Why ISUtrecht? What’s your story?
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Why ISUtrecht? What’s your story?

6 years, 5 moves, 5 countries: China, Singapore, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, and now The Netherlands.  My family and I are relieved to finally arrive where we can be who we need to be.  It is as if all our searching and wandering has culminated into one fine place: Utrecht. But why Utrecht?  Why ISUtrecht?

By Paul Kemp, music teacher

Let’s go back a bit.  Well, to be honest, we really need to go back to Huahai Road but that’s another story.  If you would like to hear about it, just hunt me down and ask.  I’d love to share.  The story is so outrageous, it must be true.

Anyway, did you know that my teaching degree is actually in Social Studies, with a focus on Philosophy and Post-Colonial African History, and not music?  In fact, during my time training as a teacher I was curious to see if I could “make it” as a not-Musician in the professional world.  It didn’t take long for Music to re-send me its love letter of passion, creativity, and growth. 

The GuQin

After teaching History, Geography, and other subjects for a bit, I found myself studying a Masters of Music Education at the University of Victoria on lush Vancouver Island.  For my thesis, I wrote about my experience narrative of learning an ancient Chinese instrument called the “GuQin”: a 7-stringed zither-like instrument that dates back to Confucius. (Pronounced “Goo-Chin” and means “old instrument”.)

Why am I telling you about an ancient musical tradition?  Because after all of the years being a musician – teaching, studying, singing, conducting, recording, performing, composing, gigging and accompanying – I had never imagined my musical life to open up as it did with the GuQin.  Learning the GuQin helped me understand what it means to music (and yes, I have used music as a verb).  Curiosity is the key to life, and being curious is something I hope I share with everyone I meet.

The life-long values of music education

Fast forward to 2019 – 2 children and 3 countries later – where I was taking an MYP Training Course in Dubai.  One of my cohort members was the beloved music teacher of ISUtrecht, Mr. David De Geus. David and I immediately clicked on all things music, the life-long values of music education, and what it means to be an IB educator.  There was no doubt in my mind that a school like David’s would be a great place to collaborate with other IB-minded educators and students.

‘Be careful what you wish for’

When David mentioned that he and his family were considering doing a stint overseas I simply stated, “If you leave Utrecht, I’m taking your job.”  As they say, be careful what you wish for. 

My family and I are blessed and grateful to be here with you.  I am looking forward to make lasting relationships with the students, staff, and the wider community of ISUtrecht. Life is crazy and beautiful, isn’t it?