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What our students say...

"I used to believe most plays or performances were made by some balding old man behind a desk, but the ISTA Academy taught me that inspiration can come from anywhere, and that our creations can in turn inspire others to create as well. Eventually you reach this Inception-like meta performance that’s so inextricably linked and full of material that it’s become a seven-layer dip of pleasure and entertainment.  ISTA's amazing. It's Splendiferous To Attend. That's what it should actually stand for!" - Alastair, NAIS Puxi


"Everyone in the academy is friendly. I love the fact that in the academy, everyone is equal and free to be who they want to be. Moreover, we are an ensemble, and we all respect each other. For every term, it’s always exciting to start from nothing, and end up with everything. Everything that happens in the academy is something I could never experience if I didn’t join, and it was a great opportunity for me." - Nao, WISS

"The ISTA Academy helps you to develop skills that you can apply to life in general - from developing an open mind, to collaborating with a wide age range of people.  I travel across town every time and it's always the highlight of my week" - Eli, NAIS Pudong

"This experience has developed my skills as an actor.  I am so much more aware of all the ingredients that can combine to make a performance magical"  Isabella, Dulwich Pudong

Irene Spampinato, mother

With this opportunity given by ISTA, my daughter improved her performing and self-confidence skills.

Her creativity and capacity of creating scenes, music and dance with only one theme given. I think that during this ISTA academy these two things have improved in her. I also think that she changed her communication and confidence skills.

Whether or not a coincidence, after the ISTA academy my daughters critical thinking has improved. As her creativity improved, I think it’s important that she uses it in her daily life too.

I was sure that she would enjoy the program because she loves to be on stage; but during the first academy program, I was really surprised by her actions in the performance. During a dance routine she was very confident about jumping while others caught her.

Nowadays, I think that the arts help you change your way of looking at things; which can help the academic and job carrier. Although the arts might not be part of her main future, all the skills that she learned (communication, creativity, confidence etc.) will still be very important. 

I think that one ISTA academy course should last a bit longer; this way they can learn more.   




Barbara Wagner, mother 

As expat homeschoolers in Shanghai, we find that extracurriculars, especially as kids get older, are largely school-based.  ISTA allowed my daughter the rare opportunity to participate in performing arts, particularly theater, and this was a fabulous experience for her. Participating in a program like this also afforded her the opportunity to work as part of a team.

My daughter became more and more engaged in the program and the kinds of activities ISTA was doing.  There was real excitement as the kids got closer to their performances.  After the performance, I think all the kids had a real sense of pride and satisfaction for having accomplished such a big endeavor.

My daughter did not have much experience with theater prior to her participation in ISTA.  Having exposure to theater arts was a great experience for her and she is interested in pursuing it further.

I was really happy she enjoyed it.

The arts add a dimension to our lives that we tend to forget about as we get caught up in the business of our day-to-day lives.  It's a good way for us to appreciate something beautiful or interesting, and divert our thinking to something other than our limited worlds.

What our PARENTS say...

Nora Lamy, mother 


Nicolas has been interested in performing for a long time. When we first heard of ISTA we thought that it would be an amazing opportunity for him to be a part of an organization designed for international school students with such great teachers, management and sponsors.  

I noticed that Nicolas became more sure of himself, happier. He just blossomed.

After the first course, I asked Nicolas why he liked ISTA so much. He answered that he was able to express himself without judgment. I think that this contributed tremendously to increasing his self-esteem. I think that the timing is perfect too. At 15, Nicolas is smack in the middle of adolescence and being a part of ISTA, is making this complex period easier for him (and us) to handle. While he has always been a social person, being part of ISTA has pushed him even further in his ability to have empathy and understanding of others. 

I knew that he would like it, but I never expected this level of commitment. He is totally dedicated to it and it is making him be a more responsible teenager as a result. 

We have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components in our personalities. The arts are important to me because they allow us to express and/or to appreciate the world using all of these components. The arts are nourishment for the soul, and thus make us more complete, well-rounded human beings. 

I would recommend ISTA to almost all parents. Certainly to those whose children have an interest in theatre, but also to those who have children in all places of the spectrum, from the very shy to the very restless. ISTA can help the shy child come out, and the restless child to follow a discipline, both in a safe, constructive environment. 


Jaia Tucker, mother 

​I have had the pleasure of having both my children be involved in ISTA courses.  I enrolled my son first.  I chose to because I was very excited to have the opportunity for him to participate in the physical movement of theatre and dance.  He is a strong athletic boy who enjoys performing on stage either as an actor or singer/musician but I noted that his physical awareness was quite low and he exhibited some overt self-conscious responses when in front of others – licking his lips, pulling his shirt, hunching his shoulders.  After participating in ISTA the movement and dance experience has completely changed the way he relates to his body.  There is a freedom and comfort in his skin that is clear in his wide spread arms and leaping.  For a 16 year old boy who sees himself as an athlete to be enamored of dance is liberating.   

The most significant struggle my daughter experienced during ISTA was to attempting to “let go” of her own desires to drive a group or collaboration with her personal ideas.   The give and take and collaboration involved in ensemble work pushes the children to move beyond their immediate ego.  As a 12 year old strong willed young lady this experience was one she was able to talk about and reflect on. 

My son has developed a physical self-confidence that serves him well in all aspects.  He is able to stand of front of an audience, class, and groups and authentically share his thoughts and ideas in a fluid way.  For my daughter she has also developed a body confidence that is so important to nurture and build for a child’s self esteem.  

I was most surprised by how exhausted the children were after the workshops.  They were clearly kept so engaged physically and mentally that a healthy tiredness was the outcome.

The Arts provide us with a vehicle to express our humanity and connection to life.  The Arts are a social commentary of the world around us and our interaction in that world.  Exposing young people to varying forms of personal expression allows them a greater depth and sophistication in their perceptions of the world around them.

Love it love it love it – what a fabulous opportunity for our children