I, like many of our students, left home as a young adolescent for a boarding school. I, like many of our students will, then continued this educational journey away from home as I went on to college. However, unlike many of our students, I never actually left home.
I grew up within the cozy confines of Rhode Island. My “leaving” for boarding school consisted of driving 40 minutes south of my hometown to Newport, Rhode Island. College took me just barely outside of New England for two years in upstate New York at Colgate University, a mere 5 hour drive from home. Yet, it was right back to New England (with a sigh of relief) for my final two undergrad years at Williams College, only 3 hours from a home-cooked meal.
So how, you might ask, did I end up in San Diego, California on the last day of our recent winter holiday? Well, I drove. I drove for four days. I drove from Greenfield, MA to Kentucky to Oklahoma to Arizona to San Diego, California. I drove for approximately 50 hours through 13 different states.
I drove in awe, looking at the changing landscape, terrain and climate around me. I grew up sailing, so the idea of seeing without limit in one (even all) directions was not new to me, but experiencing this on land was completely foreign. The road ahead seemed to stretch to infinity- where were the trees, the curves, the hills?
As it turned out, the road (I-40 to be exact) did not go on forever, only to New Mexico.Immediately after crossing into New Mexico, the terrain became dynamic, rising into countless mesas. Flat topped mountains! A novel concept for the eyes of this New Englander. Furthermore, there may not be snow in Greenfield, MA right now, but I can tell you there is snow in New Mexico and Arizona. Never before did I think of snow when I thought of the Grand Canyon. And the Grand Canyon- this is truly something you need to see to believe.
Not only was this trip eye-opening for me in shattering some of my misconceptions regarding the geography of my own country, but really for the first time in my life, I found myself somewhere other than home. I can go pretty much anywhere in New England and feel comfortable. But that first stop in Kentucky- I was out of my element. Not only was I suddenly unsure of what to expect from the people, but there was gravy at the breakfast table!
I had this experience on a 3,000 mile trip across my own country. Not only are many of the students at Stoneleigh-Burnham traveling to us from different states, many are traveling a lot farther than 3,000 miles!
This week at Stoneleigh-Burnham School is International Week. During International Week, we celebrate the diversity of cultures that comprise the Stoneleigh-Burnham community. Our international students have shared with us the dance, the traditional dress and the food of their home countries. We celebrate all that our international students bring to the Stoneleigh-Burnham community, and it is wonderful.
However, having completed my recent cross country voyage I ask that we recognize something else too. Let us also celebrate the sacrifice, courage and confidence our international students demonstrate when they make the decision to leave home in order to attend Stoneleigh-Burnham. They aren't just continuing their educational journey a few hours from home but on the other side of the world.
Sara, road trip day 3, Texas.
Sara Plunkett, Intern, Admissions Associate and Coach