Published on November 24, 2021

Our current Year 10 students are the first cohort to complete their Personal Projects as part of the IB Middle Years Programme at HVGS.

Personal Projects explore an area of personal interest over an extended period and require sustained effort and commitment. It was thrilling to see students’ work presented at the Personal Projects Showcase and witness first-hand some outstanding Personal Projects turn into passion projects.

We spoke to Jade Unahi and Finn Slattery-Obrien (both Year 10) about the inspiration behind their Personal Projects and how they turned out to be passion projects.

Jade Unahi

Jade has a passion for caring for vulnerable mothers and their babies. Jade’s Personal Project reflected her passion and she designed, hand-made and donated numerous hearts to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

student at stall

What made you choose this cause to focus on?

My passion lies in supporting vulnerable mothers and babies and my career plan is to become an obstetrician. My cousin had a very difficult and early delivery with her daughter, and I was able to see the struggles and challenges these parents and newborns are facing.

How did you find the process undertaking your Personal Project?

I loved the process. I knew straight away what I was passionate about and that I wanted to tap into my textile design skills and my creative side and blend my love of service with these skills.

The process was long and there was certainly challenges and obstacles. It was worth the hard work and hours of writing reflections, researching and even longer at my sewing machine. It was an extremely beneficial opportunity and I recommend to all future Year 10 students to throw themselves in and get as involved as you can. 

My biggest challenge was trying to channel my creativity and love of service into one specific area. There was a process of trial and error and of course disappointments and setbacks as there is in all journeys.

Is this project something you’d like to continue?

Although the personal project has finished, my love for this will not diminish. I have decided to continue my project for as long as I can. I will be completing my goal of 100 packs of hearts and wraps in the Christmas holidays and do not plan to stop after my initial goal is reached.

Finnegan Slattery-O’Brien

Finnegan Slattery-O’Brien wrote a novel for his Personal Project. A Tragedy of Sorts is about an exploration of belief and divinity. The protagonist lives and is then reborn three times, each time dying in a different way. The first character takes his own life out of loneliness. The second character sacrifices herself for her brother. And, the third character offers his life to save the life of a stranger accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

We caught up with Finn to chat about why he chose to write his novel and to hear about the challenges he faced along the way.

student at stall

Why did you choose to focus on this project?

I wanted to choose something I was personally interested in and that I had been planning to undertake for a long time. The project was a vessel where I could channel and refine these somewhat complex authorial plans.

What was your favourite part of completing your Personal Project?

My favourite part was writing what I enjoyed: the simple scene setting and descriptions. There is something satisfying about translating an image in your head onto the page through vivid and evocative imagery. Then mirroring that same idea in the reader’s head, hoping to engage your audience.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Refining what I had written was a challenge for me. About six months before the Personal Projects Showcase, I had a lot of words, in fact more than would be in the final piece, but it was rambling and incoherent without resolutions.

The next six months were spent ironing out inconsistencies. Another challenge I had to overcome was a lack of ending by reshuffling the entire narrative structure and re-writing scenes to fit in this new, connected vision.

Something I learnt about myself was to always rely on my creativity to back me out of a sticky situation. This can be moved along by just leaving the work, no matter what it is, and coming back to it after mulling things over in the back of your head for a while. 

I also learnt I should have got a computer monitor before writing a novel. I have given myself a bad neck by hunching over a computer for ridiculous amounts of time.

Will you continue this project or a similar project in the future?

The novel was always intended to be a longer piece, so I may come back to it months or years down the track. But writing itself, especially fiction, is something I love and will always continue to do.

I always have too many ideas for projects, it’s just a matter of picking one, developing it, sitting down and finding the time to begin.