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George School: What true support for international students looks like

George School goes the extra mile for its students — literally. When the pandemic struck the US last year, Nadira Talayee (Class of 20’22) found herself separated from her two sisters. All three were studying in different parts of the country.

With the help of the Dublin School in New Hampshire, where her sister Rahila studies, George School united the three sisters from Afghanistan. First, George School’s Co-Director of Admission Kim Major and her husband drove with Nadira to New Hampshire to pick up Rahila. Then, they drove them both to Maine, where Adela was a student at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.

“Kim and Tim drove us all the way from Pennsylvania to Bar Harbor, Maine. I really appreciate them,” Nadira shares. “They drove from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and made it possible for us to be together.”

George School

Source: George School

Although they could not travel home due to COVID-related restrictions, they cherished being together over the summer. Simple joys like cooking their favourite Afghani dishes, morning runs along the coast, biking in Acadia National Park, and reading and discussing books together kept their spirits high during a tough period.

“I’m very grateful to have my sisters and I’m so happy that I was able to spend time with them. It really felt like home,” shares Nadira.

Home is what George School is to all who pass through its historic halls. Here, pupils take on rigorous and individualised curricula, prepare to enter some of the top universities in the world and learn how to contribute to the world with all the support and camaraderie they need. Whether it’s taking a 1,122-mile (1,806 kilometres) road trip, coaching athletes to championships or digitising an entire library, teachers and staff always go above and beyond.

It’s an exceptional level of care that starts even before orientation and is sustained through the pandemic. Nadira, for example, was given extra language support when she first joined. It has improved to the point where she could complete a social entrepreneurship programme with the University of Pennsylvania last year, and participate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

The COVID-19 pandemic served to showcase George School’s commitment to caring for its international students. When many schools had to close last year, George School stayed open and continued to host international students on campus through the spring and during summer. Graduates could stay until they transferred to their next destination. Further, during the 2020-21 academic year, the curriculum was restructured to lessen the burden of those in different time zones and could not be on campus. Tuition was reduced for those who were unable to come to campus and join academic and social programming in person.

This magnanimity leaves lasting impressions on George School students. Combined with its Quaker values — simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service — and its rigorous academics, it’s a character-building exercise that few can replicate.

A life-shaping experience, surrounded by the best people

Set on 240 acres of expansive lawns and beautiful wooded hillsides in Newton, Pennsylvania, George School is a global school with local roots. At this co-educational boarding and day school, students from all walks of life — 29% are international, representing 42 countries, and 44% are domestic students of colour — have all they need to enjoy an all-American environment.

In their junior and senior years, they have the exclusive privilege of taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. George School is one of the few US boarding schools to offer this extraordinary and challenging pre-university qualification.

The IB Diploma Programme fuses rigorous academic work with requirements that push pupils outside the classroom into community service, creativity, and physical activity. It prepares students for universities in the US and around the world.

George School students have the flexibility to enrol in one or several IB classes in their favourite subjects. Whichever route they take, they stand to learn how to think deeply and critically, with extra credit waiting at their university of choice. This means they’ll have some of their prerequisites out of the way, giving them time and space to dive deeper into electives.

George School

Source: George School

The result? Graduates who can think, reason, write and communicate well. They’re proficient in maths, science, research, and more. They know how to resolve conflicts, compromise, collaborate, advocate, listen and respect diversity. This potent combination of academic rigour and character equips George School graduates to lead meaningful, rich, and connected lives.

A George School education lets students invent and reinvent themselves. As they complete high school or the IB programme, adventures abound. In intriguing clubs, they throw their hands into wet clay, move their bodies into step routines, or set their hands and minds into whatever gets them excited. In the local community — or sometimes as far as Vietnam and Cuba — they lead service projects.

In dorms with roommates, they share secrets, tears and laughter. They learn how to live with people from across the world. On the weekends, they go on trips with longtime groups focused on cultural interests, global issues, music and art, and just plain fun stuff. As they make memories, their lives are being shaped for the better, in many small but significant ways.

Combining all of this, and a dedicated team of college counsellors, often lead to outstanding results. Every senior student secures placement, some secure several. They progress to institutions like Brown University, Columbia University, Princeton Univeristy, Yale University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University and many more.

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