Sunday, February 3, 2008

Reflecting on One's Own Son... Ezra at 15... A Recommendation for NMH

What are your educational goals for your son or daughter (long-range and/or short-range goals), and how do you see Northfield Mount Hermon as a contributor in reaching these goals?

Ezra has been an excellent student his whole life. He is a very creative, intelligent and hard-working student who has done well on both his academics as well as standardized tests. We hope that NMH will bring out the best characteristics and talents within our son. In this respect, even as a young man, Ezra has already expressed his interest in film and film-making. I don't know if this will become his eventual academic or career choice (if he can't play professional soccer...), but, clearly, there is deep philosophic and artistic side to Ezra that has always been evidenced in his writing, his ideas and conversation.

Although, it would be hard for us to have both of our sons far away in the US, we believe that Ezra needs challenges, academically, athletically and socially that he can no longer find in Nepal. Our experience with our eldest son, Joshua, who is now at NMH has been mostly quite positive. Although Josh was seriously lonely and homesick when he returned to NMH after his recent New Year break here at home, we still feel that the challenges and opportunities that a school like NMH offers him outweighs the short-term pain of being far from home. As I said, it's not an easy choice for us, but one that we feel Ezra will thrive in once he fully decides to make this life-forming transition and move toward his future in the States.

We also feel that it is important for Ezra to begin his adjustment to American society and culture, since he has spent his whole life with us in Kathmandu. This has given him a unique, multi-faceted, cross-cultured insight into the USA from a distance, but we believe that he needs to also appreciate and understand the States from the inside.

Finally, we believe that NMH's emphasis on a wholesome head, heart and hands education is the basis for wise living, as well.

Are there any experiences that have influenced your son or daughter of which we should be aware?

Ezra is the son of a multi-cultural family with his mother from a Buddhist-Hindu Nepali family and his father from a Jewish-American family. Ez was born in Bangkok then has spent his whole childhood and youth in the diversity of modern Kathmandu. In this regard, Ez adjusts to new & different cultural or social situations quite quickly and easily. He has always had friends from around the world and enjoys the rich range of experiences he's gained during his young life.

Yet, due to a cultural reality, although Ezra is the son of a Nepali mother and an American father, he cannot be a Nepali citizen. Nepali custom does not recognize mixed children like Ezra as cultural Nepalis or, legally, as Nepali citizens For that reason, as well, it is essential that Ezra, like Joshua before him, begins to integrate within the more open and accepting American society.

Also, because of Nepal's recent traumatic political history, Ezra has grown up in a time of revolution and profound political uncertainty in Nepal. There are still many deep, historical troubles here now with six hours a day of load-shedding (no electricity), petrol shortages, water shortages and serious strikes and demonstrations caused by the unstable political situation in the country. There is a constitutional assembly election planned for April this year, but anything can happen between now and then. Throughout these years, Ezra has been a keen observer, up close and personal, of these historical changes in Nepal and the Himalaya.

Also, since both Shakun & I work with human rights issues in the country, Ezra is well aware of social disparities, as well as the issues of poverty and cultural identity that are painfully alive in Nepal and around the world. Ez has travelled with us to rural and isolated parts of Nepal over the years to see for himself the economic poverty and the social crisis that continue throughout the nation. He is familiar with a wide range of ethnic identities in Nepali society. As a Nepali speaker, he is also able to converse individually with people here to personally connect with their lives. I believe that Ezra will bring this global consciousness and concern to his classroom studies in America.

Has your son or daughter experienced any social, emotional, or academic difficulties? If yes, please explain.

Basically, Ezra needs greater stimulus and challenge in his education. He is easily bored by less creative or intelligent teachers. He has done well at Lincoln School but, increasingly, finds the level of teaching less inspirational. As there are only 270 students in total at Lincoln (from KG to 12th grade), the student body is quite small and the choice of courses limited. Besides this, Ez hasn't had any social, emotional or academic difficulties. In fact, Ezra is remarkably intuitive and sensitive to others. He understand and empathizes effortlessly with a wide range of people from all cultures, as well as all ages. He converses as easily with a six year old as he does with a sixty year old. That's always been one of Ezra's refreshing and surprising qualities since he was a young boy.

The only major issue, of course, could be the distance from his family. But with his older brother with him, I think that they both will be stronger and more content together at NMH.

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