Commuting Across the Ocean

by Eric Niles, Head of School

As we return to School after a long break, I have a better understanding for what it must be like for our international students to travel long distances to return to school.  In October, I spent three weeks in Asia.  When I arrived in my first stop, Shanghai, I found my way for the hour-long drive from the airport to my hotel.  That was about the same distance as SFO to Athenian.  It was exhilarating and a bit daunting to navigate a new language and culture.

I was in Asia to celebrate The Athenian School’s 50th Anniversary and to meet with alumni and parents of our boarding students. Athenian’s boarding program is such a rich part of our past and present and creates a global, dare I say cosmopolitan, community in our corner of the Bay Area. We are proud of that internationalism and so pleased by the education all our students get by meeting, learning from, and caring for one another. It is another way that Athenian’s education is unique from so many college preparatory schools. We are not just college prep, we are life-prep and engagement-prep and change-the-world-prep.

While I planned carefully to avoid any jet lag (a shout out to Trustee Josh Freeman for his tutorials), it was still a struggle to transition to a vastly different time clock.  Again, a lesson in empathy for me as I think about our students who make this journey numerous times per year.


Photo of Eric and Chris Beeson with the Kim family in their Seoul home.

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