Sixth Formers Olivia Chuang and Estela Lacombe Franca were already active members of the International Society but felt there was more that could be done to expand global consciousness among their peers.
“All of us have come from very different backgrounds,” says Chuang. “We wanted to introduce the School community to broader events. International students have personal experiences and opinions about these things.” They reached out to fellow foreign affairs aficionado, formmate Josh Beirich, to join in their cause and from there The Tides was born.
The School-wide electronic newsletter, launched last year by Chuang, Franca, and Beirich, seeks to inform as well as spur conversations on issues outside of the academic experience on the School’s 2,000-acre grounds.
Chuang, Franca, and Beirich all bring an outside perspective: Chuang hails from Singapore, Franca is from Brazil, and Beirich has lived in the Middle East and several American cities, including Paso Robles, Calif., and Fort Hood and Corpus Christi, Texas. The publication reflects the diverse student population at St. Paul’s School – current students come from 38 states and 17 different countries.
In the most recent issue, the team of young writers expounded on midterm elections in Taiwan, U.S. and North Korean relations, and the possible extinction of Native American languages.
"It's us being open and available to any viewpoint, any perspective, any idea from all over the world that you want to pull in, that's a benefit,” says Beirich. “The even more important mission – it is an international newsletter, yes – but we also want to highlight in The Tides differing opinions and perspectives. Along with breaking the bubble of what is happening in the world.”
The faculty advisers for The Tides, humanities teacher Deborah Vo and languages teacher Dr. Andy Gray, say they are impressed with Chuang, Franca, and Beirich’s follow through on such an ambitious endeavor. “They've recruited and trained writers and editors conceived the ideas, done some of the writing and editing themselves, done all the formatting, and all the advertising. They send us an almost finished product, which we look over and offer some final editing/polishing advice, and that's it. These kids are truly awesome," remarks Vo.
The trio of editors says producing a newsletter on a monthly basis has been a process of trial and error. Beirich and Franca credit Chuang’s organizational skills for bringing everything together. “I also want to stress that is it the effort of our writers and our editors who respond to me right away,” responds Chuang. “I’m always amazed at the amount of effort the writers will put in, and the editors put in.” Before being greenlit for a story, applicants to The Tides must submit writing samples that satisfy the editors’ expectations. “A lot of people approach us and want to write for us,” says Chuang. “We want people to know how to write, but then also know how to research.”
Khuan-Yu Hall ’21 has proven to be one of the most enterprising correspondents to date. The Fourth Former taps the School's vast alumni network to inject original reporting into his pieces. His most recent contribution on the conflict in the Central African Republic included insights from David Brownstein '90, the charge d’affaires for the U.S. Embassy in that country. Hall’s previous work involved taking advantage of a break in Florida with his family where he was able to take part in the March for Our Lives event alongside students from Parkland affected by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
"No matter where you are from, a writer or not, things are going on everywhere that deserve our attention, so that they can be shared, and we can all learn,” says Hall.
Since The Tides made its debut, Chuang, Franca, and Beirich have received a steady stream of interest from students and faculty alike. The three are confident the momentum will continue after they graduate in June. The recent influx of interested new writers – upwards of 16 students – indicates a path forward for the next school year.
The attention the group is receiving is warranted, says Gray. “I have been very impressed with the students’ initiative, and their eagerness to take on this academic work without any prodding from adults,” he says. “The final product speaks for itself.”
The Tides is only available through e-mail distribution. If you are interested in receiving it, contact the publication’s faculty advisers, Deborah Vo and Dr. Andy Gray.