Monthly Archives: March 2012

Revisit Day, 2008 (?!)

Julia H. ’12
Merrimac, MA
Day Student

For the spring season, two of our seniors are going to be sharing their thoughts, concerns, and reflections on the final few months of their time at the Academy. Some posts will be the about the same topic, while other times they will tackle different subjects. Regardless of the topic, hopefully this will provide a look into the lives of two seniors as they wind down their Governor’s careers.

I sat in the overly crowded Geometry classroom struggling to understand anything the teacher was saying. Clearly, my middle school math experience had not taken me to this level yet. I sat the entire forty-five minutes without making a sound I was so nervous. I grew a little bored keeping my attention on the teacher, although truthfully, I was not focusing on anything he was saying. Instead, my attention was on the students sitting around the desks in the classroom. Thinking about how I would be going to school with these kids next year somewhat overwhelmed me. That feeling only grew when I made my way over to the Student Center after class, which was buzzing with students for break time. This was me during my revisit day to Govs four years ago. I must admit I felt a little lost that day which made me anxious for the beginning of high school. I had those typical scary thoughts of: will I make friends? will I be happy here? In fact, I’m feeling them again as I approach the start of college and the next chapter of my life.

It took me a while to get situated to the new environment of high school and find my niche at Govs, and this distressed me a bit. But the best advice for that is the classic cliché of “Be yourself!” Govs is place where it is easy to form relationships with everyone on campus, as long as one is open to being their self. Of course every school tries to sell their friendliness, but I truly mean it when I say the people at Govs are what have made my experience here memorable. Even being a day-student, the close knit community feel of Govs is something we can pride ourselves in. I will truly miss next year walking through a campus and being able to personally greet everyone I pass.

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Meet Student Blogger Number Two: Julia

For the spring season, two of our seniors are going to be sharing their thoughts, concerns, and reflections on the final few months of their time at the Academy. Some posts will be the about the same topic, while other times they will tackle different subjects. Regardless of the topic, hopefully this will provide a look into the lives of two seniors as they wind down their Governor’s careers.

I like to say I live by the motto: “Try new things.”

This phrase is what has led me to writing this very article. One of the perks of going to Govs is the opportunities offered to me to stay true to this expression. I have had my fair share of afternoon activities over my four years ranging from painting, soccer, and even cross country (that was a tough one). Although I would not call myself a natural born athlete, I still enjoyed the multitude of opportunities to try new.

Now, as I near the end of my senior year, I once again test myself to stay true to my motto and take the chance to test out something new. This time it is blogging. Any type of communications marketing is a foreign territory to me but, I am curious to learn. With this curiosity does come some doubts like: will people want to read what I have to say? Or how will I think of ideas to write about? However, being a wise senior I like to think I know everything (even though my parents disagree) so how could I not be good at writing blogs? I guess the only way for me to find out is taking the risk to try.

Blogging will be a new journey to add to my collection and I hope I can leave a positive mark at Govs from it. All in all, I am extremely excited this spring to be involved in student blogging!

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Meet Student Blogger Number One: Isabel

For the spring season, two of our seniors are going to be sharing their thoughts, concerns, and reflections on the final few months of their time at the Academy. Some posts will be the about the same topic, while other times they will tackle different subjects. Regardless of the topic, hopefully this will provide a look into the lives of two seniors as they wind down their Governor’s careers.

For the past three and half years, I have noticed that I tend to get somewhat anxious when the seasons begin to change. Not because of the fact that I will have to restock my closet with the appropriate winter or spring attire, and not because it usually signals the end of a marking period when I will soon be receiving my grades. It is because it means it’s time for me to sign up for my new “afternoon activity.” For most students, this process is pretty painless and requires nothing but a simple email or discussion with his or her advisor. For me, it’s a different story.

My name is Isabel M. and I’m from Westport, Connecticut. I’m currently a senior at Govs and have boarded here since my freshman year. Over the past few years I have longingly searched for the perfect afternoon activity. I’ve tried just about everything from soccer and basketball to yoga and knitting, but none of these activities left me feeling particularly satisfied. This leaves me with the simple yet important question: what do I do? I have attempted to answer the perplexing question eleven times and have failed to find the right answer…eleven times!

