Student Profile – Laila Rasekh
Shy, demure, head covered with a pretty ’hijab’, eyes behind her glasses darting around, soaking in her new environment. Her name is Laila Rasekh, one of our new students who joined us in July 2014. Our first, after many years from Afghanistan, she decided to move beyond the shores of her country and venture to an unknown school and world.
Laila had an offer and a scholarship from the Putney School in Vermont and supporting letters from two US senators however at that stage she did not receive a visa to study in the US.
She had for many years dreamed of coming to India to study at a truly international school and so that was to be her next option. Her sponsors, the Women for Afghan Women, after much research on good boarding schools in India, contacted KIS to find out if she was eligible to apply. A few months later, following several emails, skype interviews and tests, Laila received an acceptance from us into Grade 10.
“I spent many days, tense and nervous, waiting to hear back from your office” she told me. “I just had to come away to India. Living in Kabul had become impossible for me as a girl. We are a small conservative country. Girls must stay home, education is not thought to be necessary for them and they have no choices even within the household. But I wanted to go to school, to make friends and to expand my mind. So when my sponsors told me that KIS had accepted me, I was so excited. I couldn’t sleep at night and kept imagining what it would be like to go to a big international school!”
Disturbed by the lack of equality between men and women in her city, Laila spent her free time working in shelters for women. While more often than not, the girls were much older than her, she would spend hours giving them advice; teaching them the importance of being independent; of education; of going out into the world and earning their own income. In addition she would train children at a Child Support Centre on how to use technology. She was their mentor as she taught them how to take photographs with a camera, use a mobile phone and the basics of MS on the few computers available at the centre.
Laila has blossomed into a confident, self-assured and mature girl. She giggles easily and seems happy with a small yet close circle of friends. “Teaching Laila is an unparalleled experience. A dedicated, hardworking student, Laila has an inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge. Like a river she just wants to flow on, needing only direction and guidance. I wish her well as she moves into Gr 11.” Says Vishnu Sarkar, Hindi language teacher.
“I feel privileged to be a part of Laila’s life. She joined the ESL program with a minimal level of English and today has the ability to grasp concepts quickly. She puts in her best effort for every assignment. She has learned to communicate sophisticated ideas that are supported with relevant examples. What I really love about Laila is her strong and honest personality. She does what she believes in. She follows through the goals that she sets for herself without taking any diversions. Laila received the Intensive English subject award this year as she has gone above and beyond the required criteria. “Shekinah Truman, ESL teacher
During her winter holidays last December, an activist at heart, Laila decided to work with an NGO in India. She travelled to Bhopal and spent weeks with families affected by the gas leak. She had spent 6 months learning Hindi and found that she could communicate enough in the language to learn about the effect of the tragedy on their lives and the suffering they need to live with. “After seeing the suffering, I feel I am so privileged” she said “I know that there is so much to be done.” During her summer vacation Laila returned to Kabul and volunteered with Women’s rights organization, because that is where her heart is.
Laila hopes to study Journalism in a US college after she graduates from KIS. With this skill she would like to go back to Afghanistan and work with the organization which has sponsored her, towards the upliftment, education and basic rights of women.
– Alika Khosla, Admissions Coordinator
Alumni weekend Reunion
The annual Alumni Weekend Reunion was held from August 7th to 9th of August, 2015. A conference on the environment was held on Friday morning. In attendance were the Principal, Chairman of the Kodaikanal Municipality, Alumni, Members of Rotary Club, and Soroptimists and the local community members. The conference shed light on current environmental problems in Kodaikanal and its environs.
In the evening, the Principal hosted a dinner for Alumni at his residence which was followed by music performance by Oliver Rajamani ’89. A book reading event was held on Saturday evening at KMU. Our guest of honor was a prominent writer, Jerry Pinto, who was visiting KIS for the Writers Workshop.
Camp Kirchenwald Reunion 2015
Submitted by Julie Stengele
The traditional annual Labor Day weekend at Colebrook, PA was a grand success. Camp Kirchenwald has become a very special place and we gratefully have taken over the site for the past 11 years. 170 people attended the 2015 reunion, coming from all across America, Canada and a few from India.
The cooking facilities are in constant use throughout the reunion as dosai, sambar, coconut chutney, upma, Bombay toast, fish, goat, beef and assorted vegetarian curries, rice, biryani, and an array of other culinary delights are prepared. The aroma of curries in the making, tandoori chicken and biryani cooking over the open coals and the chatter of friends reunited were constant.
