M'KIS Artist Spotlight: Making Magic with Mariah Hassan
We have a thriving community of creative teachers and students at M'KIS — from painters and illustrators, to sculptors and dancers.
Today, we're shining the spotlight on one of our brilliant M'KIS artists, Mariah Hassan. Mariah has been an artist almost since she could hold a pencil, and she draws inspiration from the world around her. We interviewed her to find out a bit more about her style, where she finds her endless creativity, and why she thinks art is such an important outlet for everyone. To see more of Mariah's artwork, find her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/scrumptious.serotonin/.
Thanks for sharing your incredible work with us, Mariah! Now let's get to the Q & A.
How did you first get into art? Was it always something you were interested in, or is it a recent passion?
I’ve been drawing since I was 7. It started off as silly little traced pieces of my toys but then it became something much bigger. In 2015, it turned into a more frequent hobby, and then in 2017, it was just a part of my identity.
Left: "Breakfast Buddies." I’m a big fan of Watcher Ent.’s show Weird (and/or) Wonderful World and this drawing was for an episode about them going to a breakfast place. This took longer than I’m willing to admit but It’s one of the pieces I’m proudest of.
Right: "A Little Picnic In Their Minecraft World ." This is one of my favorite pieces, and it took a few days to draw. The two characters are from the game Super Danganronpa II: Goodbye Despair, and it’s based on the “strawberry and black dress” meme on social media.
Tell us a little bit about your process and the materials, tools, or technology you use.
I use an iPad Pro and an apple pen for my work. I used to use my fingers but I’ve gotten used to using a stylus. I use programs like Medibang and Ibispaint because they’re simple and free to use. Pieces can usually take up to 6 hours if we exclude the multiple breaks I take when making them.
Where do you get the inspiration for your artwork from?
I’m inspired mostly by people. Whether characters from an anime to real-life figures I admire.
Left: "Mouse Madej and The Hummingbird ." This piece took the longest, using up to 7-8 hours in a few sittings. I made this as an entry to a Discord server’s weekly challenges. The prompt of the challenge was “Mouse Madej," a little inside joke within the community. This is definitely my proudest and my personal favorite piece because of how much I learned while making it.
Right: "Who Are You? " This piece was posted on my Instagram with a little filter and gold text saying “Who Are You?” This took a few hours to make and it’s a drawing of one of Ryan Bergara’s (host of Buzzfeed Unsolved) persona Ricky Goldsworth. This was a hard piece since it involved a lot of matching colors and making the piece look as clean as possible.
What role does art play in your life? Is it something you do to relax, to connect with others, to escape, etc.?
Art is my main hobby. Because of art, I’ve been able to join different communities, make some incredible friends and create a world for escapism. Art has done a lot for me.
Why is art important to you?
Art has been engraved into my whole being. It’s funny and sad in a way. Art is a helpful coping mechanism of mine and it has helped me understand myself as a person.
"Watch out for The Wall Man
." This piece was based on an episode of the show "Are You Scared?" where the two hosts read a story about the creature named The Wall Man. This piece is on the somewhat lazier side since the line art isn’t as clean, and it contains a monochromatic scheme. But the messier nature makes it all the more horrifying, I think.
What have the art classes or programs at M’KIS been like for you? What have you learned?
Art classes at M’KIS have made me walk out of my comfort zone. From people to birds and to buildings. It makes me more versatile as an artist, whether with painting or pencil sketches. And I even felt more confident as a person in those classes because of how supportive my teachers were.
"Snowflake: A New Musical." This was made in one sitting and I had a lot of fun with this piece. This was a gift for this musical actor that I really admired. He was making a musical called Snowflake and I was interested in making some art for it.
M'KIS Students Take the Podium at THIMUN Singapore
From November 16-20, students from across the world met on the global, virtual stage at THIMUN Singapore for the first ever THIMUN Online Conference. The conference is a dynamic, five-day simulation of a United Nations conference and an opportunity for students to put their diplomacy, debating, and problem-solving skills to the test as they tackle some of today's most pressing issues, from human rights to economic policy and global health issues.
