Meet Daniel Ham
Learn more about Daniel Ham, Alumni (Class of 2004; K1-12th grade)
Where are you living now?
New York City
What did you do after you left ISL? What did you study at University?
I took at gap year, which was unusual for ISL students at the time, to teach English in China and work on marine conservation in Mexico. I read history for my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Cambridge, ultimately earning a PhD in 2012.
What are you doing now?
I’ve been working for the United Nations World Food Programme since 2013. I’ve been fortunate to work on a range of humanitarian projects, from providing food assistance in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, to coordinating a hurricane response in Haiti, to monitoring a school meals programme in the Republic of Congo. I’m currently seconded to a different part of the UN – the Central Emergency Response Fund – where I help manage funding grants that enable the UN to deliver life-saving assistance to crises all over the world, including COVID-19.
Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?
Definitely. ISL provided me with a first-class education that opened many doors. Sadly, so many talented young people around the world don’t have access to quality education. The school’s diversity also taught me the importance of being a champion for equality. Finally, my teachers inspired me to pursue my passions as both a humanitarian aid worker and a historian.
What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
ISL taught me many skills, including languages. Luxembourg is an incredibly multi-lingual society, so ISL students can have a great start.
The French I learnt at ISL helped me land my first-choice job. However, there were times at ISL when I struggled to find the motivation to learn additional foreign languages. I urge current ISLers to persevere – that 2nd or 3rd foreign language may just help you unlock your dream career.
Were you involved in any clubs/activities at ISL? What did you enjoy about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
Looking back, I wish I had joined in more. It was only in university that I realized I was passionate about competitive sports, especially rowing.
I encourage current students to take full advantage of all the school has to offer. And if you don’t feel like you belong in any existing groups, work with the school to create new opportunities. You’ll probably find there are other students out there with similar interests.
How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?
I attended ISL from kindergarten through 12th grade, so I’d be surprised if it didn’t shape me! I am grateful for the lifelong friendships I made, and for the formative experiences – positive and challenging – that helped me get to where I am today. The school also shaped my family: my mother was a kindergarten and pre-school teacher for many years. She is always touched by invitations from her former students to attend their senior graduations, and she loves hearing how her ‘little ones’ are getting on post-ISL. The fact that so many students retain strong bonds with their former teachers and mentors is one of the school’s incredible legacies.
What do you think is unique about ISL?
The staff and the facilities.