This week, Miku Makino gives some insight as to her time at AISG. A member of the Global Issues Network, who joined Model United Nations and the student-run newspaper the Beacon, Miku came to Guangzhou five years ago from Japan. Let's see what challenges she faced, how she overcame them, and where she's headed.
With the end of the school year, can you tell us was there any moment or event that most impacted you?
Thinking about this school year, the moment that comes to my mind is the most recent Chinese New Year celebration, which was the last time I was on AISG's campus. I helped organize and run some parts of the event while simultaneously enjoying my time being around my friends. This event is an important part of my journey as a student at AISG; when I first came to Guangzhou, I was much more reserved and was struggling to get used to a new country. But at this event, I was able to embrace the opportunity to get involved in the community, both as a student and as an individual.
Think of your years at AISG: how did the IB curriculum affect your feelings towards education?
The IB curriculum definitely played a big role in my education. I remember there was a point last year in IB1 where my mental health was not the best, but now I can see it was a period of growth. IB really challenged me to push myself and work hard in all dimensions, and it also helped me see my own strengths and areas of improvement. Though at times the workload and difficulty of the content were very stressful, it really exercised my diligence towards education.
Was there a teacher that helped you become the person you are today? Who was it and how did they affect you?
Ms. Dean! She was my English teacher for all four years of my High School career and I cannot be grateful enough to have had her as my teacher. With English being my second language, I originally did not really enjoy reading or writing. I especially had difficulty with public speaking and speaking up in class in general. When I started having English classes with Ms. Dean, she showed me how intriguing and powerful language can be. Without her help, I would not have been able to gather the courage to make speeches, join Model United Nations, join The Beacon, and more. The support I received from Ms. Dean definitely shaped me to become a more independent learner.
What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment the past school year?
I think my biggest accomplishment was the trip I went on for Global Issues Network (GIN) to Shaoguan. I have been a member of GIN since Grade 9, but this year's trip was the most memorable for me as it was my last. Being the trip leader for the last time, this experience taught me how important it is to work together with my peers to accomplish a common goal and it showed me the growth I underwent as a student. I had a great time there and am confident that the next leaders will keep up the work.
What were your favorite extracurricular activities (sports, arts, etc) and how did they help shape the student you became?
My favorite extracurriculars were probably community service activities, especially GIN. I met so many new friends including both AISG students and local Chinese students, and also received abundant leadership experience. The trips we went were definitely the highlight of High School for me. Further, although this one was outside of school, I also enjoyed volunteering at a summer camp for the last three years. I got to spend my summers with children, which I didn't think I would enjoy! All of these activities really challenged me to step out of my comfort zone.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the disruption to on-campus classes, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?
It has been really hard to deal with all of this. The biggest challenge for me was managing my academics. In the beginning, it was challenging to get used to online lessons and study from my computer screen. To overcome this, I handwrote my own study guides and tried to practice solving questions as much as possible. I also made a new way to organize and prioritize my work, which helped make things easier.
What did you miss the most being away from campus?
I was never able to return, and will not be able to for the time being. I miss talking to my friends the most! Texting and video calling are just not the same as real interactions, and I haven't seen my friends since January. I also miss the physical part of going to campus, since I've been mostly staying inside for the past few months.
What were your feelings when you heard you could return to campus? How do you find the new regulations in place to keep everyone safe?
I was relieved to see that some students could return to campus again and that there were new regulations to protect the health of everyone at school. Health definitely comes first, so it was nice to see the efforts to help keep everyone safe. But, at the same time, I do have some mixed emotions because my friends and I were unable to return, so we are definitely sad that our senior year is gone. I definitely have to revisit AISG in the future to see the completed construction sometime.
How did you celebrate the end of year/graduation?
I joined graduation virtually, and also video called my friends that are in different countries, as well as my father back in China to celebrate together. I have also had fruitful discussions with Mr. Timmerman about redemption opportunities for students like us who couldn't physically attend graduation, so I looked forward to that. Other than this, I bought myself a bunch of food to eat at home as my own celebration.
What plans did you have for summer? Will you go anywhere or do anything special? If so, what will it be?
My plans for the summer mostly got erased given this pandemic, but I am still hoping I can do some traveling and reunite with my friends around the world if and when everything settles. My plan to go on a graduation trip with my two AISG friends was also canceled, so I hope we can make up for that somehow! For now, I'll be staying in Japan.
Where will you be going to college and what are you looking forward to the most?
Though plans are very fluid at the moment, I am planning to attend Boston University to study economics. I'm looking forward to having more freedom and independence to try different things, including classes, extracurriculars, or hobbies in general. I also know a handful of friends from around the world that are also going to the Boston area, so I'm excited to reunite with them during my time at college.
What, at AISG, has prepared you for your adult future?
In my five years at AISG, I've learned how important it is to speak up for what I believe in. Through the different types of assignments and extracurricular activities, AISG nurtured my independence and perseverance to voice my own opinions. I will certainly carry this forward to my adult future to keep pursuing the things I feel passionate about.
What accomplishments do you dream to achieve in the next five years and how will your education at AISG help you achieve these?
Well, first is to finish college. Though I am a bit scared about the next four years, I am confident that the skills I gained at AISG—like time management, organization, communication—will help me get through university. I will also be apart from family, but just like I did at AISG, I hope I can find peers and communities that will be my source of support. I don't have any strict plans for the next five years, but I hope I can find the one thing I want to pursue in the future.
AISG is proud of Miku, her accomplishments and perseverance in her five years with us. We look foward to following and supporting her path as an AISG Alumni.
Once a Ram, Always a Ram!