We're incredibly proud to have had several M'KIS students participating in the conference this year, many of them for the first time! Under the leadership of M'KIS MUN chairs Abhi Lahiri and Shreya Sagar, the M'KIS team included Aditya Sharma, Maleeha Keswani, Shreeya Sanjeev, Aashvi Rajput, Serena Ogara, Tobi Joynt, Shaqir Rafiq Bin Amir Razif, Gabriel Bote, and Leon Ritz. Not only did our students prepare and train together virtually, but they fully embraced the spirit of the conference and exercised their diplomacy skills on the public stage.
Read on to hear about the conference, the challenges of preparing for this unique event, and why activities like MUN are so vital for preparing global leaders that are prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century!
Q & A with Abhi Lahiri and Shreya Sagar, M'KIS MUN Student Leaders
Can you tell us a little bit about what the THIMUN conference is all about, and what normally happens there?
The Hague International Model United Nations, or THIMUN, is an organization based in the home of the United Nations Peace Palace in the Netherlands, which facilitates MUN conferences globally. The goal of the conference is encouraging international collaboration to resolve issues and challenges of global significance. This is achieved through a week filled with discussion, debate, learning and problem solving with students from all over the world representing various nations and organizations in specialized committees like the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The conference also provides an excellent opportunity to network with international peers and learn from distinguished guest speakers who are often real UN diplomats or members of various international organizations. — Abhi Lahiri
What role will M’KIS be playing this year? What issues will you be discussing?
M’KIS has nine delegates and one student officer participating in the conference. The role of the delegates is very essential to formulating resolutions to issues in the conference. Delegates conduct research before conferences, and come up with policy proposals, staying true to the actual position of the country/organization they represent. The issues that will be discussed this year range from promoting education for disadvantaged populations in ECOSOC to methods to eliminate child exploitation in the Human Rights Committee (HRC). — Shreya Sagar
For some M’KIS students, this will be the first year that they’ve ever participated in a conference. What has that been like for the team as you prepare and work together?
The majority of the THIMUN delegates from M’KIS are participating for the very first time! It was quite a challenge to prepare them for the conference, considering that there was an extension of the Conditional Movement Control Order.
Due to this, the team was unable to meet at school physically and we had to conduct meetings online for the participants to acquaint them with the different aspects of the conference. We had one or two meetings every week before the conference to go over the procedures of the conference and the general flow of debate. We provided the newcomers with many resources such as articles, videos and demonstrations of what happens in an actual conference. Additionally, holding meetings helped us check in with the delegates who are participating for the first time. — Shreya Sagar
What are you most looking forward to this year as you participate in THIMUN?
One thing I most look forward to at every conference is seeing the gradual development of ideas that culminates into a series of resolutions that posit interesting, collaborative solutions to major global issues. This journey involves thought-provoking debates that attempt to answer pressing global questions, and facilitating these discussions as the chair of a committee is always an enthralling endeavor.
It is also exceptionally exciting to see new delegates grow into their roles, become engaged and embrace the spirit of the conference. With a large cohort of strong new delegates from M’KIS this year, I am particularly looking forward to watching how they adapt to challenges in this new online format and how they use our training to perform to the best of their abilities. — Abhi Lahiri
What has it been like to prepare for THIMUN as we all learn and work from home? What has been the most challenging part?
Preparing for THIMUN online has been a unique challenge. Every delegate has shown excellent initiative and enthusiasm in this time, rising up to the challenge and doing everything we as trainers set out for them to do. As part of my chairing responsibilities, I had additional online meetings with the Student Officer and THIMUN Board teams in order to thoroughly understand the nuances of the online conference and make the transition smoother for the delegates.
The most challenging part of preparation has undoubtedly been the lack of face to face interaction, which initially hampered progress. But we have had numerous meetings over the course of the weeks leading up to THIMUN, have used several online resources, and are as prepared as possible for the conference. — Abhi Lahiri
Why do you think MUN is valuable for today’s students to participate in?
