Category Archives: A Day in the Life

Coming Full Circle

by Kim Major, associate director of admission

Last week was my favorite week of the year, hands down. While my children think I am crazy (they think the last day of summer vacation is the worst!), I know I am right. You see, last week was orientation for our new students and the start of our new academic year here at George School.

So, why was that the best? I mean, the start of the academic year to faculty and admission officers means back to long workdays. It means many, many meetings. It means late nights, tired eyes, and no more trips to the beach or the pool. I already miss those trips to the beach and the pool. HOWEVER, what it also means is that I get to see the fruits of last year’s labor. All of the students with whom I worked so hard last year – at admission events, in interviews, in follow-up phone calls, meetings, and emails – I get to see all of them on campus, here and now as students!

Over the last year, I got to know 170 new students, most of them in person in some capacity. I knew we admitted a rocketry wizard, and I got to make sure our robotics and engineering faculty knew about her. I knew we had at least four students who count ukulele as a big-time hobby, and I got to let them know about one another (some pretty cool jam sessions are about to go down in our dorms). I knew that one of our students had a really challenging summer and was feeling a bit down, and I got to make sure his advisor was prepared to offer a little extra love. I got to understand, before the rest of the school, that our new students are going to knock the socks off of our faculty and returning students. Now everyone gets to know it and I get to see the joy that brings.

Many people see admission officers as gatekeepers, standing at the school doors and judging who gets to come in. While we certainly have a difficult task in making admission decisions, we aren’t gatekeepers. No, I see myself more as a matchmaker. Through the admission process, I help students to navigate the admission process (and sometimes that means helping them to find a match that is better suited to their particular needs). And, when the school year starts, my matchmaker skills kick into high gear as the entire school prepares to welcome them. I help in the faculty advising and roommate pairing processes and work with families to match them with the resources they will need to get started here at George School.

So, when move-in and registration days roll around, it all comes together, and it is magic. The best part? I know that I have two, three, or four years more with these students and I get to see all the dreams they talked about in the application process come true – and I get to see them discover new dreams they didn’t even know they had!

That, to me, is what makes George School so special. New students aren’t a number. Each new student is a person, a part of a family, a dreamer, a do-er, an artist, an athlete, and so much more. When they start their first day here, they start with many, many people knowing quite a bit about who they are, and they already have a jumpstart in helping them to reach their goals.

Here’s to another terrific year!

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How We All Live To Let Our Lives Speak

2004_Jessica (Jess) M. Klaphaak

by Jess Klaphaak ’04

In recent years, I have come to be a rather active member of the Quaker meeting here in Copenhagen. Every Sunday I sit with Ulla and Mogens, both are over 90 years old, who lived through World War II and took part in the Danish resistance against the Nazis. It is quite an experience to listen to their stories of vandalizing fighter jets and sewing dresses from fallen parachutes to hide the evidence of soldiers escaping from battle. We have about ten regular members and at 30, I am the youngest of our little group by about three decades.

At the beginning of July, my family and I went to the Scandinavian Yearly Meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden. There were over 120 participants from Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The three of us went as the only participants from Denmark. One afternoon, I sat with the executive secretary of FWCC-EMES and we had a-one-on one conversation about the challenges that face all Quaker communities across Europe. I voiced my concern that our biggest challenge in Denmark is building community, getting people to stay and take on responsibility and that I personally struggle with a feeling of hopelessness for our community that has recently been affecting my motivation and drive.

Being a Quaker and going to Yearly Meeting and other Quaker retreats was such a big part of my childhood and teenage years, and subsequently my adult life, that it is difficult to witness the community that always seemed to sail so smoothly, struggle so hard to keep afloat. Here in Copenhagen, I often feel like I am alone on the mast of a sinking ship. What should I do? Should I jump into the lifeboat of mindfulness or Buddhism or should I climb down and repair the holes myself? For now, I choose to patch the holes. Quakerism offers something more than mindfulness and obviously something different from Buddhism.

As a whole, my experience in Gothenburg left me with the sense that we are all delicately connected—a connection that exists because we, as Quakers, reach out beyond ourselves to actively create community. Perhaps Quakers are particularly good at this because, in my opinion, a true sense of community is formed when we answer that of God in others.

Community is by definition something bigger than one’s self. It is a network of connections to which we belong. Even though un-programmed meetings face dwindling membership across the planet, the few who stick around often accomplish great things through service efforts and lobbying activities. Silence is merely a tool we use to listen to our inner Light, but it is what we do with the messages we receive that defines us, both as individuals and as a group. When a group of over 120 active and engaged Quakers meet, in spite of cultural and language barriers, it is impossible not to feel how we all live to let our lives speak.

