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When you see the stunning works of art that fill the lower school gym, it seems a stretch to believe they were created by elementary school children.


These are no ordinary finger paintings or simple clay pots. They’re the special Gala Class Projects, an annual tradition at Dallas International School that lets students create original works of art that reflect the country they’re studying throughout the academic year. This year’s projects reflect the color and vivacity of Jamaica.


Working together as a class, and under the supervision of teachers and parents, the resulting pieces are truly something to behold. But they’re also an excellent vehicle for learning.


“The kids learn many things about the country of the year as the project is done around it, depending on the execution of the project,” said Diana Darwish, a DIS parent who helped coordinate the projects. “They learn new methods to create art, they become more creative and they learn that when each of them contributes to something they can create a unique and international piece of art.”


The creative process begins with parents who volunteer to act as class project leaders. They then sit down with teachers and brainstorm artistic ideas, eventually resulting in a solid plan. The project leader then takes on full responsibility of executing the project, while the teacher prepares the right environment for making the project, as it can take up to several hours. The teacher divides the classroom into groups: one group works on the project while the other continues their daily classwork, then switch. The students are the artistic stars, as they put the idea to paper, canvas, sculpture or whatever form their project takes.


Ms. Darwish said that the projects are especially beneficial to the DIS community in three ways.


“First, it’s a learning experience for the kids that exposes them to art and the country of the year,” she said. “It’s also a learning experience for parents that connects them to teachers and classes as well as other parents. It’s also a financial benefit as the projects are sold at the Gala and they turn out funds for the school.”


The pieces are entered into a special auction at the Gala, and bidding for the projects tends to get quite competitive.


“I think the community members learn about the different backgrounds that the projects were created in and they learn to appreciate that they were made with love by small hands,” Darwish said. “It’s the hands of their children and they become emotionally attached and the project becomes priceless in their eyes.”


When these works find their eventual homes, the yearly process is complete. Everyone in the community benefits, but Ms. Darwish says it always comes back to the students.


“You can just see their excitement when the teachers announce that it’s time to work on the project,” she said.  “The love and excitement of the kids when you see them working on the project is so special and unique.”

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Calista Fyfe is into pretty much everything. It’s not uncommon for the Dallas International School senior to debate policy in her global politics class in the morning, grind through a basketball practice in the afternoon and work on designing an elaborate costume at night. That’s just a typical day.


“Being at DIS has shaped me into loving a lot of different things,” she said. “That’s why I fell in love with it. I want to try different things.”


That curiosity led Calista, who’s been at DIS since kindergarten, to try out for the basketball team in high school, despite not having played extensively growing up. A few whirlwind seasons later, she’s been recruited to play collegiately at Sarah Lawrence College, a liberal arts school in New York.


“The coach came out last year to one of our practices and he liked us,” she said. “I visited campus in October, met some of the girls and got to see the gym. We haven’t had a signing ceremony yet, but we are going to and I’m going to be playing.”


Calista said that she never envisioned herself as a college athlete, but once she joined the DIS basketball team, she couldn’t get enough of the sport.


“It’s definitely weird, because if you would have told me a couple years back that I was going to be playing basketball in college, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she said. “But it’s awesome. (DIS basketball coach) Jones is awesome. I’m a point guard and one of the captains so I help lead the team, and I just love it.”


Playing basketball has also helped her change her perspective and attitude. She’s learned a lot about teamwork and leadership.


“I think a lot of what DIS stresses is academics and independence, but through basketball I’ve learned to rely on and support other people to be better,” she said. “We aren’t necessarily a spectacular team in terms of on-court play, but we’ve learned with each other. You don’t need to win all the time. You can just do something because you love it.”


But basketball isn’t her only love, or her first. That would be art. Calista is in IB Visual Arts, a small, extremely high-level art class. Instead of a strict curriculum, teachers encourage free thinking and individual expression.


“It’s been really interesting finding out who I am through art and what I like to do,” she said. “Being able to do my own thing and create my own work and get to see myself develop through art is really helpful. I find myself doing it now even when I don’t have to.”


Calista’s art take many forms, from photography to drawing, painting, printmaking and costume design. She’s even been featured in the Dallas Morning News for one of the costumes she made and wore to Dallas Fan Days (previously Dallas Comic Con).


