I will graduate from high school having spent my entire academic career within one, and only one, educational institution. I entered ASL as a kindergarten student, and I will exit as a senior having spent no time as a student elsewhere.
ASL is the place in which I have made my closest friends and have grown the most academically and intellectually with the help of incredible teachers. Simply put, I was, and still am, in a great learning environment.
That said, I have no other learning environment with which to compare ASL. There are different schools out there that might have been better fits for my personality and learning style, but ASL will forever be my second home behind Syria due to the deep connections, both academic and social, that I have strengthened in my 13 years here.
Note that I regard ASL, not London, as my second home. The phrase “ASL bubble” is often bandied around by critics of the student culture that ASL creates, one that supposedly discourages students from experiencing greater London due to the combination of fear and convenience. To summarize the concept of the “ASL bubble” with a question: ‘It’s a scary, unknown world out there so why supplement what ASL offers me when what ASL offers me is enough?’
What a shame. I admit that ASL dragged me into and kept me in its supposed “bubble” for a while, the temptation proving irresistible considering my extensive time at the school. I have not explored London enough, especially as I have lived in this incredibly diverse city full of enriching opportunities for nearly all my life. My eyes were opened by the summer work experience I obtained at fashion website ThreadsTV.
Last summer, for two consecutive weeks, I left home at 9 a.m., hopped on the tube for 45 minutes, and arrived at Hackney Wick station, the nearest stop to the office of ThreadsTV, a workplace no bigger than the offices of Dean of Students Joe Chodl and Attendance Officer Akay Mustafa combined.
I wrote several product reviews, explored East London clothing factories and met a host of new people, each one with a background more diverse than the last. I even traveled to NASS, an action sports and music festival, to report on the entertainment on offer there.
I am no fashion guru, but I applied my enthusiasm for writing and learning to function in a brand new world.
Indeed, the opportunity to work with ThreadsTV came to me as a stroke of luck. Hamish Stephenson (’14) put me in touch with a few key individuals at ThreadsTV, who were more than happy to take a fashion novice on board, provided that I would work hard to obtain the skills necessary for the job.
The experience finally sucked me out of the “ASL bubble”. I will never forget the connections I made at ThreadsTV, and I still keep in touch with those wonderful individuals who took a risk and employed me over the summer. I am extremely grateful for their tutelage and support.
So, to all of you who have applied for the ASL Work Experience program or are looking for work experience this summer through other avenues: Take advantage of the experience. Get out of your comfort zone, the “ASL bubble”. And then stay in touch with those who were gracious enough to offer you a desk in their office.
You will grow as a person by exploring an unknown world, especially if you have been at ASL for as long as I have. At this stage in our young lives, it is certainly worthwhile to explore for the sake of our growth.