CPISP scholar Marwa AlAlawi is completing her first year of boarding school at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts, USA where she will eventually receive an American High School Diploma before applying to university in the US next year. She shares how the countless opportunities she has encountered during her boarding school experience have benefitted her academically and on a personal level.
“Spending two semesters here in Andover has taught me invaluable lessons. In terms of academics, I expected Andover’s classes to greatly improve my critical thinking skills, and hone my learning experience, and I believe it has. The greatest improvements came from the sheer amount of group major assignments, college level courses and challenging topics tossed into classroom discussions. I remember how my physics and math teacher would always say that ‘being challenged academically gives more room to the growth of mindsets’; their words have really influenced my learning experience as I feel I have become more adept at grasping difficult concepts before being part of the Andover community.”
“While Andover is famous for its rigorous academic courses, it also stands out for the wide variety of extracurricular opportunities it offers. This term, I am participating in a community service program called “PALS” where I teach math to middle school students in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Although the program only meets twice week, I consider it a great study break and a wonderful opportunity to help enrich Lawrence middle school students with essential study skills and learning strategies. I also worked close with high school students from Andover High and other Lawrence high schools participating in the program, which helped expand my social network even off campus.”
“Taking advantage of my artistic skills, I participated in the Second Annual New England New Year’s Greeting Card Contest of the Consulate General of Japan and was awarded third place. For the competition, each participant had to design a Japanese New Year card by hand and submit it to the Japanese Embassy in Boston. There were 1200 entries in this year’s competition and winners had their cards taken to the Children Museum in Boston and then put on display at the Japanese Embassy.”
“I have also written two articles in an Andover student-run magazine called Andover International Review or AIR in short. My first article, titled ‘In the Land of the Blindfolded,’ explored the status of women in Islam, with attempts to remove any faulty misconceptions or ambiguity linked to the image of female Muslims. (Link: http://www.andoverinternationalreview.com/#!in-the-land-of-the-blindfolded/c1eej) My second article, ‘Charlie Hebdo: A Muslim View,’ came as a response to the Charlie Hebdo events that took in Paris, since the Muslim voice seemed to be neglected in the flames of the event.” (Link: http://www.andoverinternationalreview.com/#!charlie-hebdo-2-a-muslim-view/cym)
“In the fall term, I took part in a fashion show called ‘iFashion’ by wearing the traditional Bahraini “Thoub Al Nashel” which everyone thought was elaborate and beautiful. And when asked to share a fun fact about Bahrain, most of the audience was surprised to learn that Bahrain meant ‘two seas’ in Arabic. Not to mention that my host family and I prepared ‘balaleet’ for the Annual Potluck Dinner; a dinner for international students and their host families.”
“I was also assigned to carry Bahrain’s flag during a flag procession ceremony at the beginning of the year which was a great honor. So, when Dr. Gessling told me ‘Why not consider Phillips Academy?’ she really knew that this community would fit me best. For that I'm grateful; I’m really glad I came here.”