How an international outlook takes students from Ostrava to the Ivy League

The Ostrava International School helps pupils from around the world achieve their dreams while developing their unique sense of self. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 03.06.2024 17:00:00 (updated on 03.06.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

“Don’t be afraid to dream big and reach for the stars… and I will help you get there if I can.”

So said Kyle Kim, alumnus of The Ostrava International School (TOIS), currently completing his sophomore year in Financial Economics at Columbia University, as he welcomed a recent visit of his alma mater’s Model United Nations Club to New York City. 

Before being accepted to both Columbia and Seoul National University in Korea, Kyle had spent his entire childhood and academic career at The Ostrava International School, located in the Czech Republic’s third city, not far from the borders of both Slovakia and Poland.

The TOIS students had just won accolades at the Global Citizens Model United Nations Conference in Manhattan, and took a moment from their busy program to meet one of their own, who had just a few years earlier walked the very same corridors of TOIS with them. 

“Even more important than your academic success, is that you become who you really want to be,” said Kyle. “Like me, you might be trying to juggle a couple of identities at the same time, trying to hold on to the culture you come from, and at the same time, adapting to new cultures you find yourself in.

“As international students, the door has been opened for you. This is a gift. It is something that you will carry with you for the rest of your lives. Nurture it. Make it yours.”

Despite not being located in the Czech capital, but at the same time being ambitious for its size, TOIS was the first International World Baccalaureate Continuum School in the Czech Republic, offering the full IB range of programs for students aged 3-19. 

A big part of TOIS’ success stems from the way that it supports the well-being and empowerment of its international students, staff and families as they learn to live in new and changing environments. 

“The school understood from the very beginning what it means to come from a different country, to have some identity from that country, and a little bit of identity in your new country. My friends and classmates at TOIS were a mix of all kinds of countries and backgrounds.

“I think TOIS does a good job helping students feel comfortable with who they are and who they want to be, and when that happens, it becomes a whole lot easier to focus on the academic side,” Kyle explains. 

During a tour of the Columbia University campus, TOIS Middle Years and Diploma program students engaged with Kyle in an open discussion about the challenges that lay ahead in the completion of the TOIS International Baccalaureate Diploma Program courses, university applications and essays, and the importance of maintaining a work-life balance.

“At times, it might feel like you are trying to bridge the impossible, but if you are honest with who you are, then you really can do anything,” Kyle said, closing the tour. 

“We are a small school of fewer than 200 students, but with a staff and student body from over 35 countries around the world, we work on the international level with some of the biggest and most well-established international schools and universities in the world,” said TOIS founder and Director Brett Gray. 

“Our job has always been to help kids wherever they come from to pursue their dreams, whether that’s just around the corner or across the globe.” 

This article was written in association with The Ostrava International School (TOIS) - the first International Baccalaureate Continuum School in the Czech Republic. To read more about our partner content policies see here.

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