The Young Internationals
On April 15, 1969 a group of musically-talented high school and college students from the U.S.A visited ISB and put on a dazzling show that delighted our students and teachers. The group, named The Young Americans was established in 1962 and directed by Mr. Milton C. Anderson. Each year Mr. Anderson held auditions across the United States and hand-picked budding entertainers with the talent, drive and energy to perform at venues all over the world.
Shortly after the performance at ISB, Mr. Jerry Wartgow, Dean of Students and a small group of ISB students agreed that ISB harboured sufficient talent to create a similar music group.
ISB Student Performers
Thus, in the 1969-1970 school year the ISB Young Internationals was born. The group, under the direction of Mr. Wartgow, became an overnight sensation as they delighted audiences not only at ISB but around Bangkok and American military bases all over Thailand (as it was during the Vietnam War). One of the founding members of the group was Kolua Seiko (back then known as Alberta Valdez), who recalled: “I was the 'Whip' (leader) of the first Young Internationals group and have wonderful memories.” Mr. Wartgow added, “I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career and leadership opportunities at all levels of education, but none has been more enjoyable, rewarding, or impactful on my personal life than my time with ISB and the Young Internationals.”
Ambassadors of ISB and its Community
Throughout the 1970s the Young Internationals was a mainstay at ISB. Those students participating in the group were perhaps the best known ambassadors of ISB and its community. The group performed at venues all over Bangkok, including the prestigious Royal Bangkok Sports Club, the Dusit Thani and the Oriental Hotel. They even entertained audiences across Southeast Asia, at one point even appearing before the nation on Thai television. One can certainly say that when people in the region thought of ISB, they thought of the Young Internationals.
When the Young Internationals was established, ISB was in the midst of a Vietnam War-era enrollment boom, serving 4,000 students across two campuses. When this era ended, the student population returned to 1,200. Following the exodus of so many students and the genesis of other groups like The Thespians on campus, by the early 1980s the Young Internationals was no more.
An ISB Legacy
It is normal for clubs and groups on campus to come and go, but it should be known that for a full decade the musical phenomenon known as the Young Internationals was not only the talk of ISB, but of Bangkok, Thailand, and even South-East Asia. For a whole generation of ISB students, many of their fondest memories of high school were participating in, or watching this multi-talented group. Ironically, earlier this school year The Young Americans returned to ISB and inspired a new generation of ISB students. Who knows, perhaps once again we will see the revival of that wonderful group ISB Alumni affectionately refer to as “The YIs!”