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When you think about your time at TASIS, what immediately comes to mind?
I think about my classmates, my teachers, and traveling. I cannot believe I spent ages 17 and 18 living, learning, and building life-long friendships with people from all over the world, while also traveling all over Europe. It blows my mind. Most days I can't even believe it was real. What an unbelievable gift. One of the greatest and most informative opportunities I ever had and will ever have.
What was your favorite spot on campus?
During my senior year at TASIS, my favorite spot on campus was the top floor bedroom in Monticello. Three friends lived there, and a bunch of us hung out there all the time. I have so many warm and enriching memories spending time in that room building friendships with incredible women from all over the world! My favorite spot on campus my PG semester was my balcony in Panorama. It looked out onto Lake Lugano, the mountains, and an incredible view of a pasture where there were always sheep. My favorite memory from that spot is laying out on the balcony one weekend afternoon with Nyasha Spain as we ate pistachios and she told me about her life back home in Zimbabwe. These particular living spaces were anchoring vortexes of sisterhood, friendship, and care.
Tell us some of your best-loved memories.
I could write an entire novel or encyclopedia of my favorite TASIS memories because every memory feels epic, especially now, 15 years later. One of my favorites was senior year when Katie Fraleigh and I attempted to travel to Italy for the weekend, but we messed up our train times. We thought we were supposed to leave Lugano for Milan and then transfer to Rome or Florence—I can't remember which. Whatever it was, we had the time totally wrong, and we took a taxi back to campus well after midnight. Here's my favorite part: when we got back to campus, the front gates were locked and we had no way of getting inside. Then, out of nowhere, Mr. Ulku-Steiner, Dean of Students at the time, came riding towards the gate on a tiny razor scooter, which were big for younger students at the time. He opened the gate and offered us hot chocolate. The memory is so poignant because it's emblematic of the TASIS spirit, support, and camaraderie with faculty. There's nothing like it anywhere.
Who were your favorite teachers?
Cynthia Whisenant changed, impacted, and altered the course of my life. I spent a lot of my PG semester in her living room working on my college applications, studying for the SATs, and watching BBC News in the aftermath of September 11th. She kept my favorite snacks in her kitchen, and always made me feel at home. It was a complicated semester for me: I had already graduated as a senior the year before, so a lot of my best friends were gone and at college—mostly in the United States—and September 11th had just taken place. There was this emptiness that I so easily could have felt but never did because Ms. Whisenant made sure I felt nurtured, supported, and loved. I owe so much of my perseverance that semester to her hospitality and mentorship.
Describe your life today. How did your time at TASIS impact your life since graduation?
I live in New York City where I am a full-time writer, performer, activist, and arts educator. There is no doubt that my time at TASIS informed my career as an artist, activist, and educator: Kay Hamblin helped heighten my confidence as a performer on stage; Mark Aeschliman informed my arts historical understanding, learning how to place myself in conversation with a vast canon of work; and all of my teachers modeled the way I educate and facilitate the workshops and educational courses I now facilitate. My career as an international body empowerment advocate very specifically began senior year at TASIS as well. My dorm faculty heads, knowing my history of struggling with an eating disorder, asked me to join them in running a workshop for my dorm, Monticello, about eating disorders. After they shared a documentary one of them had made at a stateside boarding school, they asked me to share my personal story with the room. It was the first time I ever publicly shared my experience. I've been fully recovered now for 11 years, and I owe my career to that moment. Sharing my story for the first time in front of 70 girls and young women from all over the world began what is now a literal worldwide sharing of my story both online and in public. All the time people ask me where it all began, and I always say: Monticello.