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Four Years in Lugano: The TASIS Experience

View of Lake Lugano from the TASIS campus

Esma Karuv ’19, who recently wrote about her favorite spot on campus, discusses the “unforgettable adventure” she’s been on since she joined the TASIS boarding community as a 9th-grade student in the fall of 2015.

By Esma Karuv ’19

When I first came to TASIS four years ago, I immediately thought of Villa De Nobili as a replica of any place in Harry Potter. Growing up in New York for 14 years, I had an obsession with Harry Potter, so naturally seeing De Nobili brought me an antidote to my homesickness. As a child I was always embarrassed of being Turkish and Bosnian, as it differentiated me from all the American kids. My parents’ thick and strong accent was an additional hardship. But coming to TASIS as a freshman removed the self-consciousness I felt about my international background.

The iconic Villa de Nobili

The iconic Villa De Nobili, which played a prominent role in World War II

Internationalism and connection really do resonate at TASIS, which embraces the fact that, despite our different backgrounds, we all share a common humanity. As a senior, I see my final year differently than I saw the past three years, giving me the opportunity to see TASIS for what it is: an experience. Over the course of four years of high school, I have made mistakes, but I also think I have had great triumphs. I have witnessed and received more in four years than in my entire childhood in New York. I have traveled, become cultured, and gone to Zambia and Botswana twice.

Esma on one of her two trips with the Serving Southern Africa Global Service Program group

Esma on one of her two trips with the Serving Southern Africa Global Service Program group

TASIS in its essence teaches students how to be a part of this world: connected and educated. I have had the greatest experiences of my life just in high school. TASIS puts you ahead in life. It doesn't waste time but rather fills our days to the brim, giving us once-in-a-lifetime opportunities time and again. The high school experience has become something I view as my life, as I have not been in the position where I look forward to “beginning” my life—the way many teenagers feel when they’re still in high school. Because unlike other high schools, TASIS not only prepares you for the life you are about to “start,” but values the time within the preparation and provides the most incredible opportunities and experiences. This journey is something I have become so accustomed to that it has almost slipped by unnoticed. I have formed friendships of which I know will last a lifetime. I have begun to see TASIS’s beauty beyond the campus and beyond the friends and teachers. I have begun to see that no matter how much there is provided, the love for TASIS comes from the initiative to make something out of it—to take advantage of the opportunities and gain control of one’s life.

Dean of Students KC McKee checks in with Esma and some friends

During my initial adjustment to life at TASIS, I felt homesick and sad to be away from the place I lived my whole life, but through that sadness I found comfort amongst my peers and my teachers. I found that two teachers knew exactly where I lived in New York, right down to the bagel and ice cream shop I would go to. One is [High School History and Economics Teacher] Mr. Isza, who came to my Waldorf school to recruit some baseball players, and the other is [High School Dean of Students] Mr. McKee. This small factor synthesizes the multiple connections TASIS has in the school community. I could have never known that two teachers would know about a random village in a small county in New York. This overwhelms me to this day. When I say TASIS is a connector, a place that blends us together, it is true—we are all the same, just with different nationalities.

TASIS is truly a special place. It's unlike anywhere else…just like Hogwarts. Coming to the end of this experience, I feel prepared and ambitious as I get ready to begin my life at a university. I am grateful to TASIS for nurturing my mind as I have grown. So here’s to the ending, this bittersweet ending, to what is and will be an unforgettable adventure.

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