Alumni Interview: Luca Fleschler, Fraya Fleschler, Ximena Herrera
Years at ISPP: 2011 – 2017
See photos from Fleschler/Herrera Archives.
What years and grades did you attend ISPP?
We arrived in Phnom Penh at the end of 2011. Luca joined Grade 1 until Grade 6 and Fraya joined EYR 2 until Grade 3.
Where do you reside now?
We live in New York City in a neighbourhood created for the veterans after WWII. We are at walking distance from the school and our work.
Name the places you have lived in.
As a family, we lived in Denmark (Copenhagen), Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and USA (New York).
What do we need to know about you these days?
Luca: I am 15 years old now and am doing fine and have finished Grade 9. I attend the United Nations International School. Since March we have been on lockdown due to the pandemic, but we live in a beautiful place surrounded by trees and small pedestrian streets connecting many buildings, so we could safely walk around, bicycle and play.
I played baseball the first years, and now I sing in the school Senior Choir and have performed in the United Nations General Assembly on different occasions.
Fraya: I am 11 and just finished Grade 5. I am learning to play the trombone and piano and enjoy shopping in New York.
Ximena: We’ve been in quarantine since March working from home and online schooling so now that we entered phase 2 we are enjoying going out riding the bicycles in Central Park and walking along the East River. We are looking forward to seeing the city buzzing again and the famous lights of New York shining at night.
Which countries have you travelled to around the world?
We have a nomad spirit but there are so many interesting countries to visit… So far we have been in Denmark, Cambodia, USA, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, England, Spain, Greece, France, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Switzerland.
What do you miss most about Phnom Penh?
Luca: I miss my friends, ISPP and our house next to the Tonle Bassac.
Fraya: I miss having freedom at school, my friends, our house and the tuk-tuks.
Ximena: I miss the sunsets, the abundant rain and hot winters, my colleagues from the school, the big groups of kids playing and laughing, the trekking tours in Mondulkiri and Kirirom, the fantastic beaches and kayaking in the rivers.
What are your favourite memories of Cambodia and ISPP?
Luca: Having fun with my friends, Week Without Walls where I had the chance to interact with elephants in Mondulkiri. I enjoyed very much my transition to Secondary school at ISPP.
Fraya: Playing with my friends, pool parties and sports day at school.
Ximena: Too many good memories. The tuk-tuks rides, the good food and the colorful boats running on the Tonle Sap for the Water Festival.
What was your favourite school lunch or snack (or favourite food in Cambodia)?
Luca: In ISPP there is much better and healthier food and I miss the variety and the option to have seconds.
Fraya: I liked the beef Lok Lak that the school gave you, every time we had lunch I would check if they had it and if they did I would put as much as they let me.
Ximena: We loved that the school lunch offers a variety of options. My favorite food in Cambodia was the Fish Amok, the Beef Lok Lak, the noodles soup and the smell of Kampot pepper.
What was your favourite subject or who was your favourite teacher?
Luca: My favorite teachers were Mark McCaustlin and Sita Verma.
Freya: My favorite teacher was Ms Lisa Caple.
Where did you spend your time on campus / Which area of the school was the most fun?
Luca: The outside plaza with the tree next to the cafeteria was very fun and we played tag there all the time.
Fraya: Me and my friends would go to the big field on the side of the school and would walk all the way back to the monkey-bars and huts to play and eat.
Ximena: My favorite spot was in the library with the window facing the pool.
What was your most memorable song from your ISPP years?
Luca: I remember that in Grade 3 we had these meetups where the whole grade got together and at the end of this meeting, one of the students got to pick a song to listen to. There was a problem because most of the kids played annoying songs to annoy the teachers and I have a lot of nostalgia listening to the I am a Gummy Bear song.
What is your most memorable experience at ISPP? What happened and did you learn anything from it?
Luca: I really liked doing the Jungle Book play and it was my favorite theatrical experience and I haven’t gotten a better one since. I was also part of a band called The Untitled, playing the piano and singing together with my friends from ISPP and iCan and we performed in the Battle of the Bands in 2017.
Fraya: My friends and I were throwing the ball and catching it when the ball fell over the fence to the pool area, we weren’t allowed to go there but we needed the ball because it was very hard to get another one since there were no more left. My friends told me it was fine and there were no teachers looking so we unlatched the lock to the fence gate and I sneaked in, I went all the way to the back of the pool area and reached the ball when I heard a teacher screaming my name. I had to go to the principal office and missed the rest of the break and the time I was supposed to be using to prepare for our concert “I am the tiger” in front of the entire school.
Ximena: As part of my job I was doing several tours around the campus to show the school to new families. Each tour was special but what I treasure the most are those moments when I saw in the parents faces the happiness and the wish to go back in time to experience going to ISPP themselves.
Which event at ISPP was the most fun?
Luca: Week Without Walls and sports day.
Fraya: Sports day and swimming competitions.
Ximena: I enjoyed the International days where we had the opportunity to celebrate the amazing diversity of the school and learn from each other. The Book Week events where we participated in Candlelight Read Aloud and had the opportunity to visit the school at night. The Character Parades where both teachers and students showed their creativity dressing up. On one occasion we found 5 or 6 Harry Potters and Ms Paula Baxter dressed as Ms McGonagall.
What was the coolest art project you did?
Luca: I made a clay elephant and it is very special to me because the art teacher told me that it would not survive the furnace and it has survived 3 years without a single crack.
Fraya: I made a 3D unicorn that I still have hanging in my room.
What’s the best game or sport that you played in PE or after school? Why was it so fun?
Luca: I was part of the ISPP Swim team Falcons and competed with other schools in Phnom Penh as well as Thailand and Vietnam.
There was also a game where there were two teams standing on opposite sides of the gym and equipment for different sports. The coach called a sport and a number of participants to play the game and win points for the team. When they finished, it was the turn for other group and the coach called for a different sport to play. At the end of the class, we all had the opportunity to play and watch a variety of sports.
Fraya: I joined the swim squad in my last year in Cambodia and participated in some swimming competitions. In one of them, I won First Hit and I was feeling very proud.
In your opinion, what makes ISPP stand out?
Luca: It is a very kind environment and it is a very beautiful school.
Fraya: It is very big and has lots of green but at the same time has a lot of fun playgrounds and they are all different to match what any student would think is fun so that no one is left out feeling like the break isn’t fun and it’s boring.
Ximena: ISPP is a school created with the kids in mind. All the playgrounds and green areas are carefully thought for the age-appropriate groups. The rooms are designed to offer a space for expression and creation allowing different setups with areas for group work and cool spaces to chill out and read. The program is taught in a way that motivates students to reflect and understand complex concepts in a holistic way making learning fun and engaging in a caring environment.
What are your plans for the future?
Luca: My interests are in science and acting so I want to study Genetic Engineering and Arts.
Fraya: I still don’t know what I want to be :/ but I have a passion for animals.
Updates that you would like to share with our community.
Fraya: nahhhhhhhhhhhhhh 😐
Ximena: A big piece of our heart is still in Cambodia. We hope to have the opportunity to travel to Phnom Penh to visit the school and stroll the riverside again.