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Genevieve Clemons

Webster What are the most important things that you learned
in AGS this year?
English II


Going Out into the World Anew

My heart thudding in my chest, my backpack weighed down with new school supplies to

carry me through the new year, eyes bright, I entered my first classroom. I remember hearing my

brother’s stories of the trials of sophomore year and wondering, it can’t be that bad, can it?

Looking back, this new student, jittery with excitement, backpack loaded with a full set of

highlighters that would soon be lost, is very different from the student that will walk out of the

last final of the day into the brilliance and freedom of summer. The experiences that have shaped

this student such as travel, internationally-themed books, essays, long nights, and projects have

fundamentally changed her view of the world, her abilities, and where she will go in the future.

My sophomore year in the Academy for Global Studies has exposed me to vastly different

perspectives and provided me a better context for understanding global issues. It taught me how

to be an aware and insightful traveler and to apply what I’ve learned about the world to my life.

It has encouraged self-discovery of and adjustment to my learning styles and quirks. It has

taught me to become a better writer, a better listener, and a collaborative student. This year has

also allowed for me to improve my global intelligence by understanding my place in the world

and what I can do to participate as a citizen of the world.

This year of AGS has cultivated my global education through reading books by authors

from various countries, learning about history on a global scale, and collaborating on projects to

impact the planet and its people. For example, it was eye-opening to analyze history and
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literature that was not subjectively European, exposing me to different views on concepts like

colonization and globalization. This type of learning has allowed for me to gain a perspective on

many different cultures, ideas, and people, which provides context for understanding historical

conflicts, and for the violence and divisions today. By making connections across the different

cultures and perspectives I studied, I also learned how, at the core, we are all similar. Being able

to examine global topics and cultures allowed me to better understand the planet’s connectedness

as well as its fundamental differences which gave me a perspective on my place in the world.

In Costa Rica, one of the most enlightening and important experiences of this year, I

learned how to be an aware traveler, absorbing as much information from my foreign

surroundings as possible. When in a new place, I learned the importance of leaving one’s

security bubble and perspective at home to create room for an open mind. This allows one to

gain perspectives through experiences and conversations, things that cannot be done without an

open attitude. Being aware of one’s surroundings also allows one to delve into the culture of a

place, seeing the strengths and struggles it faces. Getting rid of the filter in one’s brain that

provides excuses and refuses to see conflict allows for one to problem solve and come home with

new ideas. Through TGPLAN, I learned this year that the perspective gained and things learned

in another country can be taken and applied locally. I was able to take the things I learned about

poverty in Costa Rica to make a local impact in Austin.

Being a student in AGS this year has required that I address my differing learning styles

and personal struggles as a student. I struggle with anxiety, and this year I have had to deal with

it. I learned strategies that help me calm down and remind myself of the reality that this is only

high school. As a student and sometimes a person in general, I tend to take things too seriously.

This year I realized that the real pressure I’m feeling is self-generated and that I need to reward
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my successes and learn to be okay with my mistakes. I have also recognized that as a learner, I

study better by following my own style when taking notes (drawing arrows, using shapes and

other mnemonics), things that perhaps no one else would be able to read. I also learned that

doing homework a block ahead prevents stress and allows one to feel ahead and have a grasp on

all the work. Later this year, I also devised a planner system that helps me prioritize weekly,

monthly, and beyond with my goals and tasks. Thus, I have learned to address my struggles as an

individual and a student, and through this year have discovered many systems and techniques to

help stay on track with my education.

In addressing the pillars of AGS, I have become a better writer, collaborator, and listener.

With the pillar “Communicate Ideas”, I have written many essays with clear defensible theses,

strong evidence, and crafted language to persuade. This has helped me with my communication

skills as I have developed a more refined vocabulary, and am able to explain my input and ideas

to others in a professional and concise manner. In addressing the pillar “Take Action”, I have

worked with different groups of students to address a global issue through teaching, advocating,

and making a direct local impact. In doing so, I have become an improved group member as I

have had experience in contributing ideas, dividing the workload, and doing my designated job

as part of a unit. I will take these lessons with me into the adult world, as collaboration and

teamwork skills are crucial for a productive workplace.

This year, I have learned my place in the world as a global citizen. The pillars of AGS

combined with the exposure to content from around the world have boosted my global

intelligence, or GQ. I feel that I am an active participant in the youthquake, as I have gained new

perspectives, learned new things, and took that newfound knowledge into the world to share it.

These actions may have yielded only small changes, but as a global citizen (one of eight billion),
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I feel that a small change is contributing; thus, I am a part of one big change. I feel that I have

incorporated Gerzon’s “When the earth speaks, listen” into my life this year as I have been tested

multiple times to open my perspectives, listen, and let opposing or different ideas in. For

instance, during the TGPLAN experience, my group was given the issue of poverty to research.

We could have simply done a donation drive, in which we would collect things we thought

struggling people would want and give them out. However, after conducting our interviews, our

group took a different direction. Our experts explained how delicate the issue was, that donations

can hurt people’s pride, decrease their sense of ownership of an item, and by assuming that we

know what people want, our project could stray from making a truly positive impact. Taking

what we learned, we created the concept of the “Dosale”, combining a donation and a sale.

People would purchase and chose the items they needed for an affordable price and all proceeds

would go to charity. This allowed them to feel the joy of helping the community. This is one

instance of many, where I have had to listen to what people are saying, and put aside any of my

assumptions or preconceptions in order to truly make an impact on the world. One of Gerzon’s

ideas, “Increase your knowledge-including how not to know” is a concept that I would like to try

and improve on and apply in my own life. I find it difficult when there is no exact answer or no

solution at hand for an issue. I think that by accepting that sometimes there is a limit, and starting

with admitting that something is difficult or doesn’t have one perfect solution, is an important

step to opening one’s mind to find one. It allows for creativity and the realization that new ideas

are just trials and some of them will be errors. I think that incorporating this mantra into my life

would allow for more open minded brainstorming and productive problem solving as a global

citizen and a student.

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In conclusion, I feel that I will walk away from sophomore year as a different individual,

a changed student, molded into an improved global citizen, traveler, and an individual with a

newfound view on the world and my potential in it.