Reminiscences of an IB education

May 11, 2021

Hae In Kim is a Grade 2 homeroom teacher at CAIS and as a student studied the IB curriculum which will be available for the final two years of high school students at CAIS starting academic year 2021/22.

We interviewed Hae In about her experience with IB education and how the impact it had on her professional growth and her subsequent career at CAIS.

Which IB courses have you completed?

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Describe your IBDP experience in one word.


How was your IB exam?

The IB exam is an experience you will never forget. It was like a running a marathon – absolutely exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time. Exhausting, because the exam was 3 weeks long and you would have 2-3 exams every day. Exhilarating, because you would be on the home stretch towards completing the program. For 3 weeks, you would pour out everything you’d learned in the 2 years of the program which exhausted you mentally and physically, but your hard work would be rewarded.

What made you move from Hong Kong to South Korea and back to Hong Kong?

I came to Hong Kong when I was 6 years old and absolutely loved my experience here. Sadly, our family had to move back to Korea under various circumstances when I was in grade 10. My teachers back then were an important influence on my personal growth. They were role models I would always look up to and inspired me to pursue a career in education. Upon graduation from university, God provided the opportunity for me to apply as a teacher at CAIS. Here I am today, teaching second grade in the school that I love dearly.

Share your experience on the academic culture of doing the IB program?

One thing that stood out to me regarding the IB program is that it is very well structured and organized. When I first started the program, I was able to see the big picture of what the 2 years would look like as well as the details of each subject and each project/assignment. This allowed me to have a clear direction towards having a successful experience. The structure was also very flexible, because I found a lot of freedom and room for creativity. The IB program allows you to explore your own passions and talents, meaning that you make each experience your own. It is definitely rigorous and challenging, but when you find your pace and the methods that work for you, you are positioned to be successful.

What role did your parents play as you worked on the program? How was the working relationship between school and parents?

I went to a boarding school, so my parents were not physically present with me. However, they provided me with the emotional and spiritual support that I needed, which helped me to push forward when I had no motivation or strength to keep going. They reminded me that IB was not everything in my life and helped me to understand the importance of resting and taking care of myself.

The school provided relevant information regarding the IB program for the parents (before and during the program) which helped them understand how they could best support their children.

How did your school promote critical thinking and open-mindedness along with that of the Christian faith?

The teachers established a safe environment for us to ask hard questions and to challenge each other’s thinking in a respectful and loving manner. They helped us to establish our identity in Christ as well as biblical values, which allowed us to separate our emotions from our academic progress. Our value and identity did not depend on our grades nor on the fact that our ideas were questioned and challenged by others. This allowed us to freely discuss various topics in ways that developed our analytical, communication and problem-solving skills. I believe that this is a ley feature of the IB program, because it equipped us in knowledge and skills for us to academically engage with the world while bringing our faith into this interaction.

How were you able to cultivate strong collaborative peer relationships during the IB program? How or why is this important?

Cultivating a strong collaborative peer relationship is one of the most important sources of support and success in the IB program. Your peers know exactly what you are going through, because they are also going through it as well. They can empathize with you and support you in ways that teachers and parents cannot. You can also create “academic synergy” with your peers, as they are also good resources and teachers. This is especially helpful with peers who have different classes.

Another important aspect is to build collaborative relationships with students who are right above your grade level and right below your grade level. Your “seniors” will have countless information and advice to give to you as they experienced everything that you are experiencing in advance. You can do the same for the students below your grade level.

Biggest challenge when studying IBDP?

Time management was the biggest challenge for me. In IB, you have 6 subjects plus TOK (Theory of Knowledge), CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service), and the EE (Extended Essay). You also need to have a life outside of school to take care of yourself and find time to socialize. On top of that, you also need to go through the process of college application. You need to learn how to manage your time so that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and you can push forward with your academics and college application. It is also important to know your priorities and values.

In closing, what’s your advice for students who are contemplating taking the IB program offered at CAIS?

The IB program is challenging, but definitely rewarding and worthwhile. I suggest students to develop self-discipline skills irrespective of the curriculum that they are pursuing. These are important skills that we all need to master for both personal and professional growth.