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A Reflection on Life After Graduation

Sarah Kelly

by Sarah Kelly ’17 

On May 28 I graduated from George School. On August 17 I will be moving in to my dorm at Philadelphia University. This summer and the time I have had between these two dates has been probably the most exciting time of my life, as I gather up all my dorm supplies, meet new friends, find a roommate, figure out my schedule, go to orientation, and so much more.

But with this excitement, also comes anxiety. I grew up on this campus, from being at the George School Children’s Center, then Newtown Friends School, and then George School again. I have known some of my friends since I was 2 years old and a student in the Children’s Center. These 81 days between high school graduation and the start of my college career, have been and will continue to be strange. I am no longer a George School student, but I am still only barely part of the Philadelphia University community. This is the first time I will be in a community other than George School.

If I had to give advice to rising seniors of George School, or any high school for that matter, it is not to worry about this potentially awkward in-between time. Instead, use this time to focus and try to identify your own identity, not relating to what school or community you belong to. Although it may feel like you don’t belong to anywhere during this time, that is ok, because you learn a lot more about your own self during times like these. You will have plenty of time to shape your identity around a community in the next four, five, six, or more years in college. And if this task is too daunting, too scary, then don’t sweat it. Because once you are part of the George School community, you never really leave it. It is ok to be part of more than one community. Just do not let leaving this one, great, small, George School community make joining a new one difficult. Just because you graduate, does not mean you cannot talk to your old friends. Remember you are not alone, because everyone else is experiencing the same feelings you are. Trust me. I did too.

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Why I Chose the IB Program

2017-05-22-15

Teacher Kathy Rodgers helps with a class assignment. 

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

When I was about twelve, I started thinking about college. I was not sure of much, but I knew I wanted to go far, possibly even outside the country. My mom has a few friends who live in California and the school their kids go to offers the International Baccalaureate diploma. I first heard of it over the phone when I was in seventh grade. I looked it up and was drawn into the information I found.

The idea of having six subjects and having an equal balance in each interested me. At first, I worried about the arts, but I figured out that I could double in a subject to replace it. After thinking about it for a couple of months, I talked to my mom about my findings. I was really interested in getting this diploma. I was convinced it would make me a better student and wanted the opportunity to engage in this deeper level thinking.

She gave me the green light to go ahead and research schools. That’s actually how I found George School. When I got here, I was not sure what would happen. I did not know if I would change my mind and drop the IB idea. But two years later, I am a likely IB candidate. I plan to take two standard level exams, Spanish and Economics, and four higher level exams, English, Latin, Math, and Biology. The rest of my classes are a sprinkling of APs. I am doubling in language and not taking an art.

I know this is going to be very difficult, but I am prepared. The IB diploma is something I have been working towards for three years now. I love the thought of learning to think critically. I am anxious for a chance to write essays of deeper level thinking. I want to learn, but I don’t want to focus in one subject. I want to be a well-rounded academic and I feel like IB offers me more resources to do that.

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Weekend Boarder Life

2017-02-13-25

Students build a snowman during a weekend winter snowstorm.

by Bea Feicenbiner ’19

As a boarding student, sometimes I am left wondering what I can do on weekends. Every weekend has a theme, but some have more activities than others. Weekends like Harvest Weekend and Student Council Weekend are jam packed with things to do. All of the weekends can be fun for the students, but some, like Alumni Weekend, have less activities than others.

Of course, my roommate is always there and I have friends in my dorm. On weekends, more often than not, I have a friend sleepover in my room or I sleep in hers. I can walk into Newtown to get some ice cream or go to Starbucks. Sometimes we will walk over to the shopping center across the street and get lunch before running errands to Giant or Rite Aid. Newtown Book and Record has a great variety of entertainment if I need something new. There is a lot to do around town on the weekends.

My personal favorite weekend is Student Council Weekend. SAGE, another club I am a part of, also has a weekend. We do fun activities that include bonding opportunities with members of the community that otherwise you might not have met. Harvest Weekend is super fun, especially for boarders. Day students are invited too, but for domestic boarders who do not get to spend as much time with their family. Carving pumpkins and making buttercream brings people together. For international students, the Harvest Weekend activities might be the first time they are experiencing these things. Other weekends are club affiliated. Umoja Weekend and Footbag Weekend happened not long ago and they both included events that were fun for the whole campus.

