Reflections on my International School Years

Jason Philip Yoong
3 min readJul 23, 2018

Garden International School (GIS) Kuala Lumpur Alumni Relations reached out asking me to share a few thoughts about my student experience (I attended from Year 6 to 9.5 aka Grade 5 to 8.5 for US schools). I took a few days to reflect on my time there and what I would say, so I wanted to share here. Original article here.

GIS: Jason, what was it about GIS that makes you light up?

That is a question I get a lot when meeting people and the topic of upbringing comes up because I always bring up GIS. Even though my time was short, 1999 to 2001 (Year 6 to Year 9.5), it was impactful because of the diversity I was exposed to. Diversity in school subjects: Design Tech, World History, French, ICT, Music, PE. Diversity in extracurricular activities: Model United Nations (which I forced one of my best friends, Shaun Tan, to join with me), Basketball, Chess (I am currently on the Amazon Chess Team), FOBISIA (edited note: stands for “The Federation of British International Schools in Asia” and is essentially a mini-Olympics), Saxophone (I secretly took lessons between classes, not sure if my friends knew), inter-house competitions. Diversity in the faculty. And most of all, diversity from my classmates. This taught me to be open-minded, flexible, and curious. Traits that have been beneficial to my career.

GIS: I am interested in the question, how do you create more experiences that light up your memories and change who you are? What are the techniques and tactics?

Such a question cannot have a simple answer. I do not know the answer, but I may know pieces of it. To start: seek diverse perspectives (there are always two sides to a coin), never stop learning new things, find work-life harmony, learn to embrace and deal with ambiguity, respectfully challenge decisions when you disagree, be present and enjoy the now.

These are all things I developed at GIS and the credit goes to the diverse experience the school provided. A huge thank you to every faculty and classmate that I came in contact with. Last but not least, in true Game of Thrones fashion, I have to restate my loyalty to House Crest (edited note: GIS had four Houses, similar to those in Harry Potter, see below).

To depth and curiosity,
Jason Philip Yoong (proud GIS Alum)

The four great Houses of GIS. Coincidentally, my best friends were all House Crest.

House Crest (Yellow). House Sultan (Red). House Chancellor (Green). House Queen (Blue).

And now, some embarrassing photos I found thanks to the power of this Internet thing.

Year 7 (youngest year to be in “secondary school”)
Year 8 (welcome color photography)
The height of my basketball career (very certain I was rocking those incredibly designed KOBE TWO — see that jersey number #MambaOut)

That’s enough for now =D