About five years ago when I decided to come to Stanstead, I had no idea what to expect.
For those of you that don’t know, when I was in Grade 7 before switching to Stanstead, I went to a small public school just across the border, in my hometown of Newport, Vermont.
And for those of you that don’t know what Vermont’s like, let me give you a little glimpse into what I see every day. You cross the border into Vermont, and just about everything changes. Cars become trucks, French becomes English, and sneakers become boots.
And that was what I was used to, it’s all I ever saw, and I had no idea that by simply crossing the border 10 minutes from my house, that it would all be changed.
Every day that I would cross the border to come to school, it was like I was getting beamed into another dimension where I would spend my day.
In this other dimension, there were Mexicans like Sam Tolentino, who showed me what the brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton were and told me all about how Mexico was a nice place, whereas at the time I thought the complete opposite. And then there were people like Peter Cai and Eric Wang, who explained to me how there is more to China than what the movie Mulan showed me when I was young.
The list goes on and on, but you get the point. These people from places around the world taught me a lot of things about what is outside of my small town, things that I would have no idea about if I never met them.
As the years went on, and I started to become more comfortable with these different kinds of people, it was as if these two dimensions that I touched on earlier started to merge. I would no longer cross the border and notice everything that changed. The cars looked normal, the sneakers looked normal, and the French became background noise that I would come to hear far too often.
It was all normal to me. I was used to it.
See, that’s the effect that Stanstead has. Sure, you can sit in your room all day, hanging out with the people you feel comfortable around, who come from the same place and speak the same language as you, but you aren’t learning anything new. Stanstead has students from all over the world, who speak languages that you maybe haven’t even heard before, with lots of stories to tell, so why not make the most of it? For those of you that don’t tend to venture out of your friend group, just like me 5 years ago, I encourage you to change that, because if I had kept down that path I wouldn’t be nearly as happy as I am today.
I get asked almost every day, “Why do you stay here all the time when you can go home whenever you want?” I never know what to say, so I usually just say, “I like it.” For 12 years straight, all I saw was the same thing every day; the same people with the same boots and the same camo hats, all speaking the same language. I guess I just like the fact that Stanstead is not all the same. And I only have less than 3 months to experience what this school has to offer, so I’m taking advantage of the time I have left here.
I originally came to Stanstead with the intention of getting a better education and after graduating in Grade 12 eventually getting into a good college. But throughout my time here, I learned things about different cultures, people and places around the world that no college professor can teach.
And be it tomorrow or decades from now, when I hear about one of those places far away from Vermont, I will not consider it a foreign place with an alien culture inhabited by people who dress and look different than me. Rather, it will bring back fond memories of my years at Stanstead, and perhaps remind me of the people that made my time here the most memorable five years of my life.
- Vincent Illuzzi, Grade 12, Prefect