“Art is definitely something I want to pursue in college,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun. Even making mistakes and learning to make it work, it’s been fun.”


As a student at a liberal arts college, Calista won’t have a set major, though she plans to focus on politics and political science.


“Loving a lot of things is why I fell in love with liberal arts,” she said. “But my dream job would be a UN ambassador for a French-speaking country, somewhere in Africa or around the globe.”


Now so close to the end of her journey at DIS, Calista said her experiences at the school, including the struggles and challenges, have shaped who she is.


“Being a French school, there were some things that my family found odd, because we’re all American,” she said. “But it was good to learn to adopt a new mentality. It is definitely challenging, but there are still a lot of fun things to do. The teachers are awesome. They help us out so much, especially in high school. Getting to learn French is awesome. It’s been tough, but it’s like a family. It’s worth it. I’ll definitely miss it.”


The chatty, do-it-all senior stops talking, just for a moment.


“Geez now I feel like I’m going to cry!”


But she doesn’t. She hustles out of the office and, just a few minutes later, she’s in the art studio, working.

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A typical room full of sixth graders is an epicenter of energy, but when you walk in to a room full of sixth graders proudly presenting their recently completed science projects to their teachers and peers, well, it’s even more of a circus.


The upper school DIS science fair began on Tuesday in this frenetic fashion, with a large cluster of 11-and 12-year-olds stuffed into the third floor biology lab, assembling and presenting their own scientific experiments while gabbing excitedly with classmates about theirs.


“The sixth graders came up with extremely original ideas,” said Hennah Abubaker, a science teacher (and science fair judge) at the school. “They used what we had learned in class within their projects.”


Indeed, a visitor need look no further than the neat setup of Bryce Chun, Nathan Briard and Julien Sakouhi, who heavily researched Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion and built an aeolipile, or a “simple bladeless radial steam turbine which spins when the central water container is heated,” though this one was ingeniously constructed with a plastic cup, straws and string in lieu of fire. The aeolipile helps illustrate Newton’s third law of motion, which states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”


“I knew about the laws of motion but I couldn’t find a good example of them, so it was really interesting to build this,” Bryce said.


“For me, it was Sir Isaac Newton,” said Julien. “I really liked learning about him and I liked learning about his laws.”


Abubaker said there are lots of lessons to be learned from working as a team to come up with an original experiment.


“I wanted the students to learn time management and organizational skills,” she said. “I hope they were able to experience how scientists come up with questions and conduct experiments to prove or disprove their theories. I also hope they had opportunities to make mistakes without being discouraged.”


Bryce, Nathan and Julien certainly weren’t. Ask any of them about science and their faces light up.


“Science is one of the most interesting classes,” Nathan said. “It shows what our life is focused around. Plus science can help people. Using your imagination can help you and others.”


“I love science because it’s included in everything we do,” Julien agreed. “It’s very fun and it can revolutionize the world one day.”


Parents also had the opportunity to view their students’ projects and listen to their presentations.


“I hope the parents were able to appreciate not just the hard work but the students’ passion for science, which is something I’ve been blown away by,” Abubaker said. “They have really shown a high level of investigative skills and I’ve been super impressed.”


So was this writer. Just listen to Bryce, Nathan, Julien or any other DIS student talk about science and discovery, and you’ll rest assured the future is in good hands.


“Science is traveling into the unknown while still explaining your everyday life,” Bryce said.


Then he filled the aeolipile with water one more time and watched it spin around, delighted.

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The effect is astonishing when you walk into the reception area or administration wing at the Churchill campus of Dallas International School and it’s equally impressive on the fourth floor of the Waterview campus: a wall of student faces looking back at you, many of them dressed in the traditional clothing of their family heritage, all of them expressing their cultural identity.


It’s the work of Jerome Poulalier, and it’s called “Picture Our World.” Poulalier, a French photographer and artist, was commissioned by Dallas International School to beautify both campuses with his work. But his piece doesn’t serve purely aesthetic purposes.


“We started thinking about a way to promote the cultural diversity among the DIS students in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the school,” Poulalier said. “So we first wanted to involve all the students in this project. Then we thought about how they could express their differences and similarities.”


These ideas led Poulalier and his team to instruct students to select a word that best represented their culture and values. They were then photographed displaying the word while dressed in the clothing of their choice. There were traditional robes, sports team t-shirts and even some DIS uniforms. The portraits were then printed in black and white and mounted on the wall.