It all starts with lots of planning – which begins in earnest in March and April by a team headed by Bob Edwards (1969). Much thanks and appreciation to the organizers: Bob, Rani Maloney (1986), Mario Bellido (1970), Jeff Maegerlein (friend of the reunion), Bob Coleman (1966), Joe Kessler (1981) and Mary Coleman Lowry (1964). Their efforts pulled together people willing to coordinate all facets of running the reunion. Tasks included arranging the meals by Bob Edwards where volunteer cooks are sought out. The cooks submit recipes to Bob (so spices and ingredients can be ordered and purchased). Remember, they are cooking for between 150-220 people.
A farmer’s market in Lebanon, PA is visited by Bob in June, where he orders all the produce, poultry, beef, shrimp, and dairy. Rani calls in miscellaneous orders (napkins, charcoal, etc., etc.) to Sam’s Club, and also arranges for the beverage delivery. Rani also coordinates airport pick up trips and transportation. Mary takes accommodation reservations for Schriberhaus and Wittel Farm. Bob Coleman helps set the rates and is our chief finance person. He and Joe collect the money, and make sure there is enough for next year’s reunion start up. Mario and Jeff coordinate the propane burners, and the outside cooking site. And for those of us who come to the reunion to meet old and new friends, we pitch in when volunteers are needed for cutting up veggies and for meal clean up requirements. With everyone’s help, this year’s Camp K Reunion was a best ever.
A group of younger alumni from the 2000s came and joined in for the weekend. The earliest class represented was 1944 by Harrison “Hank” Moyer who came for the day on Saturday. There was a lot of chatter and catching up, but there was also a lot of other things happening: an informal meeting and update on the school given by Principal Corey Stixrud (1986), swimming, zip line, walks in the woods, bike rides on the local country roads, volleyball, camp fires, s’mores, wine and cheese, and KFI held its annual Board meeting.
Also there was a beautiful and meaningful worship service led by David Mayer (1975) and supported by a choir comprised of more than a dozen singers, amongst them professional cantor John Franklin (1966), and professional singer at the Tanglewood Festival Laurie Otten (parent), directed by another pro, Chris Granner (1975), and accompanied by music teacher Bob Granner on the organ keyboard (former staff, parent).
Special recognition and thanks for their years of service to KFI and its Board were expressed to Jerry Nichol (former staff, parent) and John MacKay (1951). Julie Stengele was introduced as the new executive director of KFI. There was so much more; it is hard to express the positive “vibes,” or the high that one experiences when attending a Kodai Reunion at Kirchenwald.
While younger graduates attended this year, we also remembered those who passed away recently from our reunion community: Sam Schmitthenner (1944), Eunice Naumann Nissen (1951), Gene Hennig (1966), Maj Stormo-Gipson (1974).
There were way too many people for me to be able to capture, or recognize in this update. In addition, the level of support not only for the reunion but for our alma mater Kodai School remains strong. Each person has their own story, professional life, family, talents and interests, and combined together we make up a remarkable group of Kodai people. Our unique experience at KIS has shaped our lives and played a large role over the years. Thanks Kodai School!
We hope you too will join us at Camp Kirchenwald. For more information about the reunion, contact Bob Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Eddy Award, 2015
Gene Hennig ’65 was the recipient of the Margaret Eddy Award, 2015. This is an annual award given to a distinguished Alumni who has made significant contributions to KIS, has excellence in their field/vocation and contributes to society, India and the world.
The award was presented to him in April, at a private ceremony held at the Kodai Club. In his acceptance speech, Gene expressed his gratitude to the Board and Management of KIS for the honor and also thanked them for the opportunity given him to serve in various capacities over the years.
Gene attended Loch End School from 1957 to 1961 and continued at KIS from 1961 to 1965. He obtained his B.Sc.in Mechanical Engineering from Valparaiso University in 1969 and joined the Valparaiso University School of Law, where he obtained his Law degree in 1974.
Gene was a Lawyer by profession and was an Adjunct Professor at William Mitchell College of Law from 1979 to 2013. He had won several awards in his home state of Minnesota and is the Recipient of the 2014 Lifetime Service Award from the Minnesota State Bar Association, Business Law Section.
He served as a Board Member on the KIS Council until his retirement in 2014. He was a Board member of KWI International, Inc. from 1999 to 2006 and Founder and Board member of Kodai Friends International, Inc. from 2006 to 2014. This Foundation supports Kodaikanal International School and under his leadership, has funded several projects at the school. He was also the Founder and Board member of the Bethania Foundation from 1987 to date. This Foundation was established to fund social welfare projects for destitute children in South India. He had also served as a Board member of Vellore Christian Medical College Board (USA), from 1990 to 1996.
Gene passed away on August 25, 2015 after a prolonged illness. He is survived by his wife Kristie C. Hennig and three children. He will be greatly missed.