There are other things to do instead of weekend activities and day trips to Newtown. The Deans’ office is always open to hang out in and the SAGE room is open Friday and Saturday too. During the warmer months, there is four-square on Red Square and during the colder months, you can borrow sleds from the Deans’ Office and sled down South Lawn. If you’re looking for a quiet place to study, the library is open on both Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes dorm parents and prefects will host activities, like tea parties or clothing swaps.

No matter what the weekend is, there is plenty to do, so you should not worry about being bored.

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“Be Authentic”

Dana

Dana Falsetti ’11 during assembly.

by Bea Feichtenbiner ’19

Lots of college students have no clue what they want to do with their life. They wander aimlessly from class to class, stressed but not overly worried for their future. They commit to multiple majors before choosing a career. Dana Falsetti ’11, a plus-sized yoga teacher and Instagram blogger, was one of these students.

During her college years, Dana thought she wanted to be a lawyer. Little did she know, her calling was something else entirely. Now, instead of practicing law, she travels the world teaching inclusive yoga. Recently, she has been to Arkansas, Denver, Seattle, and Thailand. She is only twenty-three, yet she seems to have a world of knowledge.

“Growing up,” Dana said during a recent George School assembly presentation, “my life was defined by the numbers on the scale.” Dana struggled with her weight all throughout childhood. In her sophomore year of college, she lost over a hundred pounds. She expected to feel happier, prouder, and better. However, this was when she hit her lowest of lows. The expectation she had was shattered. She felt the same as before she lost the weight, just lighter.

It was the summer after her sophomore year when she started yoga, on a spur of the moment decision. A studio near her house was offering classes for the summer for a relatively low price and she just went to check it out. She expected it to be easy, but her expectations were again shattered. Not only did she struggle immensely in the class, but she blamed it on her weight. She hated the class, but she went back again anyway because she “had something to prove to myself.”

After taking yoga classes all summer, Dana started an Instagram account that now has over 280,000 followers.

Instagram now calls Dana a public figure, while Buzzfeed wrote an article called “19 Badass Instagrammers Who Prove Yoga Bodies Come in All Shapes And Sizes” that featured her. She has been on the cover of Om Yoga Magazine, she was nominated for a 2017 Shorty Awards for Excellence in Social Media (Health & Wellness), and she has a combined social media following of over half a million.

Her Instagram documents her life as a yoga teacher, body activist, and empowered woman with captions that read like journal entries. Each one promotes body positivity, confidence, and strength.

Social media has been a favorite of trolls and haters since its creation, but Dana does not worry about this. She ignores the comments against her by simply not caring about those opinions. She is happy with who she is and her goal is to help others be as happy as her.

So her best advice? “Be authentic.”

 

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How many clubs is too many clubs?

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by Eden McEwen ‘17

Who remembers club fair? The throngs of underclassmen and overeager club leaders put on the show of a festival, offering everything from mini donuts to fun sized candies to samosas as not so subtle bribes for student emails and half hearted pledges of  interest. The Fitness and Athletic Center last September was stuffed with dreamy promises of a club filled future. What happened to those promises?

The first weeks of a club are glorious. As a long time club leader I can tell you 30+ people at a meeting feels like an early Christmas. But by Christmas, the email lists or Outlook group members dwindle from plenty to enough to depressing. That is just the number of those willing to receive the weekly emails, never mind who actually bothers to show up.

Why does every club season have such a drop off? And why, every fall, do two dozen clubs pop back up just to die before November? It seems that we have too many clubs and too few club survivors. The culture of clubs at George School follows a steep wave of interest, but there must be a secret to those who survive the winter.

The long lasting clubs are easy to name. Argo, JSA, MUN, Body Project, UMOJA, Open Doors, Goldfish, and Java. They fulfill the basic needs of club culture, hitting on the basic interests of George School students. Other clubs have been born and died all the while, or existed as a “why not” instead of a “must have.” They are harder to name, as they come up only as we laugh at the yearbook page in May. Anyone remember PRO, or maybe Puzzle club? Terra, Beatbox Club, Medical club, or Young Writers? They have come and gone, but existed for the hot second long enough to be featured in an decently size club photo taken in late October.

If you look at any population graph, there is always a carrying capacity, an asymptote that represents the line the population will always return to when it crosses over. Let us break it down. Let us talk rabbits.

