King’s Academy, June 16, 2016 — Rising senior Saba Al Qubailat ’17 returned from a year-long exchange at Deerfield Academy last week rejuvenated and bursting with school spirit. Based on an impulsive decision to spend a year at the school King’s is modeled after, the self-proclaimed “girl who doesn’t miss out” figured Deerfield wouldn’t be too different than what she was used to at King’s. But she was in for a surprise.
“Academics and sports are big at Deerfield. And so are dances!” she said. “But the biggest difference is probably the freedom. There’s more independence there…but that’s not necessarily as appealing as it sounds.”
At King’s, students feel a stronger sense of guidance and supervision, thanks to things like advisory meetings and sit-down lunches, Al Qubailat explained. And while everyone at Deerfield was “incredibly nice and supportive,” Al Qubailat realized it was the small things at King’s she took for granted, such as the option to go home on the weekends.
“Their school spirit was remarkable,” she said. “It made me think of the love I have for King’s and I just wanted to shout ‘go King’s!’ because I’m proud of my school too.”
In addition to attending regular class periods and getting fully immersed in the culture of the school, Al Qubailat “snuck in” a few extra classes (such as architecture and US constitution) wherever she could in order to expand her educational horizons. She also helped establish the Muslim Student Alliance (to fight racism and discrimination by educating people on Islam) as well as a Middle Eastern studies club.
“It was challenging in the beginning because I looked different and spoke a different language but I tried to focus on the positive,” she said. “The feeling of being international led me to understand how ‘different’ could still fit, that you don’t have to give up parts of your character to fit into the community.”
To return the warm welcome she received during her stay and show true Jordanian hospitality, Al Qubailat has plans to host a group of girls from Deerfield at the end of June and offer them an authentic tour of the country.
“An experience like this allows you to get exposed to different kinds of people,” she said. “You can feel at home anywhere in the world if you really try.”