The first day of school is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and possibilities. It often comes with feelings of nervousness and anticipation - butterflies in your stomach. Most of us have at least one first-day-of-school memory etched in our brains. For some, it might be that exciting feeling we had when we walked into our first classroom, or the anticipation of meeting new classmates, or our first day at a new school. Think back to the first time you started a new school. It's easy to remember the first day of school, right? Was it somewhere in your elementary or high school years? Do you remember the awkward excitement you had going into a new environment? You probably remember what you wore, how you felt, how your teacher greeted you, and the nervousness about making new friends. For international school students, that first day at a new school often happens more than once. Some third culture kids even become pros at being the new kid.
Alumni Silvia Faldini (07‘) remembers her first day at ISKL, her first day of 6th grade fondly. In her story originally shared for the ISKL 55th Anniversary Book, Silvia remembers, “Just to give a general overview of the situation, I was a not-even-11-year-old girl whose knowledge of English could be easily summarized in a few nouns, a few verbs, and a few sentences like “My name is...” and “I come from..."." Basically, nothing. In fact, in my first semester at ISKL, I only had Math and ESL level 1 as core subjects. That day, my mother took me to school, both already knowing that we had to meet with the M.S. counselor, Ms. Nan Smith. Right after I got out of my father’s car, who then drove back to the office and gazed at the Ampang campus, I felt a whirlwind of emotions. I was scared, excited, and happy all at the same time. In my whole life, I had never seen a school that had a swimming pool, tennis courts, a football pitch, and everything else.
The counselor was so kind to show me and my mother the first few useful things I needed to know, like the locker combination, the timetable, and, most of all, my first classroom: I.T. with Mr. Bates. At that point, my mother left, and the hard part began. Trying to say in English that I didn’t know what a password or a user ID was and that I couldn’t understand a word of what the teacher was telling me was a really difficult task. Everyone, however, was very very kind and understanding with me. At the end of the I.T. lesson, Mr. Bates took me to the principal’s office and spoke to Dr. Straffon so that I could change I.T. with another course. Thinking back to that day, I really don’t know what everyone in the office might have thought when they saw that I couldn’t even touch the floor with my feet while I sat on the couch. Dr. Straffon, the MS principal, took me to Mrs. Gallagher’s classroom, who, after another brief English test, showed me the way to P.E. class with Mr. Renner. After P.E., Mr. Renner helped me find my ESL classroom, where I would have started the level 1 course with Mrs. Narsiman. Last but not least, Mrs. Gallagher made sure that the bus that would have taken me home was the right one. I can still remember the number: bas sekolah 11. And, I can also recall how much my mother and I laughed when I came home from school and she told me that she couldn’t find her way out of the campus.
It took me at least two weeks to start to understand something. When my locker got stuck and I accidentally arrived a few minutes late to class, Mrs. Narsiman asked me: "Silvia, what happened? Look at the time." I felt so proud of myself when I realized that, after having understood the question, I replied: “Mrs. Narsiman, no locker open."
My first day of school will be followed by another two years of magic moments that I will cherish forever and eventually tell my children and grandchildren. Along with my parents’ teachings, ISKL has taught me lifelong lessons and values that, even if twenty years have gone by, I can still vividly recall: honesty, kindness, respect, responsibility. "
Since leaving ISKL Silvia has returned to her home country (Italy), earned a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literature (English and German) in 2011, and an M.A. in Modern Languages (English and German with focus on language, linguistics and didactics) in 2014. She now lives in a small town in Piemonte, Italy, where she does translations and gives language lessons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, walking in the woods and playing the flute. She also loves doing crochet and cross stitch patterns.
Do you have a memory from your time at ISKL that you would like to share? Let us know at [email protected]