Poulalier worked closely with members of the DIS community throughout the project.


“My favorite part was probably the shooting sessions with the few art students I worked with that helped me shoot all the other students,” he said. “It was good to see them getting ready, posing and laughing in the shooting room.


“Then if I had to choose another favorite part it would be the ‘after project’ when the kids and parents saw the final result on the murals, being happy and looking at all the portraits and values and traditional outfits of everyone else. That was magic.”


Since DIS is home to over 700 students from more than 50 different countries, the project was meant to highlight the incredible diversity of the student body.


“I hope people gain awareness on how important diversity is, especially at a school where students spend most of their time for years and years,” Poulalier said. “All of the students are really open-minded.”


The completed piece has enhanced the ambience at both campuses, but after months of work between artists, students and teachers, it’s done so much more.


“It means a lot,” Poulalier said. “I’ve been helped by the wonderful DIS staff to realize this project with them. The kids were fantastic, the teachers, the administration, everybody got involved at some point and we are now all proud of being able to make it.


“It was a big project involving a lot of people, so I’m proud of it. I first wanted this project to raise awareness about cultural diversity and it ended showing this plus effectiveness of a group project with students, artists and administration.” 

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The DIS high school volleyball team is rather new, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to the players. Any lack of experience is made up for with a double order of enthusiasm.


“I joined DIS last year, and this year was the first time I had the opportunity to play on the team,” said sophomore Sanskriti Reddy. “I had played club throughout middle school and my freshman year, so I was very excited to be able to represent our school.”


Reddy’s teammate, senior Caroline Wolfe, had a hand in starting the team. She was among those who first broached the idea of a DIS volleyball team with Jesse Llamas, the school’s athletic director.


“A couple years ago, I talked to Jesse about initiating a high school volleyball team,” Wolfe said. “At the end of my junior year was when we really put it together and gathered the girls. I hope what we started continues as DIS grows each year.”


Though the team experienced the typical ups and downs of a first season, each member spoke passionately about the importance of establishing good roots for the program. Reddy will be here for a few more years yet, but she hopes the team is going strong even when she’s long gone.


“I feel honored to be part of the first volleyball team here,” Reddy said. “I hope that it will last as long as possible. It was a unique experience to deal with the challenges that come with participating in a newly-formed team, but I think we handled it pretty well and managed to have fun at the same time.”


The volleyball players have plenty of positive motivation to look to at DIS, with the high school soccer team having won two straight state championships and other sports competing in the playoffs each year. They’re intent on contributing to the rich athletic history of the school.


“With the team just starting, we have much room for improvement,” Wolfe said. “The goals started out as being able to win a couple games in the year. Once that’s achieved, it’s our dream to go to the playoffs and hopefully add a trophy to the case in yet another sport.”


The inaugural season was a success. Both Reddy and teammate Annabelle Toé placed in the district player rankings. Wolfe and the other more seasoned players provided team leadership, and there were some exciting wins. But overall, the thrill of competing together and having fun was the most important accomplishment.


“My favorite part of this season was watching us learn how to come together and play as a team even though some of us had never even met before,” Reddy said. “I’ve learned that there’s nothing more rewarding than watching a team grow and nothing better than participating in team sports like volleyball, because it gives you the opportunity to build trust with people you may not even have known before.”

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Last week, Dallas International School competed in its first ever Model UN conference in Waco, Texas. Eight delegates from the 25 person team were sent to debate political issues and reenact negotiations surrounding an historical crisis.


“They had a lot of fun with it,” said Patrick Dennis, the faculty supervisor for the team. “It was a more relaxed conference, but it was still formal in its presentation. We weren’t the only school there participating in their first conference.”


The Model UN team at DIS was created last school year, pulling participants from among the sophomores, juniors and seniors at the Waterview campus. Though the students trained throughout the year for the rigors of competition, Dennis waited patiently to sign them up for their first conference.


“There was a lot of enthusiasm for it, but we wanted to make sure it stuck,” he said. “The competitions aren’t easy.”


