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Rebuilding For The Future

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Photo by Hyo Rim Yoo

Photo by Hyo Rim Yoo

Photo by Hyo Rim Yoo

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What is the first thing you notice when you enter school everyday? Is it the cheerful kids? The academic atmosphere? The UNIS spirit? I assume they are all possibilities (other than the last one) but it’s rather the new makeover that UNIS is getting – the newly erected fences surrounding multiple areas of the school.

If you haven’t seen the development plan for the new campus construction, here is the video of 3D rendition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JupGRMLZdfg

Photo by Hyo Rim Yoo

 

I was fortunate enough to interview Dr. Barder about the new campus – its design, its goals, and its process. The project started 5 years ago and he made it clear that the goal of the new campus, from the very beginning, was to be designed and driven by the program within the school. “Nothing was built because we wanted to build some new fancy building; everything has its purpose,” Dr. Barder said.

Like many of my peers, somewhere deep inside, I was a disbeliever. I gave the school the benefit of the doubt by saying that it was to improve the facilities, it had to happen someday, and we were just unlucky. Nonetheless, there was a part of me feeling a sense of unfairness and doubt towards the cause. But once I started to converse with Dr. Barder, this doubt, at least the latter part of it, was gone very quickly.

In the interview, he gave some examples about how the new construction plan was made. Firstly, they knew that they needed a new cafeteria and so the new facility was one part of the improvement that should be created, the other being the new chef, Mr. Adam Betz. Moreover, the field was planned to get artificial turf and lights so our athletes can play even in the dark and won’t get affected by the rain that Vietnam is infamous for. The new playground was planned to be made with its purpose of incentivizing both younger and older students to go and have fun doing physical activities. A lot of facilities are freezing cold in the winter because we can’t heat it up.

Photo by Hyo Rim Yoo

What really sold me on this, however, was a project that had nothing to do with us. Dr. Barder additionally said that when the construction is done in the elementary school area, they are going to use old rooms as a project-based classrooms. Rooms where younger kids can study and conduct science experiments, product design projects, and more. Not only are they building new facilities, but also the school planned on using old ones to improve the experience of younger kids in a field that was only for middle and high school prior to this.

Sadly, many of you and I – who are reading this article wouldn’t be able to view the whole campus in our high school life. I think this is something what we are all concerned about: the amount of time taken to complete this project. Dr. Barder agreed with this too, saying that the challenge was to do this fairly large project during the school day. This unfortunately meant that we did have to live with fences for a while. The primary cause of the time taken was the philosophy that our learning experience shouldn’t be the cost for the new facilities. Indicating that there was to be no intrusive levels of sound coming from the construction during school time. Even with this constraint, Dr. Barder is hoping that many of the phase 3A facilities (covered court and canteen specifically) will be done by January.

Finally, when I asked him for some personal comments on how he feels about this construction and students currently living with the fences up, he said that he is really excited for the future. And to us, he wished for us to be patient. To understand that what’s most important in school is not the future we won’t get to be a part of, but instead, what is going on in the classroom now.

I personally agree with him. If you strip school of everything unnecessary, you would have your course material, a teacher and a classroom full of students wanting to learn. In essence, that is what school should be. Frankly, I still feel little disappointed that there are no magical step to finish all the construction in between now and January. But this isn’t only about us or the school. It’s for the next generation of learners to have a better experience than us. It is to give them more opportunities. Although I do feel sentimental about the changes happening, they are happening for a reason. My hope, now, is that we can provide them a future worth rebuilding for.

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