07 Jul
2020
A talk with Avenor High School Graduates – Class of 2020

Before saying farewell to the Avenor High School Class of 2020, we challenged them to a discussion about their school experience, lessons learned, and also about the principles with which they continue their journey through life. Some answers surprised us and made us think, others delighted us and gave us confidence that the future is in good hands. We invite you to discover how 13 teenagers with “big souls and open minds” see the world from a text written by the one who interviewed them, Raluca Mihăilă, Marketing strategistWriterPhotographer

I have to admit that, in general, I don’t particularly miss the school years, because I feel that I have lived each stage of my life intensely enough to not have nostalgia or the need to return to the past.

But on June 15th this year, when Avenor High School Class of 2020 had the graduation ceremony, I felt nostalgic. Longing for it. For the naivety, the feeling that the world is yours, the moment you are in the first academic quarter of life, for dreams, for the lack of pressure from the consequences of all everyday decisions. I missed the early youth for which the age of 25 is still far away and desirable.

This emotion of returning to the experiences of adolescence was activated by the discussions with Grade 12 graduates from Avenor College – 13 wonderful, beautiful children, with big souls and open minds, with end-of-high-school nostalgia, but also with enthusiasm and energy to face the rest of their lives.

I had the opportunity to ask Oren, Vlad, Matei, Ana, Leon, Seif, Daniel, the two Tudors, Vanessa, Maria, Horia and Damian a series of questions about various life aspects of teenagers in transition to the admirable but sometimes uncomfortable adult status.


I talked to these wonderful young people about education, democracy, teachers and colleagues, humanity and teamwork, but also about the future and tolerance.

I believe that together with the team involved in the visual archiving of the graduates’ perspective on the school they were educated in, we enriched ourselves with some words of wisdom to be stored and passed on. I will share them with you here, because they should not remain closed in a small circle, but deserve to be transmitted, ventilated, debated, assumed and, why not, improved.

I was happy to see that the world has changed in the last 22 years since I finished high school in Brasov, but that the essential and deeply human things have remained the same.

I talked to these wonderful young people about education, democracy, teachers and colleagues, humanity and teamwork, but also about the future and tolerance.

I don’t know if I actually learned anything new, but I know for sure that I started looking in a different way at some of the things I had categorised as known. For example, when Leon defined democracy as “simultaneously the most equal and cruelest government structure because, although the majority benefits, the minority is discriminated against,” the word “cruel” got stuck in my head as I was thinking that his opinion may be too harsh. But then I thought a little about the status of many of us, the privileged ones, all the current controversies about the introduction of certain subjects in schools, about disadvantaged children, about gender discrimination, ethnicity, financial opportunities… and I considered that indeed, there is a cruelty behind the most desirable system of government. And if in such a context the majority adds intolerance, the minority is practically annulled.

Speaking also about democracy, Seif believes that without our opinions we are worthless, so the right to free speech must not be threatened. And only extending this fundamental right through a thorough education can bring us personal and social elevation, representing “the basis that helps us move forward on our own path” (Daniel).

Most students interpreted tolerance through resilience and acceptance of differences, which made me think a bit, because I did not see it as an endurance test, but rather as a proof of serenity, necessarily based on patience. But these young people don’t see it that way. They interpret it either by resistance (“how much you can endure pain, boredom, suffering” – Seif), by concession (“accepting that there is nothing you can do in a situation you would like to change” – Maria) or by accepting those who are different from us (“through empathy for the people in front of you that you shouldn’t judge” – Vanessa).

I found very interesting Tudor G.’s definition of tolerance: “the limits of respect we set between ourselves and others”. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful expression that relates very well to Leon’s favorite quote about differences: “You’re different, just like everybody else”. On the other hand, however, as Oren told us, “people must be different in order to be able to bring themselves completely at the table of any discussion, otherwise we would all be the same.”


Just as important as being successful is how you build valuable human relationships – Daniel.

So where do we draw the line between the same and different? It’s relative. And it is a good thing, as it’s good that we are different, a celebration to which Ana invites us with confidence and optimism. If it’s still hard for us to do that, Vlad has the wisest advice: “if you can’t fight it, join it”.

Vlad also offers us perhaps the most beautiful lesson about altruism when he tells us about the life lessons he takes with him from school: “it is good to be relaxed in general, but if something starts to destroy you, to hurt you, you should step back and reset.”

I found in these young people an almost unanimous belief in technology, biosciences, medicine and IT as fields from which will emerge the inventions that will make the world a better place. Daniel is the one who raised the stakes and said that we can expect a black swan effect from the future domains that will come to life and of which we are not even aware now.

From 18-year-olds you would expect to hear almost exclusively about the desire for success, for ascension, for conquering the world … and of course there are such dreams in their souls, but they come seasoned with the awareness that “just as important as being successful is how you build valuable human relationships” (Daniel). This formula about the essence of life fits perfectly with how Tudor G. sees democracy as the “power of choice”. Building valuable human relationships is definitely a choice. Are we willing to make it?

Just as “education defines a person, good education defines a good person” (Vanessa), the life principles learned during the school years are extremely important for how we develop into adults.

Maria tells us that she learned how the journey is more important than the destination and that the role of mistakes is to learn from them, Horia believes that it is important to look at a subject from several perspectives, Leon believes that details and attention to them are essential, and Tudor F. believes that you should never give up and that it is essential to offer your friends trust when they need it.


Everyone has realised that without school they would not have gotten where they are today, and they have found useful the routine of daily rigour and the diversity of subjects offering them the opportunity to better decipher the world they are preparing to fly to at full speed.

The perspectives on life gained during the school years were at least as different as the way these young people described their school: from rest, relaxation, challenging, productive (Oren), to professionalism, memorable (Vlad), dynamic ( Matei), colour (Leon), fun (Seif), a community of friends for the future (Damian), responsibility and loyalty (Horia) or even in the most pragmatic style through textbooks and teachers (Tudor F.).

One thing is certain: everyone has realised that without school they would not have gotten where they are today, and they have found useful the routine of daily rigour and the diversity of subjects offering them the opportunity to better decipher the world they are preparing to fly to at full speed.

To explain the need for school, Damian made a beautiful analogy with the summer holidays desired by all children, but in which a lot of time is lost and knowledge is not accumulated in the rhythm of what happens in class. If you just keep going that way, you inevitably end up “in a deadlock and you don’t know what to do with your life. I don’t know what I would have done without school”, he tells us.

What is more important: WHAT or HOW you learn? A question that would probably intimidate many adults. These young people, however, did not feel that way, even if they saw things differently. From “What is just a choice, how affects each person” (Tudor G.) to “no matter how good the technique, if you learn what you don’t like, it’s equal to zero” (Vlad), it’s clear that “if you learn what is not right, is not good ”(Horia).

Through Seif’s words, Avenor College teachers receive the following message: “We sometimes make mistakes, but don’t be so angry with us. Have fun, it’s part of being at school. ”

The future looks good. This is clear and we can only enjoy this discovery from the mature discussions with the 13 young people.

Coincidentally or not, this future appears in their vision under the reunited collection of 9 colors held together by the non-colors black (which starts the sequence) and white (invisibly linking the shades together).

What if we were to add another circle at the end of the color sequence? A more comprehensive one that can hold together, in one bundle, the individual visions about the future?

 


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