By Esma Karuv ’19
This is my fourth year at TASIS, and as a senior I have begun to value the little things I’ve grown accustomed to. As students, we often get the question, “What is your favorite thing about TASIS?”...with the common favorites being internationalism and ski week, but for me, as I begin my final year, my favorite part about TASIS has become more personal.
Every day during any free period I have, I prefer sitting outside to soak up the sun and feel the fresh air. Whether I am studying, finishing up my homework at the last minute, or just socializing with friends, I have realized that I enjoy it much more when I am outside at my bench. I have captivated this spot, and in my mind it is held hostage. It is the only place where I really feel like I belong.
From where I sit, I am overwhelmed with the sounds of water coming from the fountain and delivering relaxation and calmness to my usually jittery body (due to the overload of coffee I have consumed before lunch). This bench sits in a place that could be—depending on the day and time—the center of social interaction or the scene of pure study mode. Over the bench is a tree that shadows most of the bench and allows just enough sunlight to seep through its branches, providing warmth and the perfect amount of reading light. From where I sit, I often see Mr. Izsa walk by and comment that this bench should be named after me once I leave. He is convinced that I don't move anywhere else during the day.
Not only does this bench embody a utopia, it is also a place where I can interact with teachers in a comfortable way outside the classroom. Every student behaves differently once teachers are present, and their personalities are usually misinterpreted into something else. This is normal since we students have an immense amount of respect toward those who provide us with knowledge. Nonetheless, most of us are intrigued about the life of our teachers and take any advice they can give. I have had many comfortable discussions with teachers at this bench, from which I can speak to them in a friendly (yet still respectful) way.
There's a greater meaning behind this bench: yes, it’s only a spot, but it additionally provides the opportunity to speak to my teachers without the barrier of hiding my true identity. I have sat with teachers on this bench—talking, joking, and even complaining about my self-induced diagnosis of early-onset senioritis. Through this bench bloomed my closeness with Mr. Freddy [Fredericksen], Mr. Knee, and Dr. Love. I have formed relationships that exceed those based solely on formal classroom conduct. What I find absurd is that Mr. Freddy and I have never shared one class together...making my communication with him more prominent and valuable to me, seeing that we are now at a stage in which I call him “Freddy” and he calls me “Esmatic” (Asthmatic = Esmatic…since I blow everyone's breath away).
Teachers are put on a pedestal by students, and this can cause students to conceal their true identity, as they may be fearful of disrespecting their teachers. I respect my friends and my teachers...yet the stereotype is that it is unheard of to form a relationship in which I, as a student, can behave similarly with a teacher as I do with my friend. The only exception is my bench, which seems to obliterate the stigma surrounding the need for students to act a certain way. My time spent on this bench sitting with teachers and socializing as I do with my friends has been one of the greatest parts about going to high school at TASIS.
Students in the Class of 2010 will be pleased to hear that their gift is getting so much use!