Evaluating our extreme ‘norms’

Evaluating our extreme 'norms'

LAURA GALLIGAN STAFF WRITER

Many ASL students complain about the school trips they are so fortunate to take. This happens so much that it has become the norm. ASL’s definition of normal is set to a different standard than most American high schools. It is more than our academic rigor and where we matriculate; it’s the type of people we’ve grown accustomed to. Because we are fortunate enough to travel so often with school, we often complain about many smaller aspects of the trips. But what many people in the ASL community need to realize is the ability we have to take these trips at all is very rare.

Hearing my classmates’ comments on the last two school trips I have been on has disgusted me. Granted, triple session workouts for crew camp in Spain, on top of being a second semester junior, were exhausting, and the fruit served at the hotel in Madeira for my Alternative this year was not the best I had ever had, but many of my peers let small things ruin their whole trip.

Exhaustion and bad fruit turned into wanting to go home days before the trip ended. My trip-mates forgot they could have been sitting in class staring at the clock. They forgot to step back and be thankful.

Imagine yourself at a school other than ASL. Think of where you were born, and pic- ture yourself in a non-international school. Whether or not you would be at a private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or a public school in rural Kansas, you would not have many of the opportunities that you do at ASL. First of all, a trip similar to the ones provided by Alternatives would most likely not be a part of your tuition, and, unless you lived near the border of Canada, travelling to another country would not be feasible and would cost a lot more money.

I don’t mean to sound like someone who works in the admissions office, but I would bet you would choose traveling to a championship game with ASL – or any other similar school for that matter – in Paris or Amsterdam rather than, like my brother, to Newark, New Jersey where you have to be wary of gang violence if your team won the game.

 Rather than getting bogged down on the details, remember the big picture. If you have the time, volunteer. The people you meet in community partnerships will envy the opportunities you take for granted. Many of them will never know what its like to take four days off from school and go hiking in the Alps, for example.

Next time you are at ISSTs, don’t let your housing arrangements or the result of your games alter your opinion of having the opportunity to play a sport in another country at the high school level. Don’t choose a London Alternative because your peers have told you that they did not enjoy theirs abroad in years past. Enter your travels with an open mind and stay positive. You can and will enjoy it.

I encourage you all to not only take part in, but also enjoy your ASL trips. Perhaps we can change how we view them. If we step back and look at the big picture, we can allow for future ASL high school students to appreciate how fortunate we are, without petty complaints getting in the way. If we don’t take advantage of our good fortunes at ASL, we will regret the lost opportunities in the future. And, if we play our cards right, enjoying a four-day venture to Florence could perhaps become “normal.”

laura_galligan@asl.org