Category Archives: Issues & Debates

Diversity in International Schools

If you have the desire and ability to send your children to an international school, what kind of school would you send them to?

I guess many international schools we have come across are from the west, like from the United Kingdom, the States, Canada, Australia etc. And often when you look at the leadership teams of the school, you find that they are mostly white people, which is understandable, because of, I guess, the country of origin of these schools. But the thing is, these schools are now very commonly seen in everywhere else in the world. According to the international school database, there are 65 of them in Singapore, an Asian country, the map of where those schools located on the island looks something like that:

Screenshot from

And there are 180 international schools in Malaysia, 48 in Tokyo, Japan, more than 200 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some of these schools have been there for half a decade, yes maybe around or more than 50 years. Go look at their leaderships and teachers, what do you see?

I want to discuss diversity today, it’s my intention starting this writing. I want to see more diversity in those international schools, not all mostly white and/or European, in those schools. There is nothing wrong with them as individuals, they are probably all great at their job (, and it’s arguably why they are all still there).

But if you look at the students’ nationality, they are so diverse. Many of these schools have more than 80 or even 100 of students from different countries, speaking more than 60 or even 80 different languages at home! Then you look at the teachers and leaders, I can easily find like 65% of them from the UK, maybe another 15% from Australia, 10% from the US, and maybe 10% of local AND other nationalities. I made up these numbers, no school is so comfortable stating all these on their websites, they will tell you they have staff from 80 different nationals too, but the top tiers are mostly white, “and as it ‘goes down’ (to admins, cleaning staff etc), their skins get darker” – quoting a teacher I came across. Mind you, he is White. I noticed that, but was never comfortable pointing that out openly. Now I do that. I do that often, in front of other staff and students too.

Next week I’m involved in a recruitment of a boarding houseparent positions. All final shortlisted candidates are white except one, and the only exception is a European. I see the problems, I see that those who are able to present themselves so well are mostly the people from the same regions, at the same time have English as their first language, and are very familiar with what we are looking for. It’s hard for many others to be seen and get into it in the first place. But my point is not that, because that takes time to change, IF changes are wanted.

My point is, going back to my first question, is this a supply demand phenomenon? Is it because those parents who send their kids, and those kids who get to choose their schools (yes, many of them do), want their teachers to be from those regions, White, presenting themselves that way? Are parents more likely to send their kids to those schools? Are kids more likely to select those schools, than say, a school with all Asian in their leadership and teaching community?

If the answer is positive, why so?

What are the other deciding factors?






也许没有选择意味着我们过着更充实的生活,与那些在保护良好的环境中长大、总是有选择的特权,并且可以过着非常悠闲的生活(如果他们愿意 )? 他们往往有点脆弱,他们有时害怕接受挑战,也不能很好地应对挫折。 毕竟他们大部分时间都在自己的舒适区,要什么有什么,不需要面对挫折。 显然,这并不适用于每一个出生在那种家庭的孩子。 但是试着注意你周围的人,你有观察到任何规律?

然而这就是现实。 这意味着你在充分地生活、尝试、学习、奋斗,最大限度地发挥你的能力和每一个细胞。 这难道不是一种更值得过更有价值的生活,远比那种要什么有什么的生活来的更值得? 当你竭尽全力以实现目标时,感觉不是很棒吗? 这不也让你成为一个更强大、更伟大的人吗?


也许你认为我只是想让你感觉好些,这些都很阿Q的自我安慰。 但这在世界许多地方都可以观察到,当某个少数群体在某些资源或机会(选择)上被剥夺时,他们会更加努力地奋斗,他们变得越来越强大。 这可以是某个种族、性别认同、社会经济阶层、能力不同的人等。任何一群人都是如此,我给他例子,像在马来西亚生活的少数民族…

最后他告诉我,“是的!也许这是真的。我注意到去年获得奖学金的大多数人都是 LGBTQ+,即使他们没有公开宣布,但我猜他们内心深处, 像你说的那样坚强,不像顺性别者那样生活,这很难,你知道的。但是是的,他们可以取得更大的成就”

Documentary: Take your pills: Xanax (2022)

Watch Take Your Pills: Xanax | Netflix Official Site
Netflix Documentary: Take your pills: Xanax

Xanax, an anti-anxiety that I’m very familiar with from the 7 year working in a psychiatric clinic. I was excited to see this title showing up in the list of recommended shows as I was trying to find something to watch over the weekend, after waking up really late from watching the World Cup (Qatar 2022).

