Former student leader reflects on school’s impact

“Even though I have achieved very little in life so far, wherever I am and whoever I am — the best of it I truly owe to Woodstock.”

Introducing Aditya Todi, class of 2010.

Photo courtesy of Aditya Todi

“Woodstock was a truly transformative experience for me. Looking back, the idea of studying in a remote place in the foothills of the Himalayas,” he says, “seems rather fictional. To be honest, I’m still grasping the enormous impact the school has had on me.”

A few days ago, I reached out to Todi and asked him if he could answer some of my questions about him and his life — at Woodstock and after graduation.

Look, this guy, he’s busy. I understood that very early on. In the world of instant messaging, we expect to get replies in the blink of an eye, and when it was taking him two days to reply to me, I was getting a little nervous.

Now, if you’re so busy, of course, you won’t have time to do things which are comparatively not as important. Why would you take out time from your extremely busy schedule and reply to your cousin sister pestering you about your life in high school?

But he did set some time apart to do this. He just asked me to email him the questions and said that he would send me the answers as soon as possible. Two days later, he sent a long document with insights of his life at Woodstock, along with a few pictures from his time here.

Please note: All the quotes used in this piece are obtained from those answers.

So about Todi, here’s what I’ve got to say:

An 11-year-old from Kathmandu, Nepal, he had a lot in store for him. He joined “in 6th Grade in 2003 and was there for the next seven years until [his] graduation in 2010.” His sister, Ankita Todi, Class of 2005, joined in 11th grade the same year.

Photo courtesy of Aditya Todi

In my last op-ed, I introduced him as one of the student leaders who made a difference by being a member of the founding team of Woodstock’s Honour Council. Among other positions, he held the position of the first full-term President of the Honor Council.

Todi introduced the Council to the High School in 2009 and in his speech, he said, “We are here so that 30 years down the road when we come back to Woodstock each and every one of us can proudly say that I was part of the generation which changed the Woodstock culture[.]”

It has almost been ten years since, and the council has grown exponentially.

Todi graduated from Stanford in 2014, where he also wrote a thesis in International Relations. He then “continued [his] work with the Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her book. In 2015, [he] moved to Boston to start working at a boutique Management Consulting firm.” After this, he went back to Nepal and worked on his family business.

He is “currently pursuing a dual Master’s degree.” This includes a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School — where he has also served in the student government — and an MBA at the Harvard Business School.

“It has been a fantastic ride so far,” he said.

“[Woodstock is] a place that taught me to be appreciative of and curious about people who don’t share the same culture as me,” Todi said. When he joined, he had three roommates — all from different countries. He learned very different things from them and it really helped him look at life in a different way.

He also learned that we are “fundamentally all human beings with the same hopes and fears and if we could coexist in peace at Woodstock, we could aspire to a world that was more reflective of this microcosm of ours.”

In 2015, Todi and his cousin Lokesh Todi, class of 2005, helped raise money for the Nepal earthquake.

Woodstock made him realize “that simply as a result of the undeserved privilege we have been endowed with, we [owe] it to our communities and the world we [inhabit] to transmit the world greater, better, and more beautiful that was transmitted to us.” It is a duty and responsibility that he hopes] to continue carrying all his life.

Woodstock is a very big reason behind where he is and what he is doing right now. It did not come to him served on a platter — he had to work his way through to be recognized and make a difference in the community.

Photo courtesy of Aditya Todi

Some teachers here really influenced him, including Mr. Bryan Powles, who was his advisor throughout high school and English teacher for the other three years. He had told him to give a shot at top-tier universities, even though Todi thought he wouldn’t get in. “Someone gets into these places. Why don’t you leave it up to them to decide if it’s going to be you,” Mr. Powles told Todi.

Ms. Amy Seefeldt was his AP European History teacher and one of the advisors for the Honour Council who also influenced his course choice of Political Science/International Relations at Stanford.  

In his senior year, Todi was awarded the title of “Best All-Round Student” and today, his name sits on the plaque outside Parker Hall.

Todi’s life is just an example of what one can do early in life. There are a lot of leadership opportunities available at school, and things we do here can have a positive impact on our lives. Starting with minor positions does make a huge impact, as leaders do start leading at a young age.

The thing is, he is just like any of us. He came to this school, graduated, and got into university.  

“Remember that leadership is not about putting yourself at the center, but rather about putting the mission or goal that you’re collectively pursuing at the center,” he said. This is something he lives by.

Reminiscing, he said, “Seven years in Woodstock flew by. In two years’ time, our class will be having our tenth-year reunion.”

Funny enough, Todi and his family members who studied here “often joke that once [they’ve] all made enough money [they] can donate a dorm to the school and call it Todi Ridge!”

Edited by Veer Arya

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