Spring sees a huge spike in the cotton-tailed population, but the environment they are in can’t sustain such rapid growth. There are only so many holes to live in and so much grass to eat, and with the introduction of predators the population is forced back to a stable carrying capacity.

Clubs can be seen to operate the same way. There are only so many places we can comfortably congregate in, only so many days of the week, only so many times.

We only have four days in our club-week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday  (Friday only sometimes, for those leaders who are daring and believe in their club members’ loyalty). There is only a limited number of meeting places, too. For large clubs, a classroom does not cut it, and there are not many community spaces focused enough for the agenda of a club.

But what kills off clubs the fastest are the predators. Sports games, night classes, and the relentless struggles of stressed-out, overloaded students kill club attendance like the plague. No one is going to tell their teacher they could not study because they had to go to Badminton Club; no coach is going to take Wednesday night Improv as an excuse out of a varsity tournament.

So what happens to the club community? Is it possible that the number of clubs George school allows shoots the clubs themselves in the foot, stretching the student body too thin to keep any one of them alive?

There have been attempts to curb the club population. A few years ago, Student Council had proposals up for different kinds of clubs, downgrading some to interest groups and raising the prestige of others. There was outrage, there was apathy, and ultimately the plan fell through. As of now, with all of the things George School demands of students, club participation is the first sacrifice.

Our club population will forever fluctuate, you can tell by looking through past yearbooks. Take a look at the Club Fair week one, and then at the Community News postings by the last month of the year, and you can see the decimation. Is there a way to build a healthier club system that will get approval of Student Council members?

Until something in the culture of clubs changes, it does not seem likely that we will have any more long term clubs, or any fewer short-term start up clubs. The constraints of George School keep our outside gatherings at a steady carrying capacity. Living the life of a struggling club’s leader is heartbreaking. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that the behemoth clubs of 30+ attendees could ever fail.

In the long run, far longer than any of our matriculation here, clubs will maintain themselves according to the student body’s interests.

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Why I Said Yes to GS

2017-02-20-07

Bea, seen here in her Oxford University Sweatshirt, works with another student on the Curious George. 

By Bea Feichtenbiner ‘19

George School is so much more than I thought it would be. In seventh grade, I began thinking about colleges. I know that is early, but I have always been hyper focused on my future. During this time, I wanted to major in English and obsessed with England. I decided that I wanted to go to the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, and I would do anything necessary to get there. I learned of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma from a family friend and I looked it up. Only two schools within an hour of my house offered the diploma. I knew this would help me get into my dream school, so I convinced my mom to let me look at them. The first school, Harriton High School in Lower Merion School District, was the closest to my house, but I would have to move to attend school there. George School was the second closest.

Neither my mom nor I felt any harm in applying, so I started the application. I went for a tour in October and I loved it. It just felt right. I finished my application and anxiously awaited a decision. The portal said decisions would be posted at midnight, so I planned to stay up. When the clock hit twelve, I logged in and sure enough, my decision was there. “Congratulations,” I read.

The next morning, I logged on again at 6:30 a.m. “Congratulations,” I read again. I ran upstairs to wake my mom up. She was excited, but we both knew what this meant: we had to decide whether or not I should go.

After I pondered it for a couple of weeks, I convinced myself that I needed to say yes to GS. I made a PowerPoint of pros and cons and presented it to my mom. We accepted the admission a week before it was due.

Then I had to tell my friends and my family. Some were shocked and some were not, but for the most part, everyone supported me. I got many comments about how I was “brave” or “crazy.” I didn’t understand this. Going to George School felt natural, I didn’t need to be brave or crazy. I felt like I belonged. That didn’t stop the butterflies in my stomach when I actually got ready to go though. For the first few hours, I was convinced I hated it. But then it got easier and I made new friends.

I am not going to lie, even now, three months away from my junior year, I sometimes feel like I made a terrible mistake. I miss my family and my friends, I miss my old life. But I don’t really regret it. I have my moments of doubt, but it has been a great opportunity and I am not going to waste it wondering about what might have been. George School is one of the best things to ever happen to me—it has a way of making you belong, no matter who you are.

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The World Roars for Women’s Rights

by Michelle Bronsard ’18

For this article, six women were asked about their views on Trump’s presidency, the Women’s March, and current women’s rights issues. Their opinions do not represent George School’s position, mission, or views.

