By Chris Beeson, Director of Admission and Financial Aid
Many boarding schools travel each year internationally to connect with current parents and alumni as well as encourage prospective students to apply. I have done so for Athenian for many years, building our relationship with these important members of the Athenian community who cannot get to campus as easily as those who live nearby.
Athenian’s travel has been built around annual fairs organized in Asian cities by TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) for U.S. and Canadian schools. This year’s travels took me to eight cities (Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Saigon, Seoul, Shanghia, Taipei, and Tokyo) in seven countries in just 19 days! Though the fast pace of the trip is challenging, the warm connections made with Athenian families and alumni are heartwarming. In each meeting, I can build a stronger relationship for Athenian with these community members abroad.
I am truly touched by how much our alumni and parents value an Athenian education and experience. It is amazing how strong the bond to Athenian can be for alumni, some who graduated many years ago and some more recently. Alumni and current parents often join me to represent Athenian at the boarding school fairs as a testament to their commitment to the School. I am so grateful to the many volunteers who are by my side that not only know the School but can help bridge any language barriers that may arise.
In meetings with alumni and parents, I can share current information about what’s happening on campus as well as answer questions from parents and alumni. I share with each boarding parent an update about their child. Both parents and alumni often value the chance to ask questions about Athenian now and our plans for the future. With current parents, I can often fill in where information is missing and reply to any queries they have.
Facebook has proven to be an amazing tool in locating and communicating. After 23 years as the Director of Admission, there are many alumni I know but who may not have kept Athenian updated with their most current contact information. I have been able to find some alumni on Facebook and then build out through their list of friends to locate others. These connections are often met with enthusiasm and lead to wonderful gatherings on these trips.
Here are some highlights of the fall 2016 trip:
- Alumni, a current parent, and alumni parents gathered in Tokyo for dinner. Noburo Nishio helped represent Athenian at the fair in Tokyo.
- Current parents met with me in Beijing, Shanghai, and Taiwan.
- Alumni in Hong Kong gathered with me for dinner.
- Parents and alumni in Ho Chi Minh City joined me for a meeting and lovely gathering.
- In Bangkok, 12 alumni and alumni parents enjoyed a great meal. I met with another recent alum over lunch. Krittaya Pichitnapakul once again helped represent Athenian at the boarding school fair.
Thank you to everyone who joined me for dinner, helped out at a fair, or just came to say hello. I look forward to next year’s trip already! Here’s to the international community that is Athenian!