International Students Continue to Attend Heathwood Classes—Even From Half a World Away

Monday, May 11, 2020

When the conoravirus pandemic forced the closure of Heathwood’s campus, most of our international students returned to their homes in Asia and Europe. But once remote learning began, most have also joined in, despite the challenges of time differences of as many as 12 hours.

We asked several of them to tell us what their remote learning experience has been like, what keeps them feeling connected to Heathwood, and what they’re planning to do next. Here’s what they had to say:


Freshman Julie Librowska, from Poland

—What do you miss most about being on campus?

About being on campus the most I miss all the teachers and my friends. I miss walking on campus when it is sunny and the yummy food that Chef Jim and his crew always prepare for us all. :) 


Freshman Alvaro Rubio Garcia, from Spain

--What's your remote learning experience at Heathwood been like? How is it the same as learning on campus? How is it different?

Remote learning at Heathwood has been slightly challenging. Although it seems I am going to say it is a disaster, I want to say that it was challenging and different to leave my friends and go back home, but everyday it feels the same, like we are together in the online classes, and the teachers are as friendly and awesome as always.


--What do you miss most about being on campus?

Everything. Sincerely, what a great school.


--What are your plans for next year (or this summer)?

We haven’t planned anything yet. Coronavirus occludes our future plans. I wish I could return to Heathwood though.



Senior Cassie Guo, from China


—What's your remote learning experience at Heathwood been like? How is it the same as learning on campus? How is it different?

It definitely feels different. Though the teachers and students still have interactions, it is just not as close as talking face to face.


—What do you miss most about being on campus?

I miss my friends and the food from our dining commons :(


--What's been your favorite Heathwood class this year?

My favorite class this year is going to be AP World History. I enjoy having Mr. Adams as my teacher again and having a small class.


--What was your most interesting experience at Heathwood this year?

The most interesting experience this year is probably senior exhibition. Starting the project from zero and seeing it becomes a 15 pages paper is just a new and fun process.


--What are your plans for next year?

I am going to California next year for college. Very excited!!


--Anything you'd like to say to the Heathwood community?

I want to thank everyone at Heathwood for being so supportive and kind to me, and I will miss all the great memories.



Junior Alexandra Gornandt, from Germany

--What's your remote learning experience at Heathwood been like? How is it the same as learning on campus? How is it different?

Remote learning is definitely different than learning on campus. I have still the same classes but what I really miss is the social interactions on campus. I always enjoyed talking to my friends before class or meeting teachers in the hallway and having a little conversation with them and just seeing people everywhere. Now due remote learning, this is not the same anymore. But what I do like about remote learning, is that lessons are a little less disturbed by some students and I can listen to the teacher. Because of my 6 hours ahead, I also have the privilege of sleeping in every day. Sometimes I sleep until 9 or 10 am. and I still have time to do work before class starts. I also have to say that I really like the concept of learning via video chat, so we actually have lessons. I heard from my friends in Germany that they all had to do independent work, and they had no online classes which was really hard and exhausting for them.


--What do you miss most about being on campus?

It sounds crazy, but I miss everything. I miss being on campus, hanging out with my friends, having such a good relationship with teachers, walking through the beautiful campus, I miss the afternoon sports practice, lunch, talking to my host mum’s 4th graders and always seeing smiling faces around. Heathwood is truly an amazing place and I miss every second not being there.


--What's been your favorite Heathwood class this year? Why was it your favorite?

I had the opportunity to have amazing classes. They are different from the classes we have in Germany. I really enjoyed every class I was in. It's hard to say which one is my favorite, because they are all so good. But if I have to choose, my top 3 classes (without any special order) are American Literature, English Enrichment and Forensics. I really enjoyed Am Lit, even though it was my weakest class, because Dr. Plowden showed me the joy of reading. I actually hate Literature classes but she always found something true, amazing and outstanding in every boring book. At the beginning of the year I had little problems with reading, because there were so many words which I didn't know, but Dr. Plowden was always thoughtful and understanding. I love to listen to her, I could do it all day long. She is an amazing teacher. English Enrichment was also one of my favorite classes. I was always excited to have it. We always had so much fun in this class. Mrs. Hazel is an outstanding teacher. She always helped us, if we needed her. Was it with DBQ's in US History or the Freshmen Paper, she always helped where she could. We also learned a lot of skills which were really helpful for school. How to write a proper email, reading documents, writing down information from a lecture etc. But we not just learned helpful skills, we also had a lot of fun in this class. We played games such as "Tabu" or "say anything" which were a nice and fun way to practice speaking and vocabulary. My last class is Forensics. I was interested in Forensics before I heard that there was a class for that at Heathwood, because I like crime series in TV, and when I found out that Mr. Morris is teaching this class, I immediately went to Mrs. Norman to change my schedule. Mr. Morris was one of the kindest teachers I have known and his class was so interesting, I always wanted to learn more. Due to the remote learning, the lessons he wanted to cover are not possible anymore but he gave me the inspiration to learn more about Forensics and give my knowledge to other people. I also have to give honorable mentions to Mrs. Mundo and her Algebra class and Ms. Dawsons US History class.