I think one of the most valuable aspects of MUN is that it boosts your confidence and helps you acquaint yourself with important global issues. Similarly, it develops leadership skills as you try to put forth your country’s stance and convince other delegates that it is the best solution. It also enhances your public speaking and negotiation skills. Through MUN, delegates also gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the United Nations and build skills in diplomacy, compromise and decision-making. Another valuable aspect of MUN conferences is that it improves your collaboration skills as delegates form alliances with other countries and organizations and work in close relation to them, holding similar beliefs and views with regard to the issue. MUN helps all participants to critically think about the issues at hand and formulate resolutions that are reasonable as well as feasible. — Shreya Sagar
Green Club Leads Day of Climate Action
Led by the efforts of the M'KIS Green Club, we strive to promote environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly practices at M'KIS.
On Friday, September 25, hand-painted signs promoting climate justice popped up on the M'KIS campus as part of the M'KIS Green Club's efforts to draw attention to this important day. The hand-painted signs are an important reminder that the future of a healthier, greener planet is up to all of us.
As part of their efforts to step up for a brighter climate future, the M'KIS Green Club also put together 5 simple "Green Tips" that anyone can implement. By making small, individual changes to our habits, we can have an incredible collective impact on our campus, our homes, and our planet.
Read on for easy ways you can ensure we keep our planet green for generations to come!
Nurturing Creativity and Building Community During COVID-19
It's in times like these that our creativity shines. As a school that prides itself on community, M'KIS proudly celebrate accomplishments from all members of our community, including M'KIS parents. One of our M'KIS parents, Sukhada, recently wrote a moving piece about her family's journey during the global pandemic. Read on for her personal story and some insights.
You can read the article here: https://bit.ly/2Xm3W3i
Drawing inspiration from her personal life, Sukhada writes about how she believes COVID-19 affects us as a community. During this time of uncertainty, she is grateful for a life of abundance and particularly for her little boy, who keeps a smile on his face and his spirits high through these trying times.
She also has a message for the M'KIS community during this time:
"I am always impressed at how the teachers at M'KIS have consistently echoed a message of being environmentally conscientious and thoughtful towards each other through the various class lessons and activities they plan for our children. I hope we allow our children ambassadors to recommend small changes in each of our family's lives so we can be more conscientious towards each other and our planet moving forward. It will be in these small acts that we can begin to see change."
The Show Must Go Online! M'KIS Drama Students Shine in Virtual Production
As the news of school shutdowns and MCOs kept coming over the last year, our drama students prepared for the unexpected. Our MS & HS Theater teacher, Ms. Rachel Damon, knew that she needed to find a show that could be performed online in the event that campus closed, which is exactly what happened.
Because they were prepared, our theater students adapted their theater production quickly! They had chosen to perform 'Definitely Not Clue' a new show with audience interaction designed for Zoom, and they knew this would be a great time to embrace the challenges of online acting. Read on to get to know the cast and learn about their brave adventures in virtual drama production.
Q & A with Ms. Rachel Damon, M'KIS Drama Teacher
Tell us a little bit about why you chose to perform Definitely Not Clue for this year’s production.
I looked at a large number of plays, radio shows and other material that was online and wanted to find something that would be interactive and still have the immediacy and community feel of live theater. When I found 'Definitely Not Clue', a new show with audience interaction designed for Zoom, I knew it would be a great fit for our students.
Halfway through your preparation and rehearsals, the CMCO was put into place and you had to quickly come up with an alternative plan for the performance. What was that like?
I had been obsessively watching the case numbers in Malaysia start to go up, and thought this was a possibility. I sent the costumes home with the students the week before we went online and luckily had a day’s notice to put together green bulletin board paper for all the students that they were able to take home and use as green screens. We were initially going to film in the theater, but needed to transition to home filming. Luckily, we had always planned for the show to be online, so that made the logistics easier. We worked with the students to find the best set ups in their houses, some of them borrowing technology from their parents to find computers that would work with the virtual backgrounds in Zoom. The entire show was filmed directly on Zoom!
