I really like the way Ms. Wolff teaches English. She challenges us to figure things out for ourselves. She usually starts class with a question on the board or an underlined passage.
We do a lot of free writing, where we work on a specific image, paragraph or line that was interesting to us. It helps us focus on the points we want to discuss and the questions we want to ask. English is a fun challenge for me – I call it my third language because I grew up speaking Dari and Pashto in Afghanistan.
Every one of my teachers has something that makes them really good. During my first week here, I sat and just listened. I wasn't used to taking an idea and putting it on the table. During that week, I went to my teachers, and told them I wasn't used to participating. They were really patient, and by the end of the first week, I began to feel comfortable talking in class. Now I love being able to express myself. I enjoy the debates best.
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In between classes, I often go to the Academy Center to check my mail, or return to my room to read emails and check Blackboard for class assignments. Other days, I do research in the library.
Dorm life is family life for me, because I don't get to go home during the year. Many of the kids who live in the dorm are my best friends. Like Keone – he's head of The Exonian, and really good at math, so I often ask him for help. I usually go to a friend's room to do homework and talk. You learn a lot about your friends and their families that way.
I have a single room in Browning South, one of the house dorms. Altogether there are 24 students in Browning. We have three dorm faculty: Mr. Einhaus, who is my college counselor; Ms. Dionne, who is my adviser; and Mr. Griffith. I'm the dorm rep for Browning, which is a Student Council position.
Math is my favorite subject. Ever since 6th grade, thinking about math problems has been part of me. Here I'm in Calculus with Ms. Coogan. She's really good, and very energetic. She lets us talk through the problems and try to figure things out for ourselves. If we can't, then she jumps in to explain. Here, we're trying to figure out the volume and shape of the intersection of two cylinders.
I was surprised by the system of teaching math at Exeter. I was used to textbooks. Here we use sets of problems. At the end of my first math class, I asked my teacher – Mr. Wolfson – if he had a textbook I could borrow, or if I should switch to a lower-level class. He said, 'No, you'll be fine,' and by the end of the first week, I started putting problems on the board.
The idea of problem sets and solving a problem with your own knowledge is good, instead of someone just showing you how to do it. When I can't figure out a problem, it's nice to be able to hear from a classmate how she or he approached it. Sometimes I'll see a friend solve a problem in 15 minutes – one that might have taken me an hour.
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Here I'm in German class with Mr. Reiter, who's one of my favorite teachers. He's really good – he's kind, and you can meet him any time to go over things. He always gives us a chance to speak in class. Today, we're discussing a German crime novel in German.
We have so many different languages in Afghanistan, where I come from. The two "official" languages are Dari and Pashto. In Afghanistan they start teaching English in the 7th grade. Turkish is my fourth language. And now German is my fifth.
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I usually have lunch in Elm Street dining hall with friends from my dorm. Once a week, I meet friends from the Muslim Society in Phillips Church.
I really like the experiments we do in Physics. We get to see how things work, and learn how to apply formulas.
Here my friend, Kat, and I are working on the pin-mirror experiment in physics class. For this experiment, we place pin '0' on one side of a flat, white surface, and two pins – '1' and '1 Prime' – on the other side. We then put a mirror in the center of the surface. When you look in the mirror, it looks like all three pins are lined up, but it's really the reflection of '0' that is lined up with the others.
Mr. Saltman, my physics teacher, gives us problems to solve. Today, Emma and I were asked to explain what a person standing at the bottom of a three-meter deep pool would see when looking up.
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This fitness class is really fun. I do abdominal, cardio, upper body and lower body exercises. I do some weightlifting as well, to have strong muscles. I want to be healthy and have a fit body. Sometimes we work as a group, other times individually.
Mrs. Nekton has been a really helpful and great instructor. She always answers our questions regarding any fitness topic. It's a really friendly environment. Several of my good friends are in this class.
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Studying history is great at Exeter – we discuss the personalities of the leaders of a certain time, and put ourselves in that time. We get our ideas on the table. I didn't like history back home. All we did was memorize dates for tests.
Today we're doing research in the library. The rough draft of our 333 papers – the big history paper for the year – are due later this week. I'm writing about Malcolm X, on his transition from a proponent of Black nationalism to a proponent of integration. I was curious to learn about his relationship with the Nation of Islam and the religion of Islam.
I've enjoyed all my history teachers – Ms. Schwartz, Mr. Hertig and Mr. Golay. They've all played important roles in helping me understand history and learn to write papers. Before I came to Exeter, I'd never written an essay or paper. I had some English and could communicate with people, but I had difficulty writing. Ms. Schwartz really encouraged me to work hard. My writing has changed since I arrived at Exeter. Now I look back and laugh at what I wrote last year.
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I'm Muslim, so ideally I pray five times a day. Sometimes I pray here, in the school mosque. Usually I do my morning and night prayers in my room.
Before coming to Exeter, I was worried that I'd have no one to share my religion with. When I saw that there was a Muslim Student Association, I knew I'd be OK
Here I'm at the Middle Eastern Society club, where students discuss current events. All sorts of students come to these meetings. I am a club co-head this year. Our faculty advisers are Mr. Jebari, who's sitting next to me, and Ms. Brownback. They contribute to the conversation. It's nice because we are all equals around the table.
Tonight, Amanda, one of the other co-heads, is leading the discussion. We're talking about the Christian exodus from the Middle East. Amanda's parents immigrated to the States from Egypt. She and her family are Orthodox Christians, so she's familiar with the topic. We're discussing whether Christians are leaving the Middle East for religious, financial or other reasons.
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