Nard Choi- Class of 2007
Nard, since graduating from Rosslyn in 2007, what have you been up to?
In 2011, I finished my undergraduate degree in English and Latin at Calvin College and then returned to Arusha, Tanzania to reconnect with my parents at home and to start a library at a local primary school. After 10 years of living away from my parents, I decided I needed to spend some quality time with them. As a librarian and second grade teacher, I loved introducing the world of books to all my students and learning more about the Tanzanian education system through them. In October of 2013, thanks to a full-tuition scholarship from the Cambridge Overseas Trust, I will be starting a master’s program in Education and Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge to research the new perspectives and questions I developed during my time in Tanzania.
What is the most interesting experience you have had since graduating from Rosslyn?
All throughout college, I had my goals set on going to graduate school straight after Calvin. However, when I talked to my mentors and professors, they unanimously advised me to steer clear from academics for a while. Get out of the classroom, Nard they all said. You’ve been in school for almost 20 years. It’s time to get out. So I did and I don’t know why I ever doubted my professors because it has been one whirlwind of an experience.
In the two years since I’ve left school, I’ve biked, hitchhiked, and backpacked alone through Europe, started a library, climbed volcanoes, read voraciously, driven through East Africa with my dad, and so much more. Looking back, I’m immensely grateful for my teachers’ wise words and for all the unexpected ways I’ve been challenged in what I thought I knew about the world and myself.
Which teacher(s) had the greatest influence on you at Rosslyn (how did they inspire you or help you grow into who you are today)?
Although I have always loved reading, it was not until Mr. Enns and his English classes that I was properly introduced to the discipline of studying literature. Whether it was Shakespeare’s plays or modern American short stories, Mr. Enns’ classes pushed me to start probing for the hard questions weaved throughout the characters and narratives. Until then, I had always wanted the assurance of answers, preferably in black and white. But in the way he taught literature and as a mentor, Mr. Enns was one of the first people who showed me that it is not always the most important thing to arrive at clear answers, because most of the time there are none. It’s easy now to feel slightly embarrassed at the many dilemmas that my conversations with Mr. Enns revolved around, but Mr. Enns never downplayed my anxieties, never dismissed them with a you’ll grow out of it! He never gave me the easy answers either. Instead, he taught me to appreciate the gray areas in life where there is frustration and doubt but also much beauty and growth. And he also taught me a great deal about kindness, vulnerability, and perseverance.
What did you appreciate most about Rosslyn?
As a student who came to Rosslyn for just the last two years of high school, I really appreciated how quickly I was welcomed into the tight-knit community. I still remember how I had only been there for a few months and already my classmates were starting conversations with, Hey Nard, remember in seventh grade when? Of course, we all complained about the bubble when we were in it, but a community like Rosslyn is really hard to come by after you leave. Six years on, I still consider my graduating class my family, they are the ones I can count on no matter where I am. Life changes quickly for many of us; we always seem to be moving to new places and making new friends. It’s daunting to not always know where I’m headed next, but knowing that a Rosslyn friend is never too far away makes every transition a little bit easier.