2015 was a year of firsts for SAS’s curriculum, and one of the most evident changes is the introduction of a popular program in many American schools known as “advisory.”
For 30 minutes a day, twice a week, students meet with 10-15 other kids from their grade level, along with an advisor, to discuss social issues that many teenagers face. While many students cite benefits to this new program, one area that they complain about is how hard it is to get to know kids who you have nothing in common with in these short twice-weekly meetings.
This led to an ingenious idea – combining Interim groups with advisory.
Like many students from SAS, I recently got off a plane after having spent a week away from Singapore, bonding with a group of 20 students who were basically strangers. Not only did I come out of my Interim with incredible memories and experiences, but also with a newly found group of close friends. But there is one major downfall to having gone on an Interim with a bunch of people I barely knew. They are not kids from my grade level or friend groups, so it’s unlikely that I’ll have another interaction with them, no matter how great our experience was.
This is the same emotion that many kids express about Interim – they miss the friends they made and wish there was another way to spend time with them. If Interim groups were combined with advisory, students would get to experience more time with their new friends.
One idea to make this happen would be to have advisory begin after Interim sign-ups and you would meet with the group of people who signed up for the same Interim as you. Not only would you discuss social issues with this group, but you would also get the opportunity to plan your trip and give your opinion on some of the activities you would get to engage in when you actually go on your trip in February.
Once the trip is over, you would still get to meet for the coming month or two during advisory and further reflect on Interim as well as participating in more bonding activities.
This particular idea has both pros and cons, according to students who were asked. Many think that the fun of Interim comes from the fact that you are thrown into an unfamiliar situation in an unfamiliar country with a group of people you don’t necessarily know. All of these factors encourage strong bonds between people, and many believe it just wouldn’t be the same if you spent the months leading up to Interim in a classroom with that group of people.
Emile Morin, a sophomore at SAS who went to New Zealand on the well known “Muddy Wheels” trip, agrees. “A cool part of the Interim experience is that you’re in a new place with new people you haven’t had the chance of previously knowing and you are able to form these new friendships…out of the blue.”
Others believe that this would be an excellent idea, since sharing the common interest in an Interim trip would make the bonding that is emphasized during advisory that much easier. Elena Cheung, a freshman who went to Chiang Mai, said, “Having something in common like experiences you had is really helpful… you have memories with each other and I feel like you form really close friendships, and that’s an important part of advisory.”
The focus of both Interim and advisory is to form relationships between peers, so why not combine them?