Nobody should come to Woodstock just for a traditional “academic” experience. While academics at the school are supported by mostly strong faculty, the fact remains that simply utilizing only these resources, which many students fail to do, does not constitute education at the school.
Woodstock was founded in perhaps one of the most isolated, beautiful locations in India, nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas. While we go to class every day, many forget that we are in such a biodiverse region, opening up educational opportunities that many kids around the world simply do not have access to. Since its inception, the school has placed strong values on outdoor education, because it fosters a positive relationship between the student and the environment.
Every student needs to take a much more active role in engaging with the community in and out of the school. Every day, I walk down to dorms and see so many people simply laze around and do nothing outside the basic requirement of their class. They waste their remaining time on the internet and social media. In contrast, there are a couple of students who are actively trying to bring about change on campus. Some projects that stand out include:
Anirudh Aggarwal’s, Class of 2020, NASA space settlement PASSAGE. Aggarwal started this group a year ago with the intent of reaching the Indian space settlement design competition. He gathered a small team of science enthusiasts and worked for hours, pulling out numerous all-nighters. By the end of their persistence, his team advanced to the Asian regional competition, placing second place. Currently, the club has expanded to include members from the Class of 2021, expanding the foundations that Aggarwal had built.
Additionally, Visakuo Tsurho, Class of 2020, operates an organic farm on campus. He has gathered a team of green cultivation enthusiasts to completely transform Turner Organic Garden, the school’s organic garden, to sustain vegetables and animals for produce. More importantly, he is working to build a chicken coop, hoping to personally behead chickens and supply the meat to the school, creating a sustainable cycle of supply and demand for organic produce. His team meets every week to clear the rocks in the garden to begin cultivation.
While some students are designing spaceships for the future, beheading chickens, and pursuing other projects, a majority of students still fail to show any sort of commitment to demanding initiatives. However, It is not simply the students who are at fault for being discouraged, but it is the entire system that needs to be revamped.
Woodstock offers a plethora of resources, ranging from the Community Engagement department to the Centre for Imagination, at the fingertips of the students. If a student actually tries, as demonstrated by the above examples, he or she can find the right support mechanisms to achieve their goals.
But in order to do so, we have to change our current ways to foster an environment of agency. We have to redefine and enforce what it means to truly be a student at Woodstock School, rather than just stating generic, broad mission values.
Stop the talk. Walk the walk.
Dhrubhagat Singh is the editor-in-chief of The Woodstocker.
Edited by Aarti Malhotra