Last Saturday, December 1, ten Andover Davis Scholars attended a retreat at Taft held by the Davis Program to commemorate its ten year anniversary. The Davis International Scholars Program offers students around the world the opportunity to attend affiliated, independent boarding schools through scholarships.
First initiated by Shelby Davis, a philanthropist, the Davis Scholarship provides financial aid to international students attending one of 92 affiliate colleges and universities in America. It also covers boarding school tuition for six member schools, including Andover, for students entering either 10th or 11th grade.
“We have two Davis Scholars from South Africa and two from Ukraine. The other countries are Lithuania, Jamaica, Brazil, Kenya, the Republic of Moldova, and Somaliland. Those are perspectives that by large wouldn’t necessarily be part of our student population if we didn’t have the Davis Scholars program,” said Jill Thompson, Director of Admissions and Coordinator of the Davis International Scholars Program at Andover.
The three day retreat began with the scholars familiarizing themselves with Taft and meeting other Scholars who attended. The following morning, the attendees drove to New York City and attended a tour of the city, according to Olwethu Ngubo ’21, a Davis Scholar from South Africa.
Ngubo said that she benefited from the experience, especially from the opportunity to interact with a diverse body of people. Ngubo also stressed the importance of seeking help as well as expanding one’s reach to others.
“One thing in particular that I learned was that you can never be afraid to ask for help. You are never going to be able to do anything right if you don’t ask for help. Another was you should put yourself out there; don’t wait for people to come to you because nobody will,” said Ngubo.
The commemoration of the tenth anniversary was just one event that the Andover Davis Scholars have participated in this term.
“We keep on getting these opportunities. Besides going to Taft, we went to New York City, which I had never been to before,” said Mariana Silva ’20, a Davis Scholar from Brazil.
Explaining the motive behind the retreat, said Thompson, “[We] decided that it would be a really interesting to get all the students from the member schools together… to have the opportunity to meet one another and talk about things they share in common and learn from one another and create a stronger Davis community among all of the member schools.”
According to Thompson, the retreat was a networking and career exploring opportunity. The third and last day of the retreat featured panels from both Davis Scholars in college and other involved figures. They spoke on the resources that boarding schools provide, the transition from high school to college, and the eventual journey to the professional world. Following the talk, the current scholars were able to ask the panelists questions regarding their experiences.
“For me, I think [the speakers] spoke a lot about utilizing how much is provided for you out of boarding school and making the most of it, but also having a very balanced life where you are not only studying the entire time but you are making friends, you’re making memories,” said Emily Ko ’20, a Davis Scholar from Jamaica.
According to Lance Odden ’57, Director of the Davis International Scholars Program, the retreat was a huge success in allowing the scholars form life-lasting connections with other international students.
“They formed great friendships. You could see kids hugging each other as they were departing, of course, they didn’t even know each other three days before,” said Odden.
Silva also emphasized the inviting network and community she found with the Davis Scholars retreat.
“It’s very welcoming to know that there are people in the same situation as you. It’s all international students who didn’t come in as [Juniors]. That’s not a big group of students so when you come into campus, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m the only one.’ But the Davis Scholarship, through our meetings, and events like the retreat, it just shows that you aren’t alone and that’s really welcoming,” said Silva.
The Davis International Scholars Program continues to look into future plans. According to Thompson, the hope is for the scholars to return to better their home country using what they gained during their time at the schools in America.
Odden said, “Find a way to earn a career where you help yourself and then begin to help others and then when you have a lot, find a way to give back and try to make a community from where you came a better place. If it’s not the community from where you came, it’s the community in which you live — make that a better place. The hope is that many will come back but no matter what, they will make a difference in the lives of the world they live in.”