On Friday, January 20, 2017, President Trump was inaugurated  in Washington DC with a crowd of about 800,000 people attending, according to most sources. The next day, Saturday, January 21, millions of people from around the world protested his inauguration by attending what was organized as the “Women’s March” in Washington, DC or sister marches in other cities across the globe.

Approximately 700 sister marches took place in New York City, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and other locations in  the United States. Internationally, marches were  held  in Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, Belgrade, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, New Delhi, Sydney, Melbourne, and numerous other locations.

As the name suggests, the purpose of the women’s marches was to inform the Trump administration about the importance of women’s rights. Most marchers seemed to be concerned with the alleged lack of respect that Trump has for women. This view of him comes from numerous non-consensual kissing, groping, sexual assault, and even rape accusations by some of his female employees, clients, dinner and television show guests, as well as models from beauty pageants.

Additionally, Trump has made provocative comments about potentially dating his daughter and other young girls, and he bragged to Billy Bush in 2005 about his ability to “grab [women] by the pussy” because he is “a star” and “they’ll let [him] do it.” This all has led to several women fearing a country under Trump’s administration because of his seemingly aggressive and disrespectful behavior toward women.

Many women are concerned that reproductive rights, such as the right to abortions, and social issues, such as equal pay, are at risk.

An event as important as the Women’s March was not going to be missed by George School students with an interest in politics and human rights. Nadia Arenas-Purvinis ’18 attended the Washington, DC march with several of her friends. For her, the march was an opportunity to take a stand against sexual harassment:  “I went to the march because I feel like this is a good time for women to unify […]. I loved it because there was a great sense of community even around people I didn’t know. It was comforting to me having all these people around me fighting for what we believe in and for our rights.”

When they heard about these events, English teachers Avery Stern and Melaina Young ’93 felt compelled to get a group of students together to attend a march. On Saturday, January 21, a group of about thirty students and faculty members left campus for the Philadelphia Women’s March. When asked what motivated them to attend the march, the students stated that they were concerned with the new administration’s future policies.

Emma Yoder ’18 pointed to Republicans’ intent to defund Planned Parenthood as one of her reasons for attending the march. Michelle Tyson ’18 expressed worry over the treatment of minorities: “I’m at this march because I think the United States is heading into a world that disparages the minorities of our community, and that includes queer people, black people, illegal immigrants…” Despite the students’ different interests, there was a shared belief in the importance of community. Catherine Tatum ’20 felt inspired by the many people around her: “It’s really important to come together because right now what we need is unity.” Emma added that “through this unity, we find power.”

Avery and Melaina were greatly impressed by the students’ enthusiasm. Avery explained how important their participation was because she “felt more so after this election than ever before that every body, physically, counted.” Not only was the presence of the students important for maximum media coverage of the march, it was also a way to establish an uplifting mood at a difficult and alarming time for many of the marchers and their families. Avery recounts the time she “climbed up the steps with a couple of students . . . and just to be able to look out on the sheer number of people who showed up was very invigorating.”

The call to participate in person and demonstrate resistance in large numbers was heard around the world. Carolyn Tate, an English teacher at George School during the 2015-16 school year, now living in London, went to the Vienna Women’s March during her stay in Austria. “I felt compelled to attend a Women’s March because being a citizen, even abroad, means being engaged […]. At this point, I think, we need to put our bodies on the line. Physicality, even in the internet age, does matter. Numbers matter. Being in a public place and having your voice recorded as a loud emphatic “NO” matters right now and will matter in the future when we study how America and the world responded to Trump’s grab for authoritarian rule.”

Clearly, there was a popular opinion that showing up to the marches was key to being heard.

Carolyn added that going to the small march in Vienna was a way for her and the other marchers, including many American expatriates and Austrians, to resist other rising authoritarian movements around the globe. “When the United States elects a racist and misogynistic leader who has publicly announced his intent to establish a white-ethno state, this affects the whole world.” Indeed, there is a rise in right-wing nationalism in several european countries, including France, Hungary, and Austria, reminding some people of fascism prior to World War II. Carolyn pointed out that “Trump is terrifying and his specific policies and plans need to be addressed, but he is also part of a larger international trend of violent ethno-nationalism.” In her opinion, this may explain the high level participation and the great number of marches across the world.

In light of the massive turnout for these marches around the world, however, it is crucial to note that Trump’s comments and allegations did not stop him from garnering more than 62 million votes in the presidential election. What came as a surprise to many was that 53% of voting white women cast their ballot for him.