About a week before spring break, I started to feel overwhelmed by that familiar yet discomforting feeling. Because it is my senior year and this spring season will be my last season ever at Govs, I wanted to make sure I chose correctly. How do I really want to spend my time? What kind of note do I want to end on?

I want to feel like I have done something productive with my last two and a half months at the Academy. Govs has been my life for the past four years and the time has flown by so fast I’ve barely had a chance to look back on my own experiences here, let alone share them with other people.

I finally knew what I wanted to do. This spring, as my afternoon activity, I will be posting on this blog. I will be writing about experiences I’ve had while at Govs, thoughts that have been provoked by classmates, teachers, convocation speakers, or friends, and my feelings that develop as graduation day approaches. So, I hope you read and enjoy my posts! I’m so happy I have finally found a way to contribute to the community.

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Berlin! by Mei Li

When our small group decided to go on a day trip, Berlin seemed like the best option. It’s close, accessible, and loaded with history that continued themes from Ledice and Terezín. The train ride is about five hours long. As a group, we decided to try to leave at the break of dawn and be back in Prague for the night.

The day began bright and early for us all. We met at Prague’s main train station, Hlavni Nadrazi, to catch the 6:30 train to Berlin. Luckily, we found a compartment with enough room to stretch out and take a nap.

At 11:30, we arrived in Berlin’s main train station. We weren’t quite sure where on the map we were, so in the end, we just started walking and ended up at a historical landmark: the Brandenburg Gate. Our free walking tour started there, but we had an hour before it began. After walking around the block, it was unanimously decided that Prague and Berlin both have very unique and different vibes. Prague is characterized by narrow cobblestone streets winding around the banks of the Vltava river. Untouched during the war, it still has much of its old architecture. On the other hand, Berlin was in shambles after the war and had to be almost completely rebuilt. The remarkable contrast between the two was a reminder of the Berlin’s complicated and deeply scarred history.

Our walking tour began at the Brandenburg Gate and ended across the river in the Museum district. Amy, our tour guide, was from London. Although I was unsure about a tour at the beginning, by the end of the trip, I was very glad we had taken one. Berlin has so much history! Walking around with someone who presented it to us made the city come alive. Instead of just seeing a French Chapel, we learned that a historical leader of Germany had wanted to boost the population and built that church for French Protestant refugees. Clearly, I don’t remember all the specifics, but seeing a building or site in context makes all the difference. Our tour lasted about 4 hours, ending with a humorous rendition of one man’s mistake (he forgot to thoroughly read his notes before an international press conference) that lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

At the end, we had just enough time to walk leisurely back to the train station, where we hopped aboard a 6:45 pm train that returned to Prague at 11:30.

A long day, for sure, but definitely worth it! We’re in Europe, might as well lose a couple of hours of sleep to make the most of the experience.

 

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Last Days at ALA posted by Maud Smith Hamovit

It is Saturday, our last full day at the African Leadership Academy. Jalina, Imogene and I have had a very busy week.On Tuesday we visited Constitution Hill, the site of a late 19th century fort, turned infamous prison, and finally the current site of the constitutional court. The remains of some of the prison blocks, the toilets and outdoor showers, the solitary confinement cells serve as grim reminders of South Africa’s past, but they stand right next to the present and the future.  One of the interior walls of the court is built from bricks salvaged from the demolished prison walls and the stairwell from the Awaiting Trial building from the prison houses the eternal flame of South African democracy.

From Constitution Hill we made our way to the Apartheid Museum, driving past the stripped bare remnants of the gold mines that built Johannesburg.  The Apartheid Museum is an impressive place, filled with images that are haunting, many of them so familiar for those visitors who were alive and aware during Apartheid, especially the photos of Steve Biko, beaten and tortured to death in a Cape Town jail. The museum winds like a maze, but in the end there is Reconciliation (and daylight)!

