Yousif Alnawakhtha is completing his second year at Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut, USA to earn an American High School Diploma, before starting his university degree. During his first year at Loomis, Yousif eagerly assimilated into his new surroundings and created strong bonds among his peers and faculty, earning himself a seat on the student council, was chosen to be the RA (Resident Assistant) at his dormitory, and was appointed as orientation leader. He is also the editor of his school’s newspaper “World Bulletin”, and is working on an independent study on Differential Equations. Yousif recounts how his first year at boarding school opened his eyes to various opportunities and experiences:
“I know most people would shiver at the thought of going back to school after just graduating--twelve years are more than enough. Not for me though. It’s not that I wasn’t ready for college, but I didn’t really mind some buffer time. Still, I didn’t expect it to be the greatest experience of my life.”
“Last year I entered Loomis Chaffee as a repeating junior where I was placed on a floor filled with sophomores. After a couple of weeks, some dodge ball games, and a few dorm barbeques, I started becoming really close with some people in the dorm. I was spending more time in the common-room than in my room. I owe most of the great moments I had in Loomis to my dorm-mates and the dorm-affiliates; they truly were a second family to me and provided me with the support I needed throughout the year. In-fact, during my time in Loomis I never felt homesick, but I did feel severely dorm-sick when I was back home!”
“I was excited to hear that I was chosen as a Residential Assistant in Batch (short for Batchelder--the dorm I live in) for the following year. As an RA, I act as a liaison between the dorm-faculty and the students, making sure that everything in the dorm runs smoothly, from roommate dynamics to academic issues to personal problems. Most importantly, I get to make sure that the dorm maintains its fun culture that helped me get accustomed with the new life style.”
“Living far away from home, there are numerous things you begin to miss and they’re often the little things that you’d take for granted. Fortunately, I was quick to realize that clubs in a boarding school are more than just hobbies. I found that clubs replaced the activities that I would be doing back home, in some sort of sense. One of the things I missed the most was construction work with my dad, which is why I initially joined Robotics and Theater Tech. Getting my hands on power tools and being free to climb scaffolds certainly filled the void I had. Robotics grew on me further and further as the time went by; this year, I’ve been spending around eight hours a week in the robotics lab.
“I’ve had so many great experiences in such a short time, from snow-sledging during Nemo, to spending an entire night singing pina-colada as a dorm during Sandy. Some of the best times I’ve had, however, were camping in the Adirondacks with friends, canoeing and fishing in the Saranac lakes.”
“All these things shaped my character in ways I wouldn’t have expected. I believe that the credit is due to Loomis’s inclusive community that tempts people to contribute with what they can. That was also the reason I decided to join the Student Council: to insure that the school custom fits the student body. I really have only one thing to say for new scholars that will undergo the journey: what you get from it depends on what you give to it.”