Indeed, they are not. Model UN conferences typically consist of two parts: a general assembly and an historical counsel. The general assembly deals with more contemporary issues, such as piracy and human trafficking. The historical counsel is a recreation of an historical crisis, such as the Six Day War of 1967. Those topics were the puzzles that students at the Waco conference were tasked with solving. In each situation, teams are assigned a country to represent (DIS was Bulgaria). Debate and, hopefully, compromise ensues amongst the participants to help move the theoretical United Nations to a resolution. Each issue takes hours to solve.


“It takes a lot more than just raising your hand and saying ‘Yep, that’s a good idea,’” Dennis said. “It gives students a great appreciation for how hard the real UN’s job is. They love the engagement.”


A little preparation doesn’t hurt either. Before the conference, students read up on the Six Day War of 1967 and its aftermath. They researched various historical aspects and drafted papers on what their group’s position on the war would be. They came to Waco ready to go.


“I think they can learn to understand the world’s problems, especially as it relates to global politics,” Dennis said. “They also understand the peacekeeping process. They see how cooperation is necessary and how compromise works. Overall, it gives them a more global perspective, and it allows them to see the point of view of another country or another person.”


The students are already planning their next conference. They could go to San Antonio in January or participate in Dallas in April. They’re already trying to convince Dennis to enter them in one of the national competitions in New York or Virginia next year.


“They wanted to enter in the conference at Harvard,” Dennis said. “I kind of nixed that idea. But the enthusiasm is there.”

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Emre Oguzman has crisscrossed the country since graduating from Dallas International School just a few years ago. Now he's back home in Texas to attend his dream school: UT-Austin. We sat down with him to catch up on what he's been doing and what's in his future.

What has life been like post-DIS? What have you been up to?
I am currently attending the University of Texas at Austin, where I am working toward a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Sociology. I actually came to UT-Austin as a transfer student applying from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Since I am relatively new to UT-Austin, I am currently not participating in many activities. Back at Reed College, I volunteered at a social service organization called Potluck In the Park, I was on the school’s indoor intramural team and I was also a house DJ for a couple of social events. At UT, I am participating in one of the school’s many intramural soccer teams and I am also a DJ at the school’s student-run radio station, KVRX. As I get used to my course load, I am eventually hoping to join a Public Health club either at school or outside and secure regular volunteer experience.
How do you feel like Dallas International School prepared you for your college experience?
Obviously, taking classes in French and making friends from different cultures has proved its benefits, both while I was attending DIS and even now at university. But overall, I find that the French math courses I took in middle school and the English courses I took throughout high school have helped me tremendously. When it comes to math, having a rich understanding and previous applications of fundamental theorems has proved worthwhile in my upper level courses on Calculus. And with the myriad of 1500 word essays we wrote (plus the colossal, 4000 word extended essay that my peers and I completed within the IB), I was more than ready to tackle the length of some of my assignments during my first months at university. I also find it insane how we covered some topics within my IB Higher Level Chemistry class that I am now learning about in my organic chemistry course, which is usually considered one of the toughest courses for most pre-medical students.
What is the biggest difference between life at DIS and life at university?
The biggest difference (by far) between life at DIS and life at university is the amount of responsibilities that you receive while at university. In high school, we constantly had teachers and other faculty members remind us of deadlines and push us to be on top of things (shout out to IB conseil de classe). No one is there to pick up the slack at college. If you miss a deadline, you get a zero, and there is no way around it unless the professor somehow magically “extends” the due date for the assignment, which actually happened while I was in Portland because of a music festival that even the Professor was going to.
What do you miss most about DIS?
Overall, the relationships I had with my teachers and other faculty members at DIS were really enjoyable. I’m not even sure a single professor (or even TA) here actually knows that I exist. There was always (and probably still is) a great student-teacher dynamic at DIS that I believe does not really exist elsewhere.
If you could give a piece of advice to the students at DIS, what would it be?
I have had many alumni give me advice before when I was at DIS, and unfortunately it went into one ear and came out the other. But I guess that’s the point of being a high school student; listening attentively and having responsibilities becomes abundantly clear once you get to university. Ultimately, you only get to be a teenager for a short period of time, so have fun because after that you’ll only be an adult for the rest of your life. 
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Alejandro Jaramillo feels most comfortable sitting an inch off the ground, going 85 mph.


