ALUMNI…

Andie Schoenfeld:
Class of BFS ‘14
Sophomore, Goucher College
Deans List

I see Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.31.21 PMthings every day in myself that I know I got from BFS—particularly, my perspective on community, debate, and conflict resolution. I have solid tools to apply to complex conversations.

My new friends at college often wonder how I can think so broadly and be so level-headed during disagreements. But if things are not working out in a group, I go into my “chair” mode (meeting facilitator)—from this vantage point, I can hear everyone’s sides, make observations, and propose solutions.

Conversations about micro-aggressions and racism have also really stuck with me.  Noleca (BFS Enrollment Director and former Diversity Coordinator) once said, “Just because you don’t agree with someone else’s feelings doesn’t mean that their feelings are invalid. Those feelings are theirs and not yours.” I remember that all the time.

It’s a very new experience to leave such a democratic place and go out into the world where everyone is not getting an equal vote. I find it harder to accept other people’s close mindedness. It is not possible to let it go when I witness discrimination and bias.

Being at BFS also made me self-motivated—a huge help to me in college this year. The intensive graduation process at BFS forced me to be completely accountable to my education. I push myself now and take my own work seriously. I feel so fortunate to have been able to participate in such a unique community.

 

Erin Huang-Schaffer:
Class of BFS ‘14
Sophomore, Marleboro College

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.31.09 PMI came to BFS when I was eleven, and there wasn’t pressure to stop being creative.  Knowing that there was so much respect and trust for young people was liberating.

At BFS I got to be my own person. I was given independence and joined a community that thinks about others and places focus both on individuals and the group as a whole. Over time, I gained a deep understanding of how communities function.

Democratic process and social justice education are very accessible at BFS. Both are done in a way that young people can jump right in, gain skills, do meaningful work together. There is an eagerness to learn from other people and to have others hear what you are thinking. My voice and my mind weren’t pounded down in school and that is a huge thing!

When young people are respected and followed, I think you’ll find that they are inclined to try new things, have a persistence, and not fear to keep trying. It has been a huge transition for me to move away from home and join a new community. In college, I am noticing that places can make it hard to join in on democracy.

I had a lot to get used to in my first semester at college. Thanks to my time at BFS, I was able to use my understanding of community and resources to immerse myself in the experience, get to know the culture, and access the assistance I needed. It feels great to have gotten past fears that I used to have around school and know that I don’t give up!

 

more coming soon!