26 Jan, 2018
10 : 00
In this week’s edition of Student Blogs, we’re delighted to highlight the achievements of Year 11 students Amy Yin and Sydney Lee, both of whom were recently published in the latest edition of INKBEAT Youth Journal – a literary journal that celebrates the writing and art of students in the Beijing area. Sydney’s artwork is featured on the cover, while Amy had a short story published.
In speaking with both girls, they share more about their first memories of living in Beijing, what inspires their artworks, and tips for other students who would like to develop their own creativity through the arts.
Can you please introduce yourselves?
Amy: Hi, I’m Amy Yin. I’m from Hong Kong, and I’ve been at YCIS Beijing since 2007.
Sydney: My name is Sydney Lee, in Year 11. I’m from the United States, and I’ve been attending YCIS Beijing since 2014.
What were your first impressions when arriving in Beijing, and how do you enjoy living here?
Amy: That was ages ago, so I can’t really say that I remember it all that well. The weather was great during the Olympics, though – it’s good to see that’s been making a comeback recently. On a scale from one to ten, I rate Beijing as a solid six. It’s a bit iffy at times, especially when the air quality takes a dive, or when all the cool concerts and comic book conventions have to happen in Shanghai. But the subway system is pretty great here. It’s hardly ever late and quite cheap, just a bit squishy during rush hours, but you can easily avoid that. I really enjoy public transport here in general.
Sydney: My first impressions of Beijing definitely included the air quality, and how diverse the city was. Although it took me a while to adapt to the culture, I do enjoy living here.
How do you feel about the YCIS Beijing school community?
Amy: It’s pretty great. The community is small, but tight-knit, and everybody’s very welcoming and polite, which is great. Met some wonderful people here.
Sydney: Personally, I enjoy how tight-knit the YCIS Beijing school community is, as it makes it easier for every member of the community to get to know each other better and do our own thing without being afraid of being judged.
Please explain the process through which you were featured in the INKBEAT Youth Journal.
Amy: Our English teacher Mr. Locke told us about the magazine last year and told us to submit some of our stories, because they were surprisingly okay. Spinning those stories in such a way that they met the requirements of the magazine was pretty easy. After a while, I was contacted via email by one of the magazine editors who asked me to edit the story she liked in a specific way. So I did the edits, and next thing I knew I was standing at the release party with a bunch of people I’ve never met. It was pretty fun. I met a nice person who takes these amazing pictures of signposts and bus stops.
Sydney: One day in English class, our teacher suggested that all of the students submit our short stories to the INKBEAT Youth Journal. While submitting my story, I learned that the magazine also included and visual arts section, and thus decided to simultaneously submit my art pieces.
What inspired the artwork and short story that you created?
Amy: The particular brand of self-deprecating humour you can get in certain online communities was a big influence on the story that got published. In fact, the whole thing was a long (and arguably pretty silly) joke. It was originally written for a class assignment of some sort, with the prompt, “write a story that begins with a disappointment”. I titled it “(Auto)Biography”. At this point you can kind of guess what the punchline is…
I had another story submitted and accepted as well, but the magazine only publishes one short story per writer every issue. That story was largely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” and “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” by Hirohiko Araki, because they both had a great post-colonial magical realism-thing going on. Is that even a thing? Also David Bowie’s “Starman” from his Ziggy Stardust album had a lot to do with it, too.
Sydney: What initially inspired the artwork was the complexity of human facial expressions. Personally, humans are my favorite subject to work with, as I have always been deeply interested in the way that we work and function. Moreover, I had just gotten into embroidery, and was experimenting with ways to make the dry media imitate the effects of wet media (aka oil or acrylic paint).
How do you cope with stress as a student?
Amy: I drink a lot of tea and try not to think about it. Also, there’s a great BBC documentary about penguins called “Penguin Spy in the Huddle” where these spy cams disguised as penguins infiltrate three penguin colonies and record the daily lives of some penguins. It’s very calming.
Sydney: As a student, there is an undeniable amount of pressure that one has to deal with. Personally, I do feel a lot of pressure to keep up my grades, while simultaneously exploring my passions, and developing skills and talents outside of schoolwork. However, I feel that this exploration of things that I love doing is what helps me cope with stress. For instance, I genuinely enjoy drawing/painting, writing music, and dancing. All of these things definitely help me in relieving stress and relaxing, which I feel is extremely important to do.
What tips do you have for other students who are interested in developing their creativity through the arts?
Amy: Acquire good taste by consuming a lot of the style of media that you enjoy. And then try to make something that isn’t “bad”. If that doesn’t work out, get rid of all traces of what you made earlier, and do it again until it works, which might take a while. What matters most, however, is to keep an open mind about everything you see.
Sydney: A tip I have for other students is to not be afraid of trying new things. I’m fully aware of how cliché that sounds, but I genuinely believe that this is so important for students my age – as this is the time that we have to really explore and learn more about ourselves and what we want to do with our lives.
The thing is, you’ll never truly know yourself as much as you could if you never push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. Who knows, maybe you could discover that you really enjoy doing something that you never imagined yourself even going near – and I speak from experience. I only started dancing about a month ago, and now it’s one of my most favorite things to do. Honestly, the learning experience is so valuable, and is something that I promise you will never regret.