Jaramillo is a kart racer. And we’re not just talking about the go-karts you can buy at a sporting goods store that you see tooling around your neighborhood every weekend. No, we are talking serious karts that move at high speed and are raced all around the world on custom tracks.


Jaramillo, a 9th grader at Dallas International School, says racing is in his blood.


“I’m a third-generation racer in my family,” Jaramillo said. “My grandpa has raced for over 45 years. I’ve gone to races since I was two or three years old. My dad found a local race track for me when I was little and since then, I’ve loved it. It’s been part of my life.”


But c’mon. As a kid who’s never sat behind the wheel of a real car before, not even to just languish in the endless traffic on I-35, zooming around at speeds in excess of 80 mph without a roof or doors has to be scary, right?


“When I first started five years ago, it was a little startling,” Jaramillo said. “When you first jump into it without that much experience, it’s a little scary. But once you get into it, you love the speed and adrenaline and it drives you to go faster and push harder.”


OK. But what about crashes?


“Sometimes crashes are inevitable, but some people try to avoid them at all costs,” Jaramillo said. “I’m aggressive when I pass, but I know how to avoid accidents. I spend a lot of time training physically and mentally to improve my reaction times. The biggest thing for a driver is to have lightning fast reaction times.”


Which, believe me, Jaramillo does. He whips out his phone to show me a video of him at a recent race where he successfully avoided a massive pile-up. Through a GoPro attached to his helmet, you can see the karts all around him smash together, a chain reaction cause by one driver’s errant steering. For what is literally a fraction of a second, an opening between all those wrecking karts appears, and Jaramillo jams down on the accelerator, breezing right through it. I have to watch the video a couple times to see how he did it. It’s that fast.


So it’s no wonder Jaramillo is one of the best racers in his age group on the planet. Last week, he competed in the IAME International Finals in Le Mans, France. It’s a prestigious race in which about 3,000 drivers apply for entry and only 140 get accepted. Jaramillo was one of only three Americans at the race in the Junior category. He travels all around the world for races.


“When I started, we did more local races,” Jaramillo said. “But around 2013 I started going out of Texas. The first place I went was New Orleans, and then I did nationals in North Carolina. Since then I’ve gone all around the country to different tracks. I’ve also been to Italy, Belgium and other places.”


Jaramillo said Dallas International School has helped prepare him for his budding racing career.


“Motorsport is a very unique sport,” he said. “I feel like DIS has helped me keep up with school but still be able to go race. They teach me in multiple languages, so I’m more prepared to go to France. The team I race with is a Belgian team, and they all speak French. So I’m prepared perfectly for that.”


Jaramillo’s ultimate goal is to become a professional racer. But he knows there will be bumps and wrecks along the way. His advice to students, aspiring racers and himself is the same: zoom past the crashes.


“Always keep your head up,” he said. “Every once in a while you’ll have troubles with the kart or the engine. Keep digging, keep practicing, or else you aren’t going to get anywhere. As much as it isn’t easy, you’ll find your way through it and eventually have success.”

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Sebastian Gray opened the e-mail on his phone and stared at it, not sure what to think. Within a few seconds, the realization dawned on him that he had just accomplished something special. The e-mail informed him that he had been selected as a National Hispanic Scholar by the College Board.


“I thought it was so cool,” said Gray, a senior at Dallas International School. “I didn’t know much about it, but it is really cool to have that recognition.”


The College Board operates the National Hispanic Recognition Program, which identifies scholars of Hispanic descent each year. The award is considered a prestigious designation, and can be a highlight on a student’s college application.


“Hispanics are a huge population here in the United States,” Gray said while explaining more about the selection process. “My mom is from Mexico, so I’m half Mexican. They look at your PSAT score and if it was high enough, you get put into consideration and then they go through your grades and look at you as a person and then evaluate if you’re a scholar.”


Gray hopes the award will bolster his candidacy to the many universities he is applying to, particularly the U.S. service academies.


“I’m currently applying to all the academies—the naval academy, army academy and the Air Force academy,” Gray said. “I want to serve in the military as a commissioned officer. I’m applying to traditional colleges too, but I’m hoping to get an ROTC scholarship. After you finish school with the scholarship, you serve five years in your assigned branch.”


Gray’s first choice would be the naval academy in Annapolis, Maryland. His father attended the school and served in the Navy. Gray also wants to continue his public service after completing his degree.


