On Thursday, June 1, the members of the Class of 2017 joined with family, faculty and friends to celebrate the completion of their final projects as Winsor students: the Independent Learning Experience (ILE).
Introduced in 2008-2009, the ILE is a graduation requirement that gives Winsor seniors an opportunity to pursue a specific interest independently during the final four weeks of their senior year. Each student designs a project on her own, and is guided through her study by a faculty advisor and a mentor or supervisor in her area of interest.
"My mentor had a rigorous approach to writing," notes Talia Gifford '17, who worked with a National Geographic journalist she met when he presented at the Global Forum. "Until now, I've always just known what I wanted to say. He had me come up with 6 or 7 approaches, and analyze them all before choosing the best. Ultimately I learned that reinventing the wheel is really hard work!"
In some cases, the outcome of the month's work was tangible. Amanda Lu and Genna Brusie each recorded songs. Eve Elizondo wrote and self-published a short story that will be available for purchase on Amazon and "discovered that it's incredibly easy to self-publish, and to publish things taking more risk if you don't have to worry about covering the cost of traditional publishing."
Ruby Eisenbud created a book that captures the essence of Jamaica Plain, the community she says defines her, noting, "I walked everywhere, saw murals I'd never noticed before, and met and interviewed people. I figured out that it's the people that make the place what it is." While Elizabeth Kim, Catalina Alvarez-Ruiz, and Abigail Weyer produced a short film exploring the concept of One Boston and its underlying disparities. "I learned it's difficult to film beauty and all its flaws," Kim shared. "And it takes a very long time. So many hours go in to filming, and so much work goes into the process to create just a three minute film."
While working in a medical practice that serves low-income patients who struggle with the English language, Audrey Bloom created a binder that the practice is now using with new mothers to help them manage their records and care for their children. And Arielle Blacklow helped prepare exhibits, evidence and documents required for green card applications while working at an immigration law firm.
For some students, the take-away was more a matter of discovery. "I found a drive and passion for a medium I didn't think I would like so much," notes Alex Farina, who mentored with a classically trained painter. One student identified a dislike for working in a cube alone, without friends; while another learned the value of spending time alone, in nature, and just learning for the sake of learning in the pursuit of finding oneself. In a particularly stinging revelation, Michaela O'Connor learned just how unpleasant it can be to have a bee vacuumed from your ear.
Whether working in the medical field or learning from life-long activists, the girls drew connections and gained real life experience that will inform their choices and future academic pursuits. And they showed that they have the strength of mind and character to take on the world. Congratulations to the seniors on jobs well done!