By Esma Karuv ’19
As I write my final article four days before my graduation, I feel the sensation of accomplishment and satisfaction. Looking back on this whirlwind of high school and growth, I feel that it is necessary to describe the four years that were filled with limitless opportunities, beautiful experiences, and impactful people. At this moment, I am visualizing what I will do with this unwanted liberty once I am set out into the world of choices…and instead of waiting four days for graduation to arrive, I found myself wishing I could go four years back in time, to when I first arrived in TASIS as a freshman.
My freshman year at TASIS is a year that to this day is synced into my brain and is easily accessible. Recalling my freshman year memories is effortless, as it was the start of a remarkable experience. I want to commemorate a teacher who still strikes me with admiration, and this is Ms. Claire Thomas. Before my arrival at TASIS, I went to a Waldorf school whose foundation is based on art and music, and because of this, I was never introduced to science or a grading system. Ms. Thomas witnessed my struggles and supported me in both my failures and my successes. She saw my potential and helped me grow it to a reality. This is something so important to me. Anyone can acquire knowledge, and anyone can lack information; however, those two things do not define a student—what defines a student is the willingness to devote time and effort to his or her weaknesses. To see potential and to nurture it to success is what Ms. Thomas did for me. From having a D- minus in Biology in 9th grade, I rose to a high B+ in 10th grade. Ms. Thomas elevated my mental capacity and taught me how to use it toward my academic abilities. To this day, three years later, I share a bond with her as my teacher, as she reminds me where I came from and how I changed.
I want to express my gratitude to three other teachers who greatly influenced my final year as a student. First is my AP Macroeconomics teacher, Mr. Eric White. Seeing him devote so much time and give so much effort motivated me to do well in his class. Mr. White, who seems to never stop providing help and being a presence on campus, encouraged me to apply myself to the best of my abilities. Because of his manifesting compassion, as I go on toward university, economics is what I have chosen to study as an undergraduate. Thank you, Mr. White, I am so honored to have been a presence in your classroom.
Secondly, Mr. KC McKee, who I had during my final year at TASIS, also incorporated a friendly and motivating environment that allowed me to participate in class comfortably. I looked forward to every class with Mr. McKee. The freedom of speech liberated our classroom, permitting us to discuss whatever it was we were interested in. This kind of freedom revealed new thoughts and discussions, providing a borderless environment of independent thinking. I discussed how TASIS connects us in my previous article, and I still push this element of connection to this day. The world is large, and there are billions of people in it. Yet three people at TASIS come from the same village and county in New York, otherwise unknown to the majority of even New Yorkers, and here in TASIS my country is shared among two teachers. This is still a shock as I leave TASIS. Two of my worlds connected in one. How brilliant.
One other teacher who demonstrates the value of support is Ms. Carolyn Rosenberger. This was her first year at TASIS, and AP English Literature was one of the greatest literature classes I have ever been a part of. Ms. Rosenberger compelled the class into liberating discussions, creative projects, and preparatory lessons. What most struck me about Ms. Rosenberger is that she did not hold the end-of-year AP exam over our heads, but rather reminded us of what was coming. Her style of teaching was not based solely on her desire to see us do well on an exam, nor was it based on trying to achieve a high number, but it was to teach us the value and importance of literature and its effect on human beings. We were given freedom of choice on what we could read independently, and because of this I was able to direct my passion for both real life and the literary world. I was introduced to the worlds of Tim O’Brien, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Tennessee Williams. With the help of Ms. Rosenberger's unique and extraordinary passion, I became enlightened by them. Ms. Rosenberger emphasized the important role of literature in the world we live in, and I will take this with me. From Les Miserables to Forrest Gump to The Fear of Thirteen—those novels are the ones that spark inspiration from me. I aspire to read the books that give me a look into real life—to experience pain, suffering, and the ever-changing reality of humanity. I am interested in seeing how people defy great odds and rise to success and awakening. That's what moves and impassions me. Jean Val Jean, Forrest Gump, and Nick Yarris share one thing in common, something remarkable and beautiful: even when the world throws everything at them, they rise above and find a way to fight. Through that pain and through that fight, they achieve enlightenment for themselves, a secluded happiness where they’re at peace. These novels are the ones that impact me and keep me striving for a small piece of those kinds of values and humility, a purpose only for me, a purpose in which I don't need validation from anyone. And it was not only novels—Ms. Rosenberger also shared with us her favorite poems and short stories, and with these we were able to uncover the universal message of the living. The special thing about Ms. Rosenberger is that her love and her passion for literature are sprinkled onto us, and because of this we became motivated to give her a class in which she could feel that her passion was celebrated.
I could name every teacher who has made a prominent impact on me, but the list would be too long. I have such gratitude for each teacher at TASIS, and as it comes to an end I begin to feel even sadder that I am parting with them and their infinite amount of knowledge than I do about parting with my friends. I realize that I will never again have the opportunity to participate in their classrooms or see them on a daily basis, and this I realize is a step toward growing up and moving on. To whoever is reading this, don't take this experience for granted—take a hold of all the opportunities you can, and strive for success in them. It’s worth it in the long run.
To the Class of 2019, here we are finally. I remember being a first grader hearing “Class of 2019” and thinking that this day would never come. To my surprise, I am graduating in four days. This is a thought I still have not adapted to. I want to thank this class, one filled with such brilliant minds and innovation, and say “well done!” to you all. I excitedly await seeing what kind of great changes we all make and how we will make a positive impact on this connected world of ours. We depart with lessons from TASIS that I am sure will spark our choices in the future. TASIS initiates a mental state of awareness that is present in our history classes, literature classes, Service Learning groups, etc., and we leave with the understanding that we need to be a part of the changes to the world we want to see. I believe that TASIS supports, improves, and engages the young minds of the future. I know this is not the end of the Class of 2019—our class is too special for that—and I am sure we will meet once again, not as students but as alumni.
I have met the most incredible people here from past headmasters to my friends to the teachers to those who have come and gone sharing their stories. With that, I take with me the world. I have found comfort in the TASIS community through my bench, my service learning group (Serving Southern Africa: Zambia and Botswana), and the incredible people I have met and grown to know. As I await my graduation—suddenly with no classes, no homework, and no need to wake up at 7 AM every morning—I am transported to a melancholic feeling of achievement. I want to thank TASIS for its magical integration of service, integrity, humility, compassion, responsibility, and vision. These virtues have been TASIS’s main source of shaping us future graduates as we leave our small international world and venture into a much larger one.
Thank you, TASIS. Thank you, Class of 2019.
“I don’t want reality, I want magic.”
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire