We are preparing for our move to Nairobi, Kenya and it feels like I am finally ready to document my goodbye to AES and India. I feel so fortunate to have spent the last 8 years of my life in such an incredible and nurturing place. We saw our children grow from curious toddlers into lovely 10-year-old girls. Stewart and I also grew significantly as people and as professionals.
How we spend our days becomes how we spend our life, and I am grateful that I spent the last 8 years in New Delhi. We also know that we chose to make a life overseas to travel, explore and experience new countries and cultures. So after 8 years, we feel like our bellies are full and we are ready for a new adventure. AES and India will always be close to our hearts, and we hope to come back soon. It is with open minds and open hearts that we are ready to move to Africa for new experiences.
Schmids at the Taj Mahal, September 2009.
Isabella (l) and Sophia (r) on our last day in India, June 2017.
Here is an assortment of photos that show the amazing experiences and growth as a family during our time in India. Below is roughly what Stewart and I read at the Faculty Farewell Dinner, where we had an opportunity to express our gratitude and say our goodbyes to our home:
As we have been reflecting on the last 8 years in India, there are 2 words that are overwhelmingly mentioned in our house: love and gratitude. There is something special and magical about AES. Part of that it because we are located in India. Incredible India. We love India and there is so much about India that we will miss – the smells, the culture, the celebrations, the diversity, the people…..The incredible-ness of India is a part of what makes AES so amazing.
When we were hired here, I remember some words of wisdom that Bob shared about AES. He said that no matter what challenges were happening in our lives, our task each day when we come to work is to leave our problems at the door, because our students deserve nothing less than our best selves. We felt inspired to join a school that he described as a place where we have the special and important task to influence children in a positive way. That has stayed in our hearts during our time here. We have appreciated that AES is a place where we live our mission, where we are student-centered, where we have shared beliefs and common language, a shared quest and a spirit of genuine inquiry and wondering, where we are intentional about how we do things, and a place where people come first.
That last one is an important one. I was recently having a conversation with with many teachers who have now departed AES, and we were talking about all the things that will stay in our hearts from AES, even long after we leave. We shared: that we are a community of learners, open to possibilities and continual growth; that we are thoughtful and intentional about how we work together, grounding ourselves with common learning experiences and shared beliefs; that we are a place that believes in our staff, and support them to grow and develop; and above all else, that at AES we think about relationships and how others feel, to lead each of us to be our best, most inspired selves. AES is a place where people love to come to school, and with our shared vision and mission, our colleagues create our TRIBE.
We have so much to be grateful for from our time at AES. We are grateful to have had administrators that believed in us 8 years ago, and who nurtured our growth over our time here. AES has been a place of opportunities. I am so grateful that I have been able to grow from classroom teacher to teacher leader to assistant principal during my time here. And I feel fortunate for the top notch mentors I have had along the way on that journey. We have been so lucky to learn from and with the best of the best here, and it has inspired us to grow and improve. So our first thank you is to all of the people past and present who have served as mentors and role models to me and Stewart.
We have also been having lots of conversations at home to process our move with Sophie and Bella over the last few months. We have talked about the incredible gifts that India and AES have given to us, and all that we love and appreciate. We came here when they were 2 years old — we were still baby-wearing them to orientation meetings! Now they are thoughtful 10-year-olds who have been fortunate to have been shaped and influenced by an amazing team of educators. Through any challenges they have faced (and in those early years it included some visits to Peggy’s office!), the girls have been shown love and patience, and the school has taken an approach to shine a light on their strengths and gifts. That’s pretty amazing as a parent.
India is pretty much all our kids know, and it is home for them. They love everything that AES and India has offered them, from all of their incredible teachers to all of the familiar faces they see each day, including the malis and custodians and food services and Alka at the reception. They love to give big strong hugs, and there have been so many people that they love and hug here at AES.
A famous quote by Lev Vygotsky pretty much sums up our feelings of gratitude and love. “Through others, we become ourselves.” We are so grateful that we have spent the last 8 years growing as people and as professionals because of our experiences and all the people at AES, past and present….with hearts overflowing with love and appreciation, thank you AES. You have touched our hearts forever.