Alumni Interview: Dany, Soriya and Kalyane Warren
Years at ISPP: 1996 – 2001
See more photos from Warren family archives.
Dany, Soriya and Kalyane are Cambodian sisters by adoption. They attended ISPP between 1996 and 2001 when they left aged 10, 7 and 3. Dany attended from 1996; Soriya from 1997 and Kalyane from 1999.
Before attending ISPP, Dany and Soriya were living in Thailand where Dany first started a Thai school at the age of two. Then both Dany and Soriya attended English-speaking Topsy Turvy preschool in Bangkok.
Dany has written up a separate interview (below). Here are Soriya’s (S) and Kalyane’s (K) replies:
Where do you reside now?
S: Brisbane, Australia
K: Brisbane, Australia
Name the places you have lived in.
S: Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Guildford, Loughborough (UK) and Brisbane (Aus)
K: Phnom Penh, Guildford (UK), Brisbane (Aus)
What have you been up to since moving from ISPP?
S: Went to live in England aged 8. Went to Loughborough University to do a Fine Arts Foundation Diploma, then was accepted into second year studies at Griffith University in Brisbane to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in jewellery and silversmithing. Then undertook a Masters in Primary Education and now working as a primary school teacher (Year 5) in a catholic school just outside Brisbane.
K: Only spent two years at ISPP but have very happy memories. Went on to complete secondary education in Guildford, Surrey, taking A levels in Drama, English and Music. While waiting to hear whether successful in an application to the Queensland Conservatorium to undertake a Bachelor in Musical Theatre, attended Guildford College to start an Electricians’ Course. Tutors were impressed with me and when I was one of 28 (out of 296 applicants) offered a place to study a BA in Musical Theatre, my tutors said I should go for it – which I did – and haven’t looked back, though I will still happily offer electrical advice! I will graduate at the end of 2020 and looking forward to the challenges ahead.
What do we need to know about you?
S: Inspired by wonderful teachers at ISPP, especially teachers Sara Shadravan and Alison Francis. As much as I loved art and jewellery making, I always felt inspired to teach as I felt that I had a real understanding of the difficulties faced by some students, and the exhilarating feeling when a student achieves. My art has been important to me as it has kept me in touch with my culture, and much of my jewellery pieces reflect my Cambodian heritage. I was awarded the regional ZONTA Award for Young Women in Public Affairs for my fundraising efforts for the orphanage in Phnom Penh that my sisters and I come from. It was very humbling to receive this award.
K: Singing has always been my passion so it was a dream come true when I was accepted onto the Musical Theatre course at Queensland Conservatorium. I hadn’t studied dance before and as this is a Triple Threat course (Acting, Dance and Singing), it has challenged me and been very hard work
Which countries have you travelled to?
S: Cambodia has always felt like home as I was born in Kampot. I have been able to keep in touch with my roots because my parents have facilitated visits there every year since my sisters and I left to live in England in 2001. I have visited France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Cuba, USA, Thailand, Burma, Viet Nam. and having lived in the UK, now live in Brisbane, Australia.
K: America, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Australia.
What are your hobbies? What do you end up doing in your spare time?
S: As a graduate teacher, I don’t seem to have very much spare time! However, I do enjoy travelling and have managed to visit Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania so far. I do intend to take up silversmithing again in the future. I enjoyed making jewellery and using the funds from sales to organise trips for the children of the orphanage.
K: Songwriting and hanging out with my friends. Going to the theatre and cinema.
What are you good at that nobody knows?
S: I think I’ve given away most of my “secrets” above. I also achieved Grade 6 in both piano and violin. The piano has been very useful for me as a teacher – I often get asked to play for the school assembly.
K: Piano Grade 8, Violin Grade 6 and singing Grade 6. I sing acapella in Guildford High Street and use the money for the orphanage in Cambodia.
Has your international school experience shaped your worldview? How?
S: Yes, very much. Firstly, it gave me the will and the confidence to go into teaching and in the future, I would like to teach at an international school.
K: I was very little, so can’t remember but I made nice friends from different countries.
What was your proudest moment in life?
S: Lots of them, really…. Managing to pass four A levels when my teachers said I should do three like all the other students. Being told I was to be given the ZONTA YWPA Award. Getting top marks for my BA Fine Arts degree. Deciding I could take on the challenge of a Masters. Going into a class full of 10-year-olds and knowing I was responsible for them.
K: Getting critical acclaim in the Stage review for my singing and performance as Lilias in the Secret Garden at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
What do you miss most about Phnom Penh?
S: Friends I made and who now live too far away. Happily, social media keeps us up to date.
K: The delicious food.
What are your favourite memories of Cambodia and ISPP?
S: Miss Francis’ class and all my friends – starting with all the A’s! Aheeka, Alana, Abby…
K: My friend Jasmin and sleepovers after school.