Thursday (the first real rainy day we have had; a steady rain very different from the afternoon thunderstorms that come out of nowhere and rumble on into the evening) brought us to Soweto. We were accompanied by Roger Katende, the teacher from ALA who will be coming to Govs in a few weeks with Elisabeth and Hayat, the exchange students.  We began at the Hector Pieterson Museum. Hector Pieterson was the 13 year old boy killed by the police in Soweto during a 1976 student demonstration to protest the Bantu education laws–the laws that mandated that Black children be educated in Afrikaans, a language that almost no Blacks in South Africa spoke. Once again, we were riveted by the images presented to us of events that occured a mere thirty-five years ago. Next we cisited Nelson Mandela’s house in the Orlando section of Soweto, right up the street from the house where Bishop Desmond Tutu lived for years.  In fact, this is the only street in the world that can boast being the home of TWO Nobel Peace Prize winners. Finally, we ended our tour of Soweto with a visit to the Regina Mundi church at the center of Soweto. This is the church to which the children fled when the shooting broke out at the student demonstration.  There are still bullet holes in the ceiling of the church.

Last night we saw a performance called “Umoja” (the spirit of unity) at the Victory Theatre in Joburg. The production traces the history of South Africa through music and dance–both of which were incredible. And now it’s Saturday morning classes, then dorm cleaning, then a trip to a local mall. Tonight we will have a farewell party in the dorm. Then a hike by a waterfall on Sunday, and then it’s off to the airport.

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Cape Town, posted by Maud Smith Hamovit

The thing about Cape Town, more specifically Table Mountain, is that sometimes it is gorgeous and clear, and sometimes it is shrouded in clouds, (or wearing a tablecloth, as the locals say). And sometimes there are gale-force winds from the east that prevent the cable cars from running up the mountain, which is what happened to Imogene, Jalina, Alison Rodseth and me this past weekend. Did we let that dampen our trip to the end of the continent? Heck, no!

Our weekend trip to Cape Town was repelete with a visit to the penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Point National Park, a drive across Chapman’s Peak, the Victoria and Alfred (not Albert) Waterfront, and Bo-Kaap, the Muslim neighborhood of Cape Town. I will post some photos from our travels.

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Prague Update by Mei Li Johnson

After an uneventful flight made sweeter by some complementary Swiss chocolate, we arrived here in Prague. Mr. Falk, the high school president and my host dad, met us at the airport. My host family has been so much fun! I have three host siblings, Andrea (16), Mark (14) and Sara (11). I’ve really enjoyed spending time with them and getting to know them.

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So far, we have been to a few tourist sites and attended classes. Our first weekend here, we visited Terezín and Ledice. Although neither of them are cheerful or fun places, the history behind each is meaningful and very powerful. On Monday, we lightened the mood with a trip to the large and impressive Prague Zoo. On Tuesday night, we went to the ballet in the Prague National Theatre. The architecture in that building and in all of Prague is breathtaking. Prague seems to offer an abundance of little excursions, including parks, museums, historical sites and an amazing variety of entertainment.

I’ve been sitting in on art classes, spanish classes, a religious education class, and a math class. Class has been entertaining and fun. The great thing about going to school as a guest is that I get to learn without the stress and strain of grades or tests and quizzes. I’ve also found this to be a very telling experience. The classes I’d like to visit give me an accurate read on which classes I enjoy most.e National Theatre. The architecture in that building and in all of Prague is breathtaking. Prague seems to offer an abundance of little excursions, including parks, museums, historical sites and an amazing variety of entertainment.

So far, I have to say the best part of the trip has been, for me, the international component to the school. Although I am not speaking much Czech because it is a British system, I have met people from all around the world. At Governor’s, we have our international population, but there is a clear distinction between international students and local students. In this school, probably around 75% of the students are international. Accents are not rare; they are part of a person’s identity and go unnoticed. Asking someone where they are from isn’t unusual as the variety of different countries represented is extremely diverse. I’m so excited we have two weeks more to fill with exciting adventures! Even though I am already here, I still cannot believe how lucky I am to have been able to go on this trip.

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