was born in South Korea, speaks two languages, and plans on studying Anthropology, said she values teachers who “care not only for their students’ academic successes but also the students’ success in their lives and growth as a person.”
Mr. Ben Armstrong, who began as a maths and sciences teacher and has now become the current Deputy Principal of Secondary School, has been using this very teaching method for the seven years he’s been employed at the school.

Teaching students to be prepared for university life means giving them access to well-rounded opportunities. Although AIS lauds impressive state-of-the-art facilities in sports, science, and design, he tells us that it comes down to the quality of the teaching. “Each one of our teachers got into education for the love it”.

The Australian International School (AIS) encourages and supports academic excellence across all areas of the curriculum and is committed to nurturing each student’s individual academic talents.
AIS is pleased to offer a limited number of Academic Scholarships for new students entering Years 7 – 12 for the 2019-2020 Academic Year. These scholarships are from 10% to 50% of the annual tuition fee, and are awarded for up to seven years, provided the student maintains an exemplary academic and behavioural record.

Don’t hesitate to contact us: 19006940 or and to find out more!



Music Notes

The Music department has been a hive of activity over the past few weeks. We have instigated a new practice routine which means that all students have to spend at least 15 minutes a week practising their instruments. Whilst this has only been going a short time, it is amazing to see the difference in confidence and ability of pupils.There have been many performance opportunities – the concert band performed for the opening of the GIN Conference playing a song of hope, for a conference that was looking at the catalyst for change. We received a warm welcome and I can only thank Mr Masterton and his team of Senior Students who created such an accepting and positive environment for us in which to play. The Rock Band and the Jazz Band performed at Vincom Mega Mall in Thao Dien to promote AIS ahead of Open Day. We drew a large crowd and the students played exceptionally well. They seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly and I hope this is the start of more concerts in and around the local community. Finally many students performed at Open Day. We even had the debut performance from our newly formed Acapella group which Ms Candy has been leading. They were so well received they ended up performing three times!

The students performing never fail to impress me and I am very excited about the direction that the ensembles at AIS are going. The students are hard-working and diligently turn up to rehearsals week in and week out. I can only thank them for being so great and also thank you as parents for instilling in them the importance of continued work towards a common goal! If you would like to have any of our ensembles play at events you have or you think that there are places we should be playing then please let us know!

Looking ahead, the AIS Battle of the Bands is due to take place on 5 April. This will be a competition for any members of the student body who can put together a band and perform in front of the whole school. The winners of this competition will go on to compete against other international schools across HCMC at a live event at the Hard Rock Café on 15 May. If you are an aspiring rock star, singer or songwriter, then see Mr Burstow and sign up for the event of the year!!

Colin Burstow


How To Keep Your Child Motivated In Reading

Recently we enjoyed our annual Book Week where the children took part in the extreme reading competition, shopped at the Book Fair, dressed up as their favourite book characters and took part in a range of activities that all promoted reading. Many parents contacted me and said what a wonderful experience it was and how much they loved getting involved as a family. If you would like to keep your child motivated in their reading progress and love of books please find some helpful tips below:

Listen to your child read


When your child brings their reading book home from school, have them read to you every day. If they are finding the reading hard have them read it again. Or read it to them, and then have them try to read it themselves. Studies show that this kind of repeated oral reading makes children better readers.

Read with and to your child

Reading to children exposes them to rich vocabulary and can have positive impacts on their language, intelligence, and later literacy achievement. What should you read to them? There are so many wonderful children’s books. Visit your local library or look online, and you can get an armful of adventure.

Have them tell you a “story”

One great way to introduce children to literacy is to take their dictation. Have them recount an experience or make up a story. A typical first story may be something like, “I like fish. I like my sister. I like grandpa.” Write it as it is being told, and then read it aloud. Point at the words when you read them, or point at them when your child is trying to read the story.

Practise phonics (letter names and their sounds)

 At AIS we teach phonics, and parents can teach them, too. Follow the advice from your child’s class teach them on which sounds and words to focus on and make the time your child practices with you fun and rewarding. We recommend keeping the learning time short so that your child does not get too tired or frustrated.

Promote writing

Literacy involves reading and writing. Having books and magazines available for your child is a good idea, but it’s also helpful to have pencils, crayons, markers, and paper. Encourage your child to write.

Ask questions

When your child reads, ask them to retell the story or information. If it’s a story, ask who it was about and what happened. If it’s an informational text, have your child explain what it was about and how it worked, or what its parts were.

Make reading a regular activity in your home

Make reading a part of your daily life, and children will learn to love it. Set aside some time when everyone turns off the TV and the web and does nothing but read. The point is to make reading a regular enjoyable part of your family routine.

Happy reading!

Rachel Perkins – Primary and Kindergarten Principal