This week our Senior Spotlight is on AISG highflier Javin Liu. This captain of APAC Basketball and APAC Volleyball, first chair in APAC Orchestra and Student Coordinator of the Crossroads community service organization has won both the 2019 APAC Athlete of the Year and APAC Performer of the Year awards and will be the co-emcee of this year's graduation ceremony. We caught up with Javin between IB exams to talk about his 15 years at AISG, the impact his teachers have had on his life, and his big upcoming move to Boston.
How long have you been at AISG?
I've been here since P3, that's a full 15 years! It's a long time and a lot has changed since I started at AISG. When I started, Preschool was in the Garden Hotel and then, afterward, we moved to Er Sha Campus. I remember playing with my friends on the playground and I really miss those times. Now, most of those people have left. A lot of my classmates over the years have been part of families that move around to different places for work, so a lot of students come and go. We had a lot more free time back then and we even had recess! We could just leave right after school and go home, which is very different than now. AISG has taught me so much since then.
What other AISG organizations and activities have you been in?
I'm first chair in Orchestra, Captain of the Varsity Volleyball Team, Captain of the Varsity Basketball Team, Student Coordinator of Crossroads, which is a community service organization and used to be in Varsity Badminton and Swim Team. With athletics, activities, and IB classes it’s been a busy 4 years, which is actually the main reason I stopped playing badminton. Badminton was my main sport but felt that playing on a team would help me grow more and become a better person, so I focused on team sports instead.
Have any of your teachers made an impact on your life?
Yeah of course. AISG and the teachers here have taught me so much. They've taught me much more than just academics, you know? Like not only did they teach us how to succeed academically, they also taught us how to be great in other aspects. Like Mr. Elliot, or Ms. Zhu, or Mr. Tomassen… all of my coaches and teachers. They're like my parents, they taught me life lessons and really allowed me to expand mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally.
Ms. Lin, of course, taught me how to be a successful strings player, but other than that she also made sure I always kept on track and stayed organized. Whether it was keeping on me about my practice schedules, or our class schedules, or even stuff outside of Orchestra. She would always care about whether I remembered to bring what I needed for the day and really helped strengthen my organization skills. Before 6th grade, I would always lose my stuff! My things would be all over the place and my mom would always have to come to the lost and found and find stuff for me. But Ms. Lin was pretty strict with me about that and really helped me to become more organized, which has been amazing.
Ms. Zhu is our Crossroads teacher coordinator and has helped me realize what it takes to be a successful leader. When I first became the Student Coordinator I didn't really know how to lead. I thought "oh yeah, I have this title now and everyone is going to listen to me!" but that’s really not how it works. After a while, I realized people weren't listening at all. Ms. Zhu stepped in and taught me how to be a successful coordinator. She said, "You have to provide clear actions to persuade the underclassman to understand what you want to get done". So then I actually dug into it and spent more time and put more effort into leading the group. I put together some plans and was able to run some successful events and slowly the other people in our organization started to understand me and respect me as a leader.
I became captain of the volleyball team as a Junior and at that time I was younger than everyone else in my class and, of course, much younger than the senior class. A lot of people didn’t think that was such a good idea or didn’t think that I was capable of being a leader because of my age. That put a lot of pressure on me because I felt that no one would listen to me. Mr. Tomassen was able to coach me through it and give me some tips about how to lead, like how to be loud, vocal, and confident. Also to always comfort and be positive, not to focus on the negative with my teammates. Always encourage them to do their best. I followed his tips and used them both in practices and in games and bit by bit our team started to shape up and this year we got second place in the APAC Finals! It brought a huge sense of pride and accomplishment.
All of my teachers and coaches have been so great here, but Mr. Elliot has probably had the biggest impact on my life. He's coached me in basketball since 8th grade. One thing that's really special about Mr. Elliot is that he has this unique mindset and attitude. He's kind of like a parent - not only does he teach us how to play a great game of basketball, but also gives a lot of life lessons to help us be more successful both on and off of the court. He would always give us inspiring quotes from different people and challenge us to see why they were important to us as a basketball team and as individuals. He would always provide a clear path to success. It's not only about how to be successful in basketball that he's teaching, but how to be a successful person. I have so much more discipline now because of Mr. Elliot. He's always encouraged me to never give up. Like when I'm tired during a game, I still need to defend. I can't just give up. These ideas apply to so much more than just basketball, like when I'm doing homework or prepping for a test, I can't just give in. I have to push through. Mr. Elliot is the one who taught me that.
At the APAC Awards this year, you won both Athlete of the Year and Performer of the Year. Do you prefer athletics or music?
That's a hard question. I get more enjoyment and feel more accomplished through athletics than I do music, but music helps me to relax and de-stress, which is also really important and has proved very useful throughout High School. They definitely both have their benefits.
Favorite AISG memories?
So many. In Preschool and Kindergarten, I remember playing with those tiny F-1 type bicycles on campus. We loved the small, low to the ground ones because they were faster. The problem was that there was only two and I remember each time the recess bell would ring me and my friend would race out to get first dibs on the bikes before anyone else could get them. I also have good memories of the Easter egg hunts on campus.
In Middle school, I was a little too into gaming (laughing) so any good memories I have from Middle School relate to video games. We used to have so much fun playing video games on the bus after school and I remember the High Schoolers always telling us to keep it down and to be quiet.
Now, in High School, I spend more time with my friends. They support me when I need it and I support them when they need it. So many memories of us going out and having fun at amusement parks and movie theaters. But the most important memories are with my teammates. We've learned how to trust each other and how to communicate with each other in high-pressure situations. We've learned how to support each other and how to comfort each other when it matters most. That is one of the biggest takeaways from AISG. The first-hand experience that a well-developed team can get through difficult things together. If your team isn't well developed, it can all fall apart. My interactions with my teammates are some of the best memories I've had in my entire life.
I will be majoring in Economics and Business Management at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. I'm really excited to start this program because it provides us with three real-world working opportunities. So during my time at Northeastern, I will get experience working for high-end companies before I even graduate. I'm both excited and nervous for college life and to live in the states. I actually wasn’t sure if I would make it into Northeastern so I had planned on going to another school, but I'm super happy with the final result. Also really nervous about surviving the cold weather in Boston!
Congratulations to Javin and the rest of the Class of 2019 for all that they have accomplished during their High School careers! Click "Read more" at the bottom of this page to see the full list of 100+ colleges and universities that our Senior Rams have been accepted into this year.