1. You’re a senior now. Can you talk a little bit about how this year is different from the previous years?
This year feels more cohesive because of senior retreat. I don’t think there is any guy or girl I don’t get along with. That’s nice way to start senior year…and hopefully end it. I’m going to miss it here, for sure.
Academically, the pressure is heightened, but in a good way. I was finding my footing during my first two years, and now I’m more focused. I’m really interested in international relations, so during my junior year I doubled in history and English. This year I’m still doubling in humanities, taking World History; History, Culture, and Identity; Why War?; Ethics and Values; and Foundations of Western Literature.
2. Are you making connections across courses? Does that make a difference?
It gives me a leg up in the classroom. Just this week we were talking about Socrates in Foundation of Western Lit. But I learned about him last week in Ethics. I’m able to draw on what I’ve learned before, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m doing well in those classes.
But I have also learned how little I know. In World History, we learned how Mesopotamians were the first to codify laws. Even thousands of years ago societies were trying to better themselves by writing out morality and governing laws on cuneiform tablets. It wasn’t perfect, but it made me see the humanity in the first cities.
Hearing my own comments and the comments of my classmates at the beginning of Middle East Studies last year, I realized that we all came in with misconceptions. During the class grew an appreciation for Islam. Look at Turkey, and how it’s managed to stay secular. You can reconcile Islam and peaceful democracy—I hadn’t realized that, since Islam has been so vilified. It’s very interesting stuff—I’m now considering taking Arabic in college.
3. Why do you come to school every day?
I was shocked during freshman year because I liked going to school. Eighth grade was boring—it was just the same routines, and I knew that I would be switching schools. Coming to MA, I’m way more excited to get in the classroom and use what I’ve learned. I’m not trying to prove myself; everyone here enjoys being intellectual. It’s also nice to get outside of San Francisco and meet other kids.
4. What would you say to somebody who lives in SF and doesn’t want to drive?
Reverse commute. I can get here in 30 minutes.
One of the most beautiful things is driving across the bridge every day. It’s great when there’s no traffic or fog. When you are going south and coming through the tunnel, everything opens up and you can see the bridge and the water. And, last year, a Russian billionaire’s yacht.
On the weekends I still hang out in the city more. Probably one weekend in Marin to every four in the city. As it happens, my closest friends live within five blocks of me. But Marin kids want to come to the city, so I see all of my Marin friends too.
5. What else do you do at MA?
Sports play a pretty big role. Not competitively, but for making friends. I played soccer and lacrosse for a few years, and now I’m concentrating on lacrosse. It’s a big passion of mine. It’s nice to get into a team that’s new—you feel like you’re on equal footing. It’s such an accepting and accommodating team. I had never played before, so I went to captains’ practices to learn. Our league isn’t that stiff competition, but we got to scrimmages bigger schools. That helped us improve a lot.
I’m also involved with Daraja Academy. I saw the YouTube video and wanted to do it. I didn’t want it to be a disingenuous thing—an adventure program where you pay to put finishing touches on a school. It wasn’t that at all. We had a real connection with the school and made some good friends. I helped teach computer skills, math, and English, and learned some Swahili. I’m really excited to see them go to college, and I want to go back this summer.