--What was your most interesting (or fun) experience at Heathwood this year?

Oh, I have a list of things which were amazing at Heathwood. I have to say the school spirit at Heathwood and American schools in general is just amazing. Going out for games to support the team is an experience you don't get in many other countries. I always enjoyed going out for the football games and to cheer for your team. I also was lucky enough to see one lacrosse game against Hammond before school was closed. Otherwise I would be out there every game too. Another experience was the fall musical Matilda in which I participated. I never did something like this before but it was an experience I will never forget. Homecoming is also on the list. What I really enjoyed was the spirit week, where I could dress up for each day, and the parade where I could sit on the trunk because of lucky circumstances. I also enjoyed the Coming Home week because of the themed days and also because of the dance. I didn't know then that it was my first and last dance at Heathwood but I had so much fun with my friends. I love to dance and I am also a little party girl, therefore I danced the whole night with my friends and my feet hurt so much but I didn't care. In January I also started to practice with the girls soccer team. I also never played soccer before, but I really enjoyed being in the team and have practice every day, even though I actually hate doing sport (besides dancing). I learned a lot during my time in the soccer team and I am really glad for that. I didn't play in the games but I also enjoyed watching the team giving their best out there and cheering them on from the sideline. In February we had an international student trip to Atlanta and I have to say this was just incredible. I had so much fun with our "European gang" and with Dr. Scouten and my little buddy Finley. I will never forget this trip. It was so wonderful. And now I am coming to my last point on my list: Winterim. Winterim is an amazing program which is truly special. I went to Death Valley in California. At first I was a little bit concerned because I actually wanted to go on the "American West" trip but it was cancelled and Death Valley was just my second choice. But there were no reasons why I should be concerned. Death Valley was one of my favorite trips I did during my exchange year. I had such a good time with my friends and with Mrs. Norman and especially Coach Ware. He was an entertainer during the trip and I had an incredible time with him. Over jamming out in the car, leaving me and Ines at a dangerous road just with chips and oranges (not really), trying to speak Spanish and German, thinking that I was from Spain, making jokes all the time and saving mine and Ines life already on the first day. It is a trip I will never forget.


--What are your plans for this summer?

If the current circumstances are allowing it, I would like to spend my summer with a lot of internships to learn more about different jobs and to become clear what I want to study later. I also hope that I can go on my annual Bible camp at the end of August. This year would be my 10th anniversary, and I would hate to miss it. I am also planning to get my license over the summer. Other than that I hope to have a great time with my friends here and visit my family. After the Summer I am going back to 11th grade in my German school and start my final two years at school.


--Anything you'd like to say to the Heathwood community? 

Like I said before, Heathwood is a truly amazing place. I was welcomed since the first minute and I immediately felt home there. Heathwood has a special community which will stick in your head. Teachers are always nice to you and support you where they can. There is a special teacher-student relationship which one cannot find everywhere. The students are also really friendly. I had no problems finding friends. If I could, I would come back, just because of the community. We went through a lot this school year and I feel like this shaped the community and also me. Heathwood is a community which supports you, welcomes you with warm and open arms, gives you a second home, providing you with a stable ground when you are about to fall and is giving you a hand to assist you with any problems you have. I found kindness, happiness, support, love, appreciation, understanding and joy every day at Heathwood. A special moment that I alway remember was when I was just walking out of the Robinson Center and I met Dr. Scouten and Mrs. Norman and they said to me: "Alexandra, you are so wonderful. We wish you would be here next year."