Embracing our Fears and Changes By Daniel Alexander

Since childhood, I have always been intrigued by the image of 'going to school'. When I was 3 years old, I took a morning walk with my mother and we went past a school. Many children were playing happily in the school yard. I was so fascinated by wanting to join them that I cried when my mother urged me to continue on our way. I can't stop thinking how fun school was. The image of going to school dances in my head every day and I just couldn't wait for the first day of school.

The first day at school was like a dream come true. I discovered my interest in academics at a young age. Often when I come home from church, my favorite to-go place is - "The bookstore". Unlike others, who prefer fiction and comics, I can spend hours in the nonfiction section, pouring over encyclopedias and devouring knowledge. I love mathematics too. Every day I will solve some challenging math problems until I feel 'satisfied' with the results.

To up the challenge, I decided to enroll in a well-known high school (SMA) in Jakarta. Unfortunately, the reality was different from my expectations, and I started to get discouraged in my studies, let alone going to school, and finally decided to withdraw from school. For the first time, I thought about trying home-schooling to stay away from all the social distractions. Sadly, my parents didn't agree with that, because I would then lose my school life. However, they were such supportive people who understood my dilemma and we started to look for a suitable high school, one which is intellectually stimulating and provides a nurturing environment and community of peers with similar interests. No rushing to enroll in a school, we wanted to choose carefully for the right school this time. We considered facilities, teachers, students, and the curriculum. We prayed, we deliberated and finally, we chose Ichthus School, as Ichthus promises the balance of high-quality education and a positive nurturing climate.

When I started school at Ichthus, the less than positive memories from my previous school made it difficult for me to adjust. I choose to remain silent, observe from a distance, and avoid interaction with friends and teachers. My friends and teachers were very patient and understanding. The counselor and the principal were very caring as well. I made friends with the ever-approachable counselor, running to him whenever I faced problems and before long, Mr. Dean, the principal also started to have heart-to-heart talks. Eventually with all this encouragement, despite my apprehension and hesitation, I decided I need to step out and embrace my surroundings. The warmth and care given by the teachers, principal, and other school staff opened my eyes and my heart. Their encouragement plus the friendliness of my friends made me feel safe and at home. Academics were important but social skills, making connections and friendships provided me motivation to go even further.

Today, I am grateful that I was accepted to the program of my personal choice i.e., to study Aeronautical Engineering at ITB (Bandung Institute of Technology). I am looking forward to an exciting beginning for a new chapter in my life. I hope my experience can be an encouragement to others. We have different talents and interests - we may seek acceptance and there will always be a loving community if we find it hard enough. We should celebrate our unique God-given talents and be proud of who we are. I am grateful and thankful to God, my parents and to all my teachers and friends in Ichthus School. Thanks for reading!

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