How do you remember your school years?
S: Happy and challenging at times.
K: Hot and cold.
What did you love most about studying in an international school?
S: The teachers and my friends.
What was your favourite school lunch or snack?
S: Lunch each day – always a surprise.
Which piece of technology has most contributed to your academic success?
What was your favourite subject or who was your favourite teacher?
S: Have to say art and swimming. Ms Francis.
K: Miss Sara. Singing and rhymes.
Where did you spend your time on campus / which area of the school was the most fun?
S: The playground.
K: Playing in the classroom with Jasmin.
What was your most memorable song in ISPP years?
S: I scream for ice-cream – on all those hot days.
If you were in charge of planning a concert for the school, which artists would you bring?
K: Katy Perry.
What’s the best game or sport that you played in gym class? Why is it so fun?
K: Climbing frame.
In your opinion, what makes ISPP stand out?
S: The teachers, which is why I chose to become a teacher myself.
What are your plans for the future?
K: The stage.
If you could give ISPP’s current Grade 12 class some advice at their graduation, what would it be?
S: No dream is too big. Believe in yourself. You can do it.
Hello, I’m Dany Warren and I’m 28 years old. I was born in Cambodia but went to live with my parents in Aranyaprathet in Thailand and then to Bangkok, where I went to my first school. It was a very strict Thai school and at aged two and a half, I got expelled! I was happy that ISPP took me as a student!
I joined ISPP in 1996 when I was four years old. The first classroom I had was in what became the North Campus. Then we moved across Norodom Boulevard to the Elementary campus. My first teacher was Ms Anita [Still working at ISPP as a Grade 3 teacher – Ed. note]. It’s lovely because Ms Anita and I still keep in touch and we see each other when I visit Cambodia. My other teachers were Ms Copple with Ms Tin-Tin, Ms Chipps, Ms McLaurin and Mr Clarke. I remember Ms Tatiana [Also still working at ISPP as a Grade 4 EAL teacher – Ed. note], Mr Reed and Mr Samnang helped me as I found schoolwork difficult. My favourite lessons were English and time in the library with Mr Jim.
My sisters and I also enjoyed going to South American dance classes with Ms Pilar, Gabriella’s mum who taught dancing after school. My friends, my sisters and I all had fun at ISPP. We had lots of “Show and Tell” and played lots of games and I liked going to the library to read books.
When I went to live in Guildford in England, I did extra classes on the weekends and learnt basic piano and violin. I can still remember how to play some piano now but I have to have the music book in front of me!
I have always enjoyed cooking, reading and arts and crafts, but cooking the most. I like to create sauces, and I think that’s because I lived in Asia where the food is spicy and delicious.
My Dad is Australian so I have had the chance to visit Australia on quite a few occasions. My sisters live there now too so I miss them and love to go and see them there. I also love seeing the koala sanctuary in Brisbane which is the biggest one in the whole world. I have also visited quite a few other countries including France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and Poland. While living in Thailand, I spent quite a lot of time in Burma and visited Laos.
Since coming to live in England in 2001, I have returned to Cambodia every year because my family like to help the orphanage my sisters and I were adopted from. We know all the children well and love them very much. I have also had the chance to travel to Laos and Vietnam, where my mum worked nearly 40 years ago.
After finishing school in Guildford, I went to Guildford college to learn catering, then I went to study at a special hotel called Foxes in Minehead, Somerset. There, I got my NVQ [National Vocational Qualification] in catering and was able to get a job at the Hilton Hotel back in Surrey.
I work at the Hilton two or three mornings a week. Last year I was so proud because the Hotel nominated me for the Best Student Award to the UK Institute of Hospitality. I was shortlisted to the final five and was invited to the Waldorf Hotel, London for the Institute’s Annual Award ceremony. I stayed up in London for the night and the evening was wonderful. As well as the nomination to the UK Institute of Hospitality, the Hilton Cobham also made me Team Member of the Month last year. I was chosen over 97 other colleagues so everyone was happy for me.
I have many challenges in my life, so I am very happy to have a job at the Hilton Hotel in Cobham. As I like to keep busy, I also volunteer two days a week at the Cancer Research Charity shop in Guildford.
I miss Phnom Penh because it still feels like home. I’m lucky that I have had the opportunity to go back so many times and have been able to spend time with old friends and teachers, like Ms Anita, Ms Copple and Mr Samnang.
One memory is our housekeeper coming to school each day with my lunch. My favourite food was fish and rice but once I got a fishbone stuck in my throat and everyone was in a panic!
I spent my time on the Main Campus and I loved playing with my friends and my sisters.
The song I remember most is “Planting Rice is Never Fun” and that is a very good memory of both ISPP and Cambodia’s rice fields.