Alumni Induction – Class of 2015
In April, an Alumni Induction ceremony was held at the Kodai Club to welcome Class of 2015 to the distinguished KIS Alumni Community. The guest speaker was Ms. Subhashini Chandran, Class of ’91. She is one of India’s few women leaders credited with building a large agri-business and in 2010 was awarded the Yale World Fellowship for Emerging Leaders. As CEO of Woodbriar Group and Founder of Briar Bungalows between 1997 and 2012, she grew a small tea business into one of India’s largest privately owned tea plantation businesses with diversified interests in eco-tourism, insurance services and real estate, supporting a 30,000+ employees’ and dependents’ community.
In her speech to the Class of 2015, Ms. Chandran stated that, being a member of the coveted Kodai Alumni club is a lifelong privilege and a lifetime responsibility and enjoined them to enjoy the privileges and reciprocate.
Here are excerpts from her speech.
“You will very soon join our ranks and no doubt shoulder this duty graciously. I suspect the privileges you already know – homecomings and schmaltzy reunions filled with great laughs and intoxicating… truly intoxicating trips down memory lane; and of course, the right to active engagement – to be forever involved in the changes and future of our school “
“Now let me tell you about the responsibility you will earn, by walking across the stage next month. You will without exception gain the title ‘Ambassadors of KIS’ – this is a new responsibility that each of us have to figure out how to fulfill in our unique and individual ways. The beauty of this role is you have to do nothing specifically to fulfill it. It demands only seriousness of purpose and conscious action – in your life. In my experience, if you can manage to (i) keep front and center the essence of your training here – to be exemplary ‘global citizens’… this really is the center piece of a KIS education; and (ii) remember a core KIS value – ‘service to humanity’ you will be good ambassadors, actually – strike that – you will be GREAT ambassadors, and regardless of the odds you will build splendid lives! “
Another visiting alumnus at the time, Dr. Selvam Mascarenhas ’96, also spoke about the importance of working hard and making the right choices from the start. Dr. Clarence Maloney ’52 also gave a word of advice.
Best wishes to the Class of 2015 in all their aspirations.
Upcoming Class Reunions
Class of 1966 – February, 2016
Class of 2006 – 10th Anniversary Reunion – March 2016 Field day
Class 0f 1991 – 25th Anniversary Reunion – August 2016 – Alumni Weekend Reunion
To access your information on the Alumni portal, go to the website and request a new password. Make sure you sign in with the same email id that you use in communicating with us. Also, we will be sending you 7Roads magazine very soon, so send us your postal address update if you have moved recently.
SHARE YOUR STORIES AND PICTURES
Do you have a favorite story of your time in Kodai School, pictures you would like to share? KIS Archives seeks to gather memories of alumni who have experienced KIS in their lives.
This is an effort to preserve and disseminate the memories of alumni through personal commentaries/stories, photographs* and related materials (personal papers, diaries, etc.) It will help to document the development and change of the school from 1901 to date. The products (media, transcripts/logs, images and affiliated materials) will be housed at KIS Archives. To share your stories & pictures, please write to: email@example.com or post them to:
The Alumni Officer
Kodaikanal International School (KIS)
PO Box 25, Seven Roads Junction
Kodaikanal 624 101
Tamil Nadu, India
*Using a graphite pencil, lightly write brief identifying data on the back of the photograph (never on the front) including the full name of the person (if known) and time period when taken.
Other Visiting Alumni
Kathrin Winkler ’71
Selvam-Joseph Mascarenhas ’96
Young Jae Jun ’17
Ruegg Evanice ’15
Sudhakar Selvan ’00
Ameer K. ’13
Manjuvanam Heineman ’91
Frida Effrien (Former Staff)
Melodi Christian ’07
Moon-Li Christian ’04
Kunaal Seolekar ’06
Aashika Joseph ’12
Steffi-Amrita Selvaraj ’09
Renee McLeod ’13
Rohan Joseph ’14
Sam Zegenbal ’99
Ramesh Hariharan ’76
David Morris ’65
Pushpa Lawrence (Former Staff)
Varun Krisana Sadasivam Ganash ’14
Ananyah Iyer ’14
Irfana Hameed ’14
Lotta Hellstadius Hakansson
Dev Punj ’14
Praveen Kumar (Former Staff)
Taslina Nazar ’13
Manjari Venkatesh ’14
Ishaan Chandhok ’14
Arijit Mondal ’14
Alan Alphonse ’13
Ansh Damodaran ’14
Abishek Joshua ’14
Sarita Andrews ’13
Shreya Biswal ’15
Sakshi Saigal ’06
Antonia Planz ’15
Krishna Seshadri ’11
Krithika Vanamali ’11
Sneha Saigal ’08
Sampras Selvaraj ’12
Jose Selvaraj ’12
Patrick Hart (Former Staff)
Sai Mahathi Chittoor Krishna Reddy ’14
Vedhika Arvind ’14
Priscilla Sudhakar ’94
Nita Kuttikandathil ’09
