Alumni Testimonials

Ilana Sumka

Ilana Sumka

Spending four years at ISK was like being a full-time student in the United Nations. My entire view on life was transformed and expanded to include people from every part of the world.

I loved being in small classes with people from across the globe. When an event happened on an international level, we would bring it into our daily lives over lunch-time conversations, engaging in serious conversations ranging from the first Gulf War to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Now I work in the field of conflict transformation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have ISK to thank for providing a solid foundation for seeking understanding and bridge-building across diverse cultures and communities.

Class of 1993
Jerusalem, Israel
Executive Director, www.EncounterPrograms.org

Josh Mott

Josh MottI attended the International School of Kenya from 1978-1980. I was in 5th and 6th grades, and although it was only a brief time, these were without question my favorite years of primary school. My ongoing interests in international health were of course were stimulated by my childhood years in Nigeria and Kenya, and by the rich mix of friends that I made at ISK. I am still in contact with several of my ISK friends, and one of the persons who attended ISK when I did now actually works with me at WHO-Europe!

I minored in Greek Classics at The Ohio State University--and it was my teacher at ISK, Mrs Konandreas in 6th grade, that planted the seeds of this interest in classical literature. I remember sitting enamored as she passionately read Homer's "The Iliad" to us, chapter by chapter, day by day, in 1979. Indeed I am reading it to my son now, and it makes me smile to see his similar fascination with what may be the greatest story ever told. Mrs. Konandreas then had us read to her Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and I can still see and hear the giggles of of my classmates sitting in a circle while we took turns reading. Finally she had us memorize several poems of our choosing. I chose "The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost, and also "Jabberwocky," by Lewis Carroll (the latter of which I use to annoy my family members at any opportunity). This of course is just a small vignette from a broader educational experience that I received during my short time at ISK. However these important memories, and the great friends that I made, remain an important part of me to this day.

Attended 1979 – 1980
Nairobi, Kenya
Epidemiologist, United States Center for Disease Control

Angela Lee

Angela LeeI attended ISK from 1977-1989 - that's Grades 1-12! Not too many can claim that distinction. I graduated valedictorian with both the high school diploma and IB.

My father had a permanent contract with UNEP, so while all my classmates traipsed the world with their diplomat parents, the world traipsed to me! Not that I didn't also travel - our family went on home leave every two years to China.

Having all the travel and intercultural experience was a definite boost to getting into college. I went to Yale, majoring in Biology. The IB diploma gave me a few credits head start. I then did two years of cell biology research before discovering my true passion - Chinese medicine. I finished my Master's in Oriental Medicine, and have been practicing as an acupuncturist/herbalist/taichi instructor in White Plains, NY for 12 years.

My intercultural experiences as well as a background in both Chinese culture and Western science, have all served me very well in my chosen profession.

Thanks to ISK for a fantastic grounding in academic and life skills!

Class of 1989
New York, USA
Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Taichi Instructor

Roopal Thaker

Roopal ThakerIn 2008, on a beautiful lakeshore high in the Karakoram Mountains near the borders of China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, I found myself reflecting on my ISK experience. I was in the midst of a year of solo travel through Asia, making my way through a dozen countries on a small budget and doing my utmost to stay off the beaten track. I realized that ISK had helped to facilitate many of my most incredible, fulfilling life experiences.

ISK opened my eyes to global diversity and the unity of humanity. The school helped me develop my passion for social justice and gain knowledge of local and global issues. ISK’s academic curriculum provided the foundation for my future career as a policy analyst committed to professional excellence and effective solutions to public problems. My teachers often became friends and mentors, challenging me to aim high and not be discouraged by life’s obstacles. Some of my strongest lifelong friendships were forged through cafeteria lunches, IB homework, after school activities, and field trips to communities across Kenya. As I made my way through Asia, I was constantly struck by how those relationships simply picked up where they left off as I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in 10 to 15 years. To steal a quote from my French teacher, thank you ISK for helping me become “une citoyenne du monde!”

Class of 1993
Ottawa, Canada
Self Employed Public Policy Professional

Long Westerlund

Long WesterlundThe education I received at ISK added immeasurably to my development, both personally and professionally. ISK builds leaders and concentrates confidence by pushing the edges of a student's capabilities. I had an IB art class with Liza Mackay, and she would always challenge me "show me something new" every single day. The gauntlet was always there -- innovate, bring your genius, be your best.

This type of training prepared me for a career in law, in software engineering, in finance, in management consulting. Year's later, when I was leading software teams, I would repeat the same mantra, "show me something new." The faculty is world-class, acclimating me to the academic rigors I would later face at the College of William and Mary and Duke's Fuqua School of Business. The general learning environment is simply first class -- the student lives, breathes and becomes the lesson. To prospective students, I would say, if you are lucky enough to attend, Go...and show me something new.

