Updated: Nov 6, 2021
South East Asian Student Activities Conference
I’ve not been to a SEASAC event since 1996. Anything I know about the organization since creating it with the help of my superintendent and several other schools in the 1994-95 school year is through the internet https://www.seasac.org/ and YouTube. Although I’m sure there has been disruptions in the last year, it would seem that the last 25 years has brought member schools a treasure trove of benefits, notwithstanding the development and memories imparted to tens-of-thousands of young people from all over South East Asia. While critical to the establishment of the South East Asian Student Activities Conference a small number of us may have been at the outset, the greater honor must go to all the athletic directors, school administrators, coaches, parents, and athletes who have carried and passed on the torch for a quarter century. Seriously, I am amazed at the ongoing commitment and international cooperation to the strengthening of the decades long purpose of the South East Asia Student Activities Conference:
SEASAC exists to support International schools in South-East Asia in achieving their educational gals. Through a range of sporting and artistic activities it aims to promote closer links among teachers, administrators, and students of its member schools; encourage opportunities for healthy competition and the pursuit of excellence; develop and extend social and cultural interaction; and to promote an appreciation of the rights, dignity and worth of every person. (https://www.seasac.org)
In 1994, I was serving the Surabaya International School in Java, Indonesia as the Activities Director as well as physical education teacher and coach. We had already been interacting with local schools in Surabaya as well as a few other international schools in Indonesia (North Jakarta, Bandung, Bali, etc). However, both Jim Mains (SIS Superintendent) and I wanted to develop international opportunities for our students representing 40 nations around the world. There was already an international association for larger schools in the region, the International Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) but not for smaller schools. Previously working in the MidEast, I was aware of the great opportunities afforded to member schools of the Eastern Mediterranean Activities Conference (EMAC) from Kuwait, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, etc.
The Surabaya International School, at 350 students K-12, was just large enough to support the fielding of teams in sports and fine arts. I researched all the international schools in South East Asia and reached out to them by fax and e-mail (that new and easy way to reach out to people and organizations) to see if they’d be interested in forming a new association. After contacting potential schools, a few responded in the affirmative. Three from Thailand: Rumrudee International School (RIS), The New International School of Thailand (NIST), and Bangkok Patana School, in addition to the United World College (Singapore). Along with the Surabaya International School (Indonesia), it was decided that we meet in Bangkok to set the foundation and first annual calendar for the 1995-96 school year.
After three days of meetings between athletics/activities directors of the five like-minded schools in terms of mission, purpose, expectations, calendaring, and all the minute details of visas, passports, fees, etc., which culminated in the formation of a SEASAC manual, we all departed with great expectations for the following school year. Rumrudee kicked it off the following fall with girls/boys volleyball tournaments for member schools. Amazingly, Surabaya (the smallest school) brought home the championship trophy in boys’ volleyball AND the sportsmanship trophy. Thereafter, basketball, soccer and badminton tournaments (if my memory serves me right) were held in the winter, also in Thailand. Surabaya, with its new school and 50 x 25 meter swimming pool, gladly hosted the swimming competition in the spring. Each SEASAC event included social gatherings and banquets so that students could engage in social and cultural interaction. I remember how well these student-athletes were dressed on these occasions. When Surabaya traveled to other countries, they wore ‘batik’ clothing to represent the nation of their residence.
All in all, the first year of SEASAC was considered a resounding success. All the objectives set by school directors were met. Every event on the calendar was held. Schools met their housing/billeting obligations, and students from member schools considered these events a highlight of their school year. Schools and families met the many details necessary including organizing visas, passports, international flights, lodging, practice, preparation, school work, etc, etc.
In the Spring of 1996, after the completion of the calendar for the first year, the activities directors gathered again, this time on the campus of the United World College in Singapore, to further develop the SEASAC bylaws and plan events for the 1996-97 school year. The directors were similar in their vision and purpose for what the organization can do to benefit all member schools, and also of the mind to reach out to more schools. The current member schools left the meetings enthusiastic about the possibilities for the second year.
Due to personal reasons, I had decided to return to the USA the following year, thus fulfilling my service at the Surabaya International School and humbled to be a part of the creation of a conference of schools that has lasted 25 years now. While a little nervous to depart after the first year, I was entirely confident that the organizing team had everything under control. While the germination of SEASAC may have begun in Surabaya, the planting, seeding, and growth have been a team effort between all member schools. We all desired developing such international opportunities for our students and thus came together in a whole-hearted, cooperative effort.
A quarter century later, the South East Asia Student Activities Conference has grown impressively throughout the region. Sixteen members schools come from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
I want to congratulate all the activities/athletic directors who have served on the SEASAC organizing committee for the last 25 years. All success is a result of their detailed planning and preparation. Much appreciation also goes to the member schools, coaches and supervisors, parents and students for their commitment to the effort and teamwork essential for the development of a thriving, international association of schools.
I offer my best wishes for all those committed to the ongoing success of a premier international organization of schools dedicated to young people and fostering their committment to excellence, social and cultural interaction, and in appreciating the rights, dignity, and worth of every person.
Dave Rojeck, Ph.D.
Canadian International School of Hong Kong – CDNIS Timberwolves from Hong Kong
British School Jakarta – BSJ Bulldogs from Jakarta
Garden International School – GIS Dragons from KL
Mont’Kiara International School – MKIS Tigers from KL
The Alice Smith School – KLASS Lions from KL
International School Yangon – ISY Chintes from Yangon
Australian School Singapore – AIS Sharks from Singapore
Stamford American International School – SAIS Lions from Singapore
Tanglin Trust School – TTS Merlions from Singapore
UWC South East Asia – Dover Campus – UWCD Phoenix from Singapore
UWC South East Asia – East Campus – UWCE Dragons from Singapore
Harrow International School – HIS Lions from Bangkok
NIST International School – NIST Falcons from Bangkok
Bangkok Patana School – BPS Tigers for Bangkok
Ruamrudee International School – RIS Phoenix from Bangkok
Saigon South International School – SSIS Dragons from HCMC