Isn't it always true that people have more in common than different between them? That's certainly the case as far as Brooks School students and our recent group of exchange scholars on campus.
As Jikke Ten Thij prepares to depart for her home in Morocco tomorrow, she and her schoolmate Ihab El Kerdoudi joined Mandipa "Dida" Lecha and Upi Ramaselwana from Botswana in taking a moment to reflect on the weeks they've spent at Brooks and what has stood out so far. Turns out, the things that have made their visit to North Andover so special are the very same things that all of our students love too ...
From left: Upi Ramaselwana, Ihab El Kerdoudi, Jikke Ten Thij and Mandipa Lecha
Jikke Ten Thij: Playing sports
During the very first weekend she arrived on campus for her four-week exchange from the American School of Tangier in Morocco, Ten Thij said she enjoyed an afternoon that would become her most treasured. "I love sports and chose to come to Brooks for the diversity of sports here," said the athlete, a regular fixture in the Athletics Center playing basketball. "And just days after I arrived, a girl in my dorm offered to show me how to play lacrosse." Ten Thij had never picked up a stick before, but said that her supportive dorm-mate was a great teacher. "I spent the whole afternoon with her playing," she recalled. "It was really great!"
Second semester marked the countdown to exchange for students bound for Botswana, Hungary, Morocco, Scotland and Spain.
Ihab El Kerdoudi: Chapel gatherings
Before he heads back to the American School of Tangier on May 2, El Kerdoudi will have a few more opportunities to experience his favorite aspect of life at Brooks: Chapel. "I thought it was weird at first," admits the student, who traveled to Brooks with Andrew Iferenta '19 and Lami Zhang '19 on March 30 when the Brooksians returned from their month-long stint in his home city. "I assumed it was a church ceremony and thought, Wow, Brooks is really religious. Then, I experienced how it's more about coming together, sharing speeches and jokes." After a month of attending the campus sit-downs, he said he's come to really appreciate them. "It's a different way of socializing with the entire school community than I've had before," he said. "It is very nice."
Visit our Exchange page for more information about the programs Brooks School offers to six different countries each spring and summer.
Upi Ramaselwana: Hanging out with friends
Since he arrived in North Andover on April 4, getting to know the three Brooks students he's become good friends with has been "really cool," said Ramaselwana, from the Maru-a-Pula School in Gaborone, Botswana, where Andrew Stevens '18 and Taylor Berberian '19 spent a month this March. A fashion and art enthusiast — as well as a soccer and basketball player — Ramaselwana found kindred spirits at Brooks. "It's nice to meet people like me in another country," he said. "And they've opened my eyes to new things." Such as? "Ordering stuff online you can get more unique threads," Ramaselwana explained. "I've learned different norms about fashion, but also other things here too, like, you shouldn't knock on someone's door. Only teachers do that!"
Tebogo George, Director of Exchange Programs at the Maru-a-Pula School in Botswana, also recently came to visit Brooks. She joined this third-form English class in their discussion of African identity in conjunction with their examination of The Color Purple on April 27.
Mandipa "Dida" Lecha: Exploring campus
"I've really liked the time I spend in nature here at Brooks," said Lecha, also visiting from the Maru-a-Pula School in Botswana. "The lake is so beautiful. I love to sit in the hammocks to watch the sunset. Sitting there the other day I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is why I came here.' The little small things that are natural in this modern place have really stood out to me." And she's not done checking out Brooks' 270 acres. An astrophysics lover — "It's a topic that gets me greatly hyped," she shared in a note to the community prior to arriving. "The Big Bang and black holes genuinely excite me!" — Lecha hopes to see inside of the school's observatory before she and Ramaselwana fly home to Africa on May 11. "There's so much to explore here!"
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