As many Trump supporters have claimed, it is difficult to predict what a Trump administration might mean for women, so giving him a chance, they say, does not necessarily threaten women. Additionally, Trump has been known to be an active supporter and mentor to various women working in his businesses, and his cabinet includes four women.

People on the left had some misgivings, as well.

In the planning stages of the marches, several commentators questioned their purpose and efficiency. The lack of concrete policy proposals from the march organizers had made people wonder about the wisdom of holding these marches now, rather than after a specific objectionable policy was submitted for legislative review or actually put in place. They feared that an absence of purpose would lead to low turnout.

However, many participants already had in mind specific ideals and rights that they were willing to express and fight for. Although there was no concrete result from the marches, they were successful in raising awareness about numerous issues as well as giving people hope and space to develop the fighting spirit that they feel they may need in the next four years.

Avery had some final advice for the community: “Keep marching. Keep protesting. Keep donating and calling congressmen and voting. For the women who are in positions of power: keep advocating.”

 

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A Single Glorious Day

Photo 1

by Avery Stern 

Important Note: Having worked with dogs in many professional settings, I know the mark of both a healthy and docile animal. The dog mentioned in this post was both – I also had him checked out by J.D., our supervisor, who has ten dogs himself and has seen multiple successful adoptions in similar situations to this one…I also called my Vet friend. Everyone was responsible.

So we begin.

This is both a thank you letter for the wisdom each student has granted me, and a letter of wisdom to each of those I have thanked.

I am heading to bed tonight with a tiny hole in my sweatpants from a playful stray puppy. With cornbread crumbs on my heels. With a few small dollops of stucco in my hair, paint-stained finger nails, and wretched stomachache I’ve carried with me for days. (I’ll tell you now that if you’re a vegetarian, eating your first rib in 13 years off a student’s plate in a divey restaurant in Memphis isn’t the way to go. Might I suggest the fried chicken?)

I am also headed to bed tonight, ten days before my 25th birthday with a revelation I swore I would never have: You cannot save the world. You cannot even save a sliver of it. (The 20 year old in me is shrieking at the impossibility of this statement. “Quiet,” I tell her…hear me out).

I came to this revelation through the previously mentioned stray puppy. The puppy, whom I named “King Tutwiler of Tutwiler, Mississippi,” followed me home on a mid-day run. I’d passed a literal pile of puppies the day before, all heaped together for warmth in the rare 34 degree southern weather. But while those dogs showed moderate interest in me, they stayed put. Wiler, however, chased my heels for a mile jog back to the Habitat Dorm at which point I was determined to feed, vaccinate, wash, and ship him home on our American Airline flight this Sunday. (Ugh, I am a bleeding-heart I know).

We can perhaps by-pass the absurdity of what ensued when I arrived, floppy puppy afoot. The kids bottle-necked the door, some smartly cautious about interacting with a stray, others donning long sleeves, boots, and pants, and trusting that if he wasn’t nippy all they would need afterwards was a shower. John called his mom in hopes of fostering him claiming, “he’s the goodest of boys!” She agreed.

Sarah and Storey both agreed to take him for shots and a check-up at the shelter. I indulged the idea. Perhaps my Vet friend could take him in? No, her roommate did not like animals. My sister? An almost mother of two. So “Def no.” My boyfriend? A “soft” no, but a “no” nonetheless. My Parents? “Hahahahahah NO.”

But, I had to save him! WE, the good people of the George School with our house-building and community-engaging and compassionate hearts! As a tiny stray he could get run over by a car, attacked by a larger animal, starved to death. Yes, this is true—but perhaps that is life. Perhaps Wiler was serving as the symbol or metaphor of the much larger implications of this service trip.

We cannot save all of the stray puppies, however phenomenally cute, and we cannot build enough houses for all those in need. Sad? Yes. True? Unfortunately.

What we can do, as the well-educated and privileged people that we are as George School community members, is to acknowledge that we can “mud” all the dry wall in the kitchen, or install support beams for a whole roof, or give a puppy the best day he’s had in this three months of life. And these contributions are good. They are so, so, so, good. And if life is just a sum of its parts—just days all strung together, then one of those days is bound to be the best one of all and I’d like to be a part of someone’s.

So thank you Nodor, Sophia G, Sophia S, Sarah, John, Storey, Micheala, Elvis, and our supervisors J.D. and Ben for teaching me the humbling power of a single glorious day. I hope you continue to treat everyone with the same selfless love, respect, and generosity that you did to Wiler and I thank you for the love, respect, and generosity that you have shown to me.

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