“My main focus is computer science and that’s what I want to study,” Gray said. “If I go to a service academy, I would like to major in cybersecurity. I want to work for the CIA or another government branch.”


The senior is also a star on the DIS soccer team, and plans to continue his soccer career in college. He said he will attempt to walk on to the team no matter where he goes.


Gray credits DIS for helping prepare him for success.


“It’s such a unique school,” Gray said. “I got to learn French from being a little kid, and you’ll always stand out compared to other kids because of that. I learned to stay organized and not stress. Everything works out in the end. If something doesn’t work out at first, it will eventually work out.”

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Sonja Greil is a graduate of the Dallas International School class of 2017 and was recently accepted into a prestigious veterinary medicine program in Edinburgh, Scotland. As she prepares for her first semester at university, we sat down with her to learn more about her future plans and past successes as a DIS Tigre.


Let me know more about this program that you got into. What does it entail? Why was it so important for you to get into this program?



The BVM&S (Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery) is a five year veterinary program. It basically entails all aspects you should learn to become a veterinarian meaning lectures like Physiology, Anatomy, Histology, Public Health etc. but also research projects and hands-on experience with animals from the very beginning.



After high school I already knew that I wanted to become a veterinarian. In the U.S., people usually go to college for four years and then have to apply to a vet school to study another four years. So going to the vet school right away seemed much more convenient to me. Also, I am originally from Germany and just moved to the U.S. two and a half years ago. I still considered Europe as my home and it was important for me to return there and be able to practice there in the future. At the same time I didn’t want to limit myself to only be allowed to work in Europe. So in short: Studying veterinary in US meant that I could only work in the U.S. and studying in Germany meant only being able to work in Europe. The R(D)SVS is accredited worldwide which of course opens many doors for me in the future.



What aspect of going to university in Edinburgh excites you the most?



Well of course Edinburgh is a place I have never been to before so it is more or less like being thrown into the cold water. Sometimes, I ask myself the question what if I don’t like it there? This is part of the risk and risks are also exciting.



Then, I am also excited to meet so many new people again from all over the world who have similar interests as I do. I am excited to be able to use my knowledge that I have learned in high school and apply it maybe in the practical field. Veterinary medicine is such a broad field, which unfortunately a lot of people don’t know, so I am excited to find out more about it and myself as well.



What are some of your goals that you would like to accomplish during your time at university?



I would like to find out where my specific interests and talents are, whether it’s the clinical field, research, being part of Public Health organizations or even just what kind of animals I would like to work with. The reason why I went to Scotland is also to get a new cultural experience and eventually figure out where I would like to work or live in the future. I think college or university is all about finding out what you really want for yourself.



How do you feel like Dallas International School prepared you for your college experience?



Like DIS, R(D)SVS is a very international school. During the last two years I have met so many different people with different cultural backgrounds. DIS probably taught me how to be part of a cultural diversity and to also accept and enjoy the challenges that it brings.



Then of course there’s the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. I was able to take two sciences on higher level (Biology and Chemistry) in addition to the two languages (German and English). It is a lot of material to cover and, to be honest, not always easy. But the teachers really helped and pushed me because they knew that I wanted to study veterinary medicine. I think I am well prepared knowledge wise but I also had to develop strategies to understand difficult topics and to manage a lot of work but at the same time enjoy it. The IB is supposed to be an autonomous program so we had to learn to organize and take a lot of responsibility for ourselves. Also, DIS encouraged me to take part in several clubs where again I had to take over responsibility and make decisions. I think those are skills that I will need in college for sure. 



What do you miss most about DIS?



Most of all things I miss our small but familiar community. Over the two years I got very close to a lot of people, especially the ones from my grade. It is hard for me to imagine that we are all over the world now and a lot of us are very far from each other. But I am also happy for them getting into great colleges and having the chance to have so many new experiences.



If you could give a piece of advice to the students at DIS, what would it be?



I did not get into the school right away but I was placed on the waiting list. I did not have an offer for a really long time, until recently. In the beginning, I was disappointed and a little bit discouraged since everyone else already knew where to go. Although it sounds cheesy my advice would be to never give up. I had to send a lot of emails, had to make a lot of phone calls, had to work to get good grades and wonder whether it was actually worth doing all this work. In the end, you have nothing to lose, so just try your best!