Class of 1988
Virginia, USA
Independent Management Consultant

Laura Schlesinger Minor

Laura MinorI entered the American Community School because my mother worked there. My sisters and I had attended Kenyan schools when we first arrived. After graduating from Standard 7 at Kilimani School, I didn't want to go to a girls high school. The Community School had just started offering teacher-led high school classes. The upper classes were still all offered by correspondence.

I had 4 1/2 of the best years of my life at NIS. I made lifelong friends from around the world and my commitment to teaching cultural competence and experiencing different cultures stems from those days. I have memories of school trips which were terrific (senior class trip to Mombasa on the school bus stands out). I loved Serendipity Days - offered once a quarter. The day was broken into learning segments with guest speakers, films, trips and more and we chose our schedule. The education was top notch although the individual attention did not prepare me for computer-graded classes at a university with 200 or more students in a single class. The school has a rich history and hundreds of alums who remember it fondly.

Class of 1973
Connecticut, USA
Staff Development Director; Wheeler Clinic, Inc.

Historical Note: ISK was founded in 1967 as the American Community School. It became Nairobi International School (NIS) in 1970 and then changed its name again to International School of Kenya (ISK) in 1976.

Prashant Soergaard

Prashant SoergaardLooking back, my time at ISK is definitely one of the most memorable periods in my life. ISK allowed me to see how I can interact in a global environment with people from all over the world and create impact.

I still remember the small insightful remarks that my teachers used to tell me, such as the importance of culture or the context of the economic system world we live in. I started realizing my leadership potential, and how I can succeed in what I set my mind to.

I didn't reflect so much about it at the time, but looking back I can say it was really insightful and the learning I will keep for the rest of my life. I can say that ISK for me was both about learning relevant academics that were highly relevant to be successful in university and in my further career, but more importantly it was a great life-learning for me to become more confident and clear about my future. It was a unique experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

Class of 2006
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Global Sales & Marketing Director, AIESEC International

Soha Ehsani

Soha EhsaniSome of my fondest memories are from ISK - the friends, activities and classes made the experience more than just a high school. I still refer to our field trips to Loita Hills as the richest cultural experience of my lifetime so far. The rigorous and engaging curriculum helped me understand analytic frameworks that I still use in my professional career - I know this is true for my peers, which is pleasantly surprising considering the variety of life choices that each of us have made.

As an alumnus of ISK, I have a global network of friends, all of whom are borne from the same fabric weaved from threads of ethics, appreciation for cultural diversity and passion to perform as leaders in a global village.

Class of 2004
Nairobi, Kenya
Investment Analyst, Grassroots Business Fund

Warren Buford

Warren BufordISK changed my life forever. I feel lucky to have attended and graduated from there. The combination of a diverse and smart student body, a beautiful campus in a fascinating and emerging country, and dedicated and passionate teachers who have traveled the world makes for an unforgettable educational experience. It was also ISK's emphasis on community in all senses of the word that left an impression.

There was as much learning inside the classroom as outside, whether through unforgettable field trips like Mt Kenya, service within Nairobi and across Africa, extracurricular activities such as sports and MUN, or social interaction and probing conversation with interesting classmates and teachers. I look back on my time at ISK with tremendous pride.

Class of 1993
Virginia, USA
Executive Director, University of Virginia School of Architecture Foundation

Aziz Meruani

I attended ISK from grade 1 to 12, following in my brother Amyn's footsteps and leaving a trail for my sister, Raana. We have 36 collective years of ISK education! The ability to quickly make friends was a norm as many classmates were only there for two years and then off to wherever their parents took them. The teachers were more permanent as were a few other classmates that completed 12 years at ISK. The three of us even had the same teachers throughout our time at ISK.

The ISK experience was rounded out by the annual class trips. Whether sitting on the beach in Mombasa, drinking fresh cows blood at a Masai boma or struggling to climb Mt. Kenya at 4am with mediocre boots and clothing, every trip made for a lifetime of memories.

I have more contact with friends from ISK than any other part of my life. With the help of my fellow classmates, Lars Eriksen and David Wolf, we started an e-mail newsletter and then later a web site, rafiki.org to keep alumni in touch. Now there are sites like Classmates.com, Facebook, Google Groups, LinkedIn, etc. and of course ISK's own alumni portal to keep us all connected.

The campus evolved over the years too. Buildings were added, fields were groomed from the coffee plantation, fences and gates were installed, buses were added, computers were upgraded, etc. Despite all the physical changes, I am certain the ISK Lion's spirit lives on. I look forward to visiting to see all the changes, and possibly offering the same experience to my children.

ISK Class of 1990
Toronto, Canada
Business Analyst at Donovan Data Systems

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