So much of theater is collaborative and about being together in one space. What has it been like to put together and rehearse a production while doing everything virtually?
We have been really lucky to have great parent support for this production, which has helped things run more smoothly. There have been some challenges of working online with younger siblings and pets running into the shot, and many technical difficulties. Some of the students had to ask their families to get offline so they would have enough bandwidth to stream! I have been so impressed with students' abilities to be resilient and roll with things as their green screens fell off the walls around them or they dealt with wifi issues. There are certainly added challenges of not being in the same room, but the students have really risen to the challenges.
Have there been any fun surprises or unexpected things you’ve discovered since you transitioned to virtual production mode?
The students have really enjoyed “being in the same room” (albeit a Zoom room), with their peers and it has given them a creative outlet and something to look forward to during the CMCO. I have been really impressed by their positive attitudes. Working virtually does have more of a cinematic feel than live theater and we have been working on camera proximity and taking the format of Zoom into account with our staging. I feel like we have all become Zoom pros after this performance and it has been fun to look at performances in a new way. I am excited for the audience to see all their hard work and interact with us in the chat to make this a more communal experience.
What’s one thing you want our students and parents to know about theater and what it means to students who participate in it?
Theater and performance are so critical for students, especially during the times we live in. If you think about what has gotten you through the lockdowns and MCO, most people would mention Netflix, TV shows or movies. All those actors got their start in school theater programs, and it's important that we continue to nurture the next generation of artists. Theater allows students to work collaboratively toward a common goal and have a social and creative outlet to persevere through difficult times.
In Their Own Words: Get to Know the Cast!
From left to right: Marisa McKenzie, Abood Alomari, Thara Thiruppathi Ahila, Adrian Sanchez, Jaime Lively.
Megan Jacobs, Assistant Director and playing Rube Rose: "Assistant Directing this production was an amazing experience! It was a ton of work, but allowed me to have a better appreciation for directors and editors. Continuing to stay involved with the community/school was also a blessing. Although things have been very uncertain due to COVID, it was nice to do a stable production. And I can officially say I have become a Zoom pro! I hope others will have the same enjoyable experience as me!
Marian Forson, playing Mr. Body/Mysterious Voice: "I had never really done any real drama productions before this, but in drama class, I got to do skits and scenes. It was interesting doing this production virtually. I got to learn how to set up a green screen, I practically became a Zoom pro, and I got to meet new people. It was also a good exercise in being patient, since everything was new to every member of the cast, and it took a while to get things set up. In the end, really fun and I honestly wouldn’t mind doing it again."
Campbell Budworth, playing Ruby Rose: "The key differences between acting in an in-person performance and acting in a virtual performance is the memorization of the lines, the product, and the process of production. Memorizing the lines was very different when doing the virtual performance, because you could have the lines beside you while filming. In an in-person performance, you get an evening out to see something amazing. But in a virtual performance, you get an evening to see something amazing in your own home!"
From left to right: Megan Jacobs (Assistant Director), Taeeon Jun, Reem Khalife, Smriti Tandon, Marian Forson.
Arwa Alomari, playing Astrid Pitt: "I enjoyed it and thought it was very interesting because it's my first show and because we filmed it at home!"
Thara Thiruppathi Ahila, playing Kevin: "This was my first online play, and it was really different from the real stage. We could do a lot more than traditional drama, like making people disappear out of the blue, summon costume changes with the snap of a finger (with the help of a little editing) and grow a beard. It took a lot of time to prepare and set up the shooting location. We had many technical issues, but we were able to successfully overcome it. Although it was challenging, online drama is just as fun as being on stage and filming was really fun. I laughed a lot and interacted with my fellow cast members, and the experience was memorable. I hope we will have a ‘Definitely Not Clue’ reunion by playing the board game ‘Clue’ virtually in 5 years from now!"
