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Back in 2009, when I was a sophomore at King’s Academy, a guest sat through my English literature class and asked us a question at the end of class that left me puzzled: “What is the most important thing to remember about your experience on this campus after you graduate?” Baffled by the vagueness of this question, my classmates and I were even more surprised to hear our guest’s answer: “Remember to give back!” he said. What does he mean? How is this the most important thing to remember?

We learned later on that the visiting guest and his wife were big supporters of the school – generous people who believed in the mission of King’s Academy and were altruistically donating to the school. They recognized the values that make King’s Academy a unique place with potential to graduate generations that will make a difference in the region and around the world.

Before attending King’s, when I was still at a small public school lacking an intellectual culture and any form of extra-curricular activity, I often found myself needing something more than what I had in front of me. My passion for basketball and my enduring interest in physics and history were restricted by the limited possibilities my humble school offered. When I first arrived at King’s, I was not particularly proficient in English. Nodding, unwillingly agreeing, and appearing passive and indifferent were tactics I used in my indomitable endeavor to avoid the use of the language. My efforts were bound to fail, however, as I was being taught English as a Second Language by an amazing teacher. It was, to say the least, the most intimidating, frustrating and inspiring class I have ever taken. Little did I know that that tiresome and once dreaded 45-minute period a day was to become the door towards my becoming a global citizen.

I am now in my fourth year at Wesleyan University, and I cannot fully state how much King’s Academy has helped me shape the person I am today. My experience at King’s taught me how to overcome the many challenges that one often faces in the transition to a different culture. Currently, I’m writing a thesis on the political economy of Islam. This summer, I will be starting finance work at an energy firm in New York City. Only seven years ago, I spoke no English! This is why I believe in the value of the experience at King’s Academy, and I will always contribute to King’s as much as I can so prospective students can benefit from all the advantages I myself have benefited from.

I now understand the question and the answer the guest provided seven years ago. But I would like to encourage current students at King’s Academy to start learning about the value of giving back to maintain the level and quality of experience they are receiving – to make sure that the King’s Academy mission continues to produce generations that are capable of impacting the region and changing world around them in a constructive way.