Sahil Engineer ’09
Edward Murphy ’09
Ali Nawaz Chitalwala ’09
Charles Mohl ’09
Jean Edward ‘03
Kartikeya Saigal ‘15
Tara Murphy ‘15
Benjamin Solomon ‘13
Joseph Luy ‘15
Viola Friesen Wiebe ‘50
Minali Srinath ‘09
Praveen Ingilela (Former Staff )
Sonam Y Dorji ‘14
Audric-Jai Cauvet ‘92
Philippe Cauvet (Former Staff)
Virginie Cherayil Male (Former Staff)
Sung Kyeong Kim ‘15
Naoshirvan Vakil ‘83
Anju Aradhya ‘99
Abhishek Krishnamoorthy ‘12
Jose Selvaraj ‘12
Abhay Sasidharan ‘15
Abhinav Kumar ‘15
Stanley David ‘01
Lydia Rymbai ‘14
Amit Sharma ‘95
Karan Gour ‘00
Daniel Hallwood ‘03
Toby Hallwood ‘06
Navam Pakianathan Pakianathan ( Former Staff)
Goodbyes are never easy no matter what the situation or circumstance. I for one have never been the type of person who has been able to deal with goodbyes easily. Saying goodbye or the need to say it comes in different shapes and forms, short term and long term, with a lot of emotion and at times with no emotion.
Having been to a boarding school myself as a child, I know how hard it was to bid farewell to those that have become like your very own…your family. Today I stand at the brink of saying goodbye to not 1 but 94 beautiful human beings. 94 boys and girls who are going to experience the world for what it is- the good, bad and ugly.
Class of 2015, it’s been a hoot!! It has been an honor to work with all of you over the past year where we’ve travelled together in planning and mapping out the next destination on your journey of life. I had the opportunity to get to know each one of you for you and it wasn’t limited by the career you wanted to pursue. We’ve shared many a story and created some great memories and so it is with sadness in my heart that I say goodbye. I’m not at a point where I believe it is for good but till we meet again, I wish you joy, peace, success in everything but most of all love. Trust yourselves…listen to your heart, make a positive impact on those around you and live each day like it’s your last.
I want to close with the words of John Keating from one of my favourite movies of all time, ‘Dead Poets Society’.
‘We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?’
Shine on Class of 2015!
For parents and friends of the KIS family, the following are a few of the universities and colleges the Class of 2015 students have been accepted into all over the world-
US- University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, University of California- Los Angeles, University of California- San Diego, University of California- David, Georgia Tech, Franklin and Marshall, Emory, Vassar, Boston University, Syracuse University, Purdue University, Northeastern, Stony Brook, University of Miami, Pennsylvania State University, College of Wooster, Carleton College, Earlham, Grinnell, Hofstra, Loyola Marymount, Knox, SCAD, SVA, SAIS, La Salle, Concordia College- New York, University of Washington, Michigan State University, Florida Institute of Technology, University of Tulsa
Canada- University of Toronto- Rotman Business School, McGill, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Waterloo, McMaster University, York University, Wilfred Laurier University, Trinity Western University, Memorial University, Mount Allison University
UK and Ireland- University College London, University of Warwick, King’s College, University of Nottingham, University of St. Andrew’s, University of Manchester, Queen Mary University of London, Kent, Reading, Edinburgh, Surrey, Exeter, Leeds, Buckingham, Sheffield, Bath, Southampton, Glasgow School of Art, Cardiff, Royal Holloway, Goldsmiths, RCSI, Bristol
Europe- Bocconi Business School, ESSEC, Les Roches School of Hotel Management, FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences.
Asia- Christ College, Spicer College, Hong Kong University, HKUST, Southwestern University, Karunya university, SRM university, O. P. Jindal Global University.
On behalf of the CAREERS department we want to wish the Class of 2015 the very best in life. You will all be dearly missed.
– Sangeetha George, Careers and College Advisor
Grade 9 Visual Arts has just finished a unit on Public Sculpture in which the students had to do research on an artist of their choice who is famous for his/her outdoor sculptures. After this the students worked in groups and came up with a design to make their own public sculpture. The results are really great, we have in our collection now a giant cupcake with 2 dolphins on top, we have a giant dream catcher, a black metal tree with gold and silver leaves, a huge strawberry with a dragon head on it’s side, a man breaking away from his chains, a mother and a baby swan, made from hundreds of tiny pieces of paper, a mobile made of recycled plexiglass with brass bells at the bottom and a giant shoe made of wire and string. These sculptures will be displayed in the school and will surely bring a smile on everyone’s face!
– Elly Oenema