Reem Khalife, playing Forest Pine: "This has been such a unique, fun, and exciting experience, from collecting props around the house, trying frantically to get a better pair of headphones, and getting everyone to be quiet because we were filming! We got to set up green screens, talk to imaginary people while tilting our heads upwards to fit the layout, and more, and this was definitely challenging but it has been so exciting and fun that I wouldn't change it for the world. I would like to thank Ms. Damon, Megan, and Jaida for thinking through everything and for making this possible in the first place."
From left to right: Campbell Budworth, Jaida Sanada (Assistant Director), Aryan Sachdev, Hiya Khera, Arwa Alomari.
Adrian Sanchez, playing Greg Poupon: "Being an actor in these crazy times, during a pandemic, can be challenging. When we were shooting we ran into a few problems such as lag time online, green screens not working, siblings running into your room, and your dad trying to be on a conference call while you’re filming and slowing down the internet. But some of the great parts of being an actor during these times is you are in your comfort zone and the camera only captures the top half of your body, so you can wear comfy bottoms.
Hiya Khera, playing Ava LeFowl: "Filming online has been a challenge because of all the new things that we had to use. Even though it was hard, it was definitely a lot of fun not just to record but also to experiment with new things like virtual green screen backgrounds. Some differences were that we didn’t get to record next to each other at school like we were going to if there was no lockdown, and we won’t be able to be at school with each other and celebrate while people are watching our show that we all worked really hard for. Even with everything going on, we still managed to do our best and make this show entertaining to watch! "
Marisa McKenzie, playing Kevin: "This show has been very different from any of the other shows I’ve been in before, mostly because it is online. We also had to adapt, but once we knew the show was going to be online, we didn’t have any problems switching to practices online. This show is also different because I’ve never had digital practices before for a show, so that was new to me. "
Conservation Week 2020: Taking Care of our Collective Home, Planet Earth
Read on for ideas on how to help the planet, while staying home.
This year's M’KIS Conservation Week is going to be special for many reasons. Not only will we be spending this week at home, but it’s also the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Despite not being able to mark the occasion together, the M'KIS Green Club is committed to making it a memorable and impactful week.
Every year, M’KIS organizes Conservation Week in conjunction with other Earth Day events that take place all around the world.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22nd, 1970, when twenty million people in the United States took to the city streets and college campuses to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet. In 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris Climate Agreement into force.
Earth Day is a day when people from all over the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.
Today, we might be limited to the confines of our homes, but our actions still matter. To honor Earth Day’s 50th anniversary and M’KIS Conservation Week, we ask you to join the Green Club in our efforts to spread awareness in one of the following ways:
We look forward to seeing your photos, messages, and green initiatives. Together we can make a difference to our environment and the future of this planet. We hope that despite all the challenges and the limitations of social distancing, Conservation Week 2020 is a memorable one.
Lastly, to prove to you how much our actions impact our environment, we would like to send a message of hope. Here is an article by two of our M'KIS Green Club members about the impact that the measures taken to fight the present pandemic have had on our environment.
To learn more about the history of Earth Day and participate in one of the many virtual events that will take place during the next few days, visit www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/.
Student Feature - Joanne, Grade 8
Student Feature - Joining M’KIS in Kindergarten and now in Grade 8, Joanne has been drawn to the water since she was 3 years old. Her training regime is intense, with pool sessions at least 6 times a week. Joanne has been competing in swimming since the age of 8. In a recent competition, she took home 4 silver medals and 3 bronze medals. Her goal is to be a state and national swimmer one day, with the ultimate goal of competing in the Olympics.
Joanne is a soft-spoken student who does not like to draw attention to herself. When asked why she loves swimming so much, one of her reasons was “Swimming takes my mind off school and helps me cope with daily stresses.” Her favorite class at school is strings. Next year, Joanne will qualify to play on the Junior Varsity Volleyball team, something she is looking forward to.
The M’KIS Community would like to wish Joanne all the best for her future endeavors. You can achieve anything you put your mind towards.