It consists of most things I already know, and many things that I’ve explained to many laypersons over the years, I definitely recommend this to everyone who experiences anxiety, who knows someone who’s taking anti-anxiety to watch this (essentially everyone), and think about it… Unfortunately it’s not the most “interesting” documentary with a twisting story-line, but it’s important to learn how we are often fed certain drugs (and nicely called medicine) when there are many things else we can do to cope with it, might be harder and sometimes more costly, but without any side effects, dependence, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.

My stance is clear, I don’t mean to not take any pills for anxiety, because sometimes the anxiety can be so strong that it’s almost impossible for anyone to deal with, leave alone function, so this is when pills like Xanax can play a role, but when you’re feeling better, definitely do not just believe that you can just keep popping the pill into your mouth the next time when it happens, instead, learn about anxiety, your triggers, how you can cope with it the next time it happens, and practise those coping techniques. It takes a while, but you can ultimately depend on yourself and nothing else…

Feel free to read about my older writings on medication.

A conversation on Transgender Athletes

I wonder if any of you are like me, who sometimes wonder about transgender athletes competing in major sport events, especially when I’m watching Olympics, All England (badminton) or the very recent SEA games. I stumbled across this conversation led by one of my favourite authors Malcolm Gladwell and thought maybe you would enjoy being educated on this topic and learn what have been and could be done in the area!

Book: The Stranger (1942)

Sending your mother to care home when she’s old, not crying in your mother’s funeral, does these mean that you are not a human, mean that you are more likely to be a murderer?

The fact that you don’t cry because you don’t feel sad during the funeral, or the fact that you don’t even bother to pretend (to cry), which is worse?

A 17 years old teenager thinks many people just pretend, because this is what society expects. He wonders if the care and gratitude he has for his parents who were abusive was real or simply “to match the societal norm.” He wonders how he’d react or act when his parents die.

He read this book for his IB English class. He found a lot of comfort from the book, and is now reading it a second time.

But he also sees that the book isn’t all negative, “it’s about having the freedom to choose what you want to focus on, knowing that death will be here anytime for everyone.” So in the book, the narrator could do so even when he’s facing a death penalty and his appeal might be rejected.

This is a 20th century literature classic, written by French author Albert Camus in 1942. He was awarded Nobel prize of Literature at the age of 44 years. I don’t normally read novel these days (because I get addicted to them and can’t stop myself reading), but the fact that it’s only 120 pages and sounded really interesting the way the student talked about it, I finished it in two nights, on the Libby app. (Unfortunately this one hasn’t got an audio version).

The Stranger, by Albert Camus, captured on the Libby app.

Striving in reality

He told me he’s jealous of those kids whose parents can afford to let them go any school they want, including top universities in the world, the parents just need to “make some donations” and then the kids are there attending those schools.

“I worked my ass off to be here. Them? They are here because they were born into a rich family. So privileged”

Likewise, another girl told me “my roommate just flew back home last night, why? Because she misses home. That’s so rotten spoilt. I wouldn’t do that, but I’d like to have that option. But no I don’t. I miss my mum a lot, and I’m still here.”

Indeed, what we really want, is that freedom to choose, but often we don’t. It’s when we don’t have options that we work very hard, that we are always ready for any opportunities, that we fully utilise whatever we have, that we maximise our potentials, don’t we?

Maybe not having the options means we are living a fuller life, compared to those who grow up in a very well-protected environment, always have the privileges to choose, and can have a very laid-back life (should they wish)? Often they are kind of fragile, they don’t take up challenges and can’t respond to setback well. They are mostly in their comfort zone all their lives. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone born into that kind of family. But try to notice people around you, did you observe any pattern?

Yet this is reality. This means you are fully living, trying, learning, striving, maximising your ability and every cells. Isn’t this a life worth living, a lot more than a life you are given most of your needs and wants? Doesn’t it feel great when you work your ass off to achieve your goals? Doesn’t this make you a stronger and greater person too?

Who knows if you were born into that family and had all these options, you would be “spoilt rotten” and wouldn’t make any great choice and fully living like you do now?

Maybe you think I’m just trying to make you feel better. But this is observed in many places in the world, when a certain minority group is being deprived for some resources or opportunities (options), they try and strive harder, they become stronger and greater. This can be a certain ethnicity, gender identity, socio-economic class, differently-abled persons etc.. Any group of people really.

In the end he told me, “yeah! Maybe that’s true. I noticed most of the people who received the scholarships last year were those LGBTQ+, even when they don’t publicly announce it, but I guess inside, they are stronger like you said living unlike the cisgender, it’s hard, you know. But yeah they can achieve greater things”