School Advisor Articles

Shaping Futures: A Journey through AISM and IGBIS with Pei Xien Yeoh

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Dec 14, 2023

Parents consistently seek the best possible opportunities for their children’s growth and development, a sentiment mirrored in the burgeoning landscape of international schools in Malaysia. In recent years, this educational sector has witnessed significant expansion, presenting diverse options for families. Two notable institutions, Australian International School Malaysia (AISM) and IGB International School (IGBIS), have played pivotal roles in shaping students’ experiences like Pei Xien Yeoh.

Pei Xien praised the teachers and support staff at AISM for always being there whenever she had questions or needed help with any challenging topics

Australian International School Malaysia: Where it all began

Established in 2000, AISM caters to students of all ages, from three to 18. The school follows an Australian curriculum and is the only school in Malaysia to offer the New South Wales Higher School Certificate (HSC). Here, students are nurtured to be curious, responsible, creative, confident and well-informed through its 50/50 approach to curriculum and learning. 

Pei Xien Yeoh embarked on her educational journey at AISM in 2006, starting as a kindergartener and continuing until Year 9 in 2015. Here, she experienced a nurturing learning environment that encouraged exploration and growth. The Australian curriculum emphasised active trials and participation in addition to academic excellence. This approach truly benefited Pei Xien who believes the exposure allowed her to develop various skills and interests early on.

She says, “Having an environment that nurtures my strengths beyond academics was very positive and reassuring. I engaged in various co-curricular activities, including girls’ basketball, duathlons, triathlons and a wide range of CCAs such as performing arts, home economics, sports and robotics. I also participated in the KL Novel Knockout competition, where we read books and competed against other international schools in the Klang Valley area.”

Moving into the Middle and Senior School, Pei Xien found an environment conducive to academic focus. Teachers and support staff offered extensive guidance, contributing to a culture of studying and scholarly growth.

“If I had a question or wanted an extra pair of eyes on an essay, the teachers and support staff were willing to lend a hand and support us either by providing extra coaching/tutoring sessions either during break times or after school, answering any questions or going through any topics that were challenging,” Pei Xien says. 

Engaging in activities like the Maths Olympiad and the World Scholar’s Cup broadened her horizon, fostering debate, essay writing, and quiz skills while also providing exposure to a global community of students.

Despite leaving over eight years ago, Pei Xien still keeps in touch with many students from her cohort and some teachers, mainly through social media, particularly Facebook. In 2016, the community mourned the sudden loss of a beloved former teacher who had been incredibly kind and inclusive to all. The collective grieving process showcased the school’s culture of gratitude and appreciation, emphasising the tight-knit community AISM fosters.

Pei Xien participated in music class while she was in Grade 8 at IGBIS

Transition to IGB International School

In 2015, Pei Xien transitioned to IGB International School (IGBIS) where she stayed for two years. The decision to switch schools was driven by her desire to align her academic calendar with her plans to study in the UK. She also aimed to pursue the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), which she believed aligned well with the IB Middle Years Program (IB MYP) at IGBIS.

When asked why she chose IBDP instead of A-Levels, Pei Xien says, “Compared to the A-Levels, where students take an average of 3-5 subjects and focus on them for two years,  the IBDP requires students to take six subjects from various groups (Sciences, Humanities, English, Foreign Language, Maths and a second subject from each group or an Art subject).|

“This breadth of knowledge is more suited for real life and those who don’t know what they want to pursue. While I knew I wanted to study humanities at university, I appreciated the breadth of subjects I could take at the same time.”

At IGBIS, Pei Xien found the environment encouraged self-led development and exploration. However, the school was still relatively new then, and it took time to establish a structured curriculum. Despite the initial challenges, Pei Xien credits the IB programme at IGBIS for equipping her with valuable skills and a mindset for academic excellence.

She also thrived in co-curricular activities. Actively participating in sports, leading clubs, and engaging in service activities, Pei Xien’s time at IGBIS is marked by a diverse array of enriching experiences. 

“I was part of the girl’s basketball team, playing against other international schools and travelling to Singapore to compete against schools from other Asian countries,” Pei Xien says. Her involvement extended to the school’s badminton contingent, student council board, editorial board, debate club, Model United Nations club, and the Merchandise & Apparel club. These experiences contributed to a rich tapestry of skills and leadership qualities.

Studying at University College London 

After completing her IBDP at Sevenoaks School, a UK boarding school, she was admitted to University College London (UCL) to study BA Arts - History, Politics and Economics (PPE). She has always wanted to pursue this programme since she was 14. 

She shares, “In school, humanities was always my strong suit. I enjoyed history classes, particularly in Year 9 at AISM. I remember the teacher talking about the Industrial Revolution and how no event happens in isolation from the other, and there and then it clicked. Also, during my time in the World Scholar’s Cup, we learned about espionage and the Cold War  subjects I would revisit in IGBIS during our Integrated Humanities subject. Doing Model United Nations (MUN) as co-curricular in AISM and IGBIS also honed public speaking and knowledge of international relations.”

Pei Xien wanted to be a jack of all trades and did not want to confine herself to one subject. Thus, the PPE programme offers the breadth she sought while allowing her to see the interdisciplinary nature of work and how each subject does not function in isolation. 

After graduating from UCL, Pei Xien embarked on a career as a management consultant at Deloitte. 

Pei Xien is grateful for her education at AISM and IGBIS, as both schools have significantly contributed to shaping the person she is today.

Advice to Parents Considering International Schools

Every parent tries their best to provide the best possible opportunities for their children to prosper. International schooling is a big investment for many parents, but Pei Xien believes international schools offered her abundant opportunities, networks, activities and exposure.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at AISM as a young child because it taught me skills to prosper later in life. International schools offer the best opportunities for its students in Malaysia, whether through its co-curricular offerings, sports offerings, excursion/camp offerings, competition offerings and overall exposure to expat faculty and students,” she says.

She recommends that parents pay special attention to the secondary and pre-university years (ages 13-18), as these years play a crucial role in shaping a student’s future trajectory. Additionally, Pei Xien advises students interested in studying abroad to consider the IGCSE or the IBDP as these programmes are globally recognised and accepted by higher education institutions worldwide.

Pei Xien’s story demonstrates the importance of choosing an international school that meets your child’s needs and aspirations. With dedicated staff, diverse programmes, and a supportive community, both AISM and IGBIS offer students the opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.