Every day, you hear someone complain about the heavy workload we are given at IHS. Just imagine what it would be like to leave all of that behind and go to a foreign country for a semester. Mira Driskell ’19 did just that. Leaving New York behind, she lived in India for about half of her sophomore year. I caught up with her about living life without the pressures of school.
Isaiah Gutman ’19: What were you doing over your break?
Mira Driskell: So, basically, my mom runs a program in India with an NGO (non-governmental organization) that works with local indigenous communities. They partner Cornell students with Adivasi (indigenous Indian) students, and they work on projects that benefit the community in some way. For the first seven weeks, the college students had classes, so for that period I was enrolled in the Cornell classes—that was really fun and I really enjoyed that. After that, I took a break and I went to Kochi, Kerala, and that was terrific.
When I came back, I realized that I couldn’t go into field work because there were some liability issues, but I started an internship with an ecology group instead and documented local plant life. I attended an ecology convention that they have for younger kids and documented that. I did a lot of photography, too, by documenting the classwork.
IG: How did you handle being out of school for so long? Were you able to keep up with the coursework in all classes?
MD: Well, for some classes, it was disappointing because I couldn’t continue the work, like with chemistry. But also, with a lot of other classes, I realized we don’t actually do that much in school. It took me two weeks to finish an entire curriculum. . . .
IG: How exactly did you complete the coursework for the classes you were able to keep up with?
MD: I completed the coursework by “self-schooling.” Basically, my teachers gave me worksheets and keys, and I kept up with classes through Google Classroom.
IG: What did you miss most about school and the Ithaca community?
MD: This is going to sound kind of mean, but I didn’t miss anything. It was great being outside of high school, [because] the environment is kind of bad. It was fun, being outside of it.
IG: What’s it like to be back? Did you have an adjustment period?
MD: It’s kinda weird, my adjustment period was basically seventeen hours in Newark Airport. When I landed and went to buy some snacks, there was a supermarket, and they had five different types of water, they were all like twenty bucks. I was like, “What is this?” But then I also got to travel around a bit during the summer—I didn’t suddenly have to adjust to being back at school right away. Once I came back to school, I realized I don’t really love the structure of having hour-long periods every day; it isn’t as fun as doing a week-long focus on one area of study.
IG: Is there anything you like about being back at school?
MD: It’s nice to be around people my own age again. I’m also doing more extracurriculars, which has made school more bearable.
IG: Have you been able to apply anything you learned in the field back at home?
MD: Generally speaking, I have been able to use a lot of observational skills that I learned to do fieldwork in everyday situations. Using these skills has made me notice a lot more about the world around me. Also, I have a very, very small background in a variety of subjects after classes and my internship, which come up a lot. Like, ecology is pretty useful in APES (AP Environmental Science), and urbanization and planning are surprisingly relevant in English and APUSH (AP United States History).