A New Home
Last Tuesday, seventeen strangers left their family, friends, and familiar lives to arrive on the Alzar School campus in Cascade, Idaho. Some students traveled for days, others hardly left their backyard; but all arrived eager to see their new home and meet those with whom they would share it.
In the first week, faculty and staff strove to instill a sense of community and camaraderie within the new student body. Students were immediately thrown into teambuilding activities, communal chores, outdoor adventures, and rigorous academics. Settling into a new home, a new school, with new friends, and a myriad of expectations was understandably daunting. Yet here at the Alzar School, no student is alone; they are part of a family. The faculty and staff were constantly available to lend support, but this first week was more about relying on peers.
The concept of peer support even saturated class material. In English, for example, students read “Rediscovery of North America” by Barry Lopez. In his essay, Lopez urges readers to reconnect with the biological, topographical, and social richness of their home. He also admits how difficult such a change can be, describing the undertaking as a “monumental adjustment.” When settling into the Alzar School Idaho campus, students were encouraged to use Lopez’s vision to connect to their new home. Major adjustments are rarely easy; however, and Lopez concludes that Americans, like Alzar School students, must look for assurance and support from their peers. Whether learning to live in a yurt, cook meals, conquer calculus, wash clothes, understand physics, ski or snowboard, speak Spanish, or travel to a different hemisphere the Alzar School students must, as Lopez urges, “turn to each other and sense that this is possible.”