Lorant Fellow Prince LaPaz ’24 Pursues Passion of Teaching with English Lessons Abroad

As part of the Lorant Fellowship for Most Earnest Endeavor, Prince LaPaz ’24 spent his summer learning German and teaching English at the Excellence Center in Europe, located in Halle, Germany. 

The Lorant Fellowship is an award granted annually to a member of the Upper class who “has the greatest fire in the belly to succeed.” Among the nominated students, the Lorant Fellowship Committee selects three Lorant Finalists to develop a proposal to spend three weeks of their summer in Europe, Africa, or the Near East. At the end of the selection process, one finalist is designated the Lorant Fellow and awarded a grant to fulfill their proposal. Other than LaPaz, Agnes Agosto ’24 and McKenzie Williams ’24 were selected as finalists for the fellowship.

LaPaz took to the stage during All-School Meeting (ASM) on November 6 to recount his experiences as a volunteer. Reflecting on his experience, LaPaz noted how volunteering in a new country exposed him to completely new people and experiences. LaPaz highlighted the contrasts he saw between the United States and Germany.

“That was the first time that I’d been out of the country,” he said, “so it was an entirely new experience. Now I feel like I’ve gained so much more knowledge about other communities and other cultures outside of the United States. Every day I feel lucky because I can see the differences between here and in Germany, and I feel like I’m much more aware about the U.S., about Massachusetts and how it differs from or is similar to other countries,” said LaPaz. 

Kassie Bateman, Instructor in Russian and member of the Lorant Fellowship Committee, elaborated on the values that the Lorant Fellowship hopes to instill in Lorant Finalists as well as the steps in discovering the right proposal.

“We encourage the finalists to pursue projects that they have connections to and a prior demonstrated interest in,” wrote Bateman in an email to The Phillipian. “Follow your passions and don’t be afraid to reach out to people just because you think the answer will be no… You never know what doors may open for you!” 

Bateman continued, “As the students have to research and execute their proposals alone, without the benefit of a faculty member accompanying them as in our [Leaning in the World] programs, Lorant Finalists must demonstrate initiative and independence… They always come up with such creative ideas- it’s inspiring to work with them and get to know them better during this process!”

Starting in his Upper Year, LaPaz began to take German classes at Andover and discovered his love of learning the language. By combining this with his passion for teaching, LaPaz was able to connect two of his daily joys into his proposal and fellowship experience in Germany.

“Do a lot of research and find the things that you genuinely want to do and the things that you genuinely care about. If you’re struggling to find those things, just think about what you do everyday and try to connect those somehow to what you’re doing, like I connected me learning German and I also just love teaching people… I would say [the Fellowship] was definitely great, I loved helping the children, especially since they’re children and they were so amazing and nice. That definitely motivated me to keep on going,” said LaPaz. 

Although the program’s duration is only three weeks, LaPaz emphasized the importance of recognizing how the accumulation of small actions can lead to larger contribution as a community. Through the added efforts of many volunteers, refugees from places like Syria and Ukraine are able to learn at the Excellence Center all year long.

“I would say the most valuable takeaway for me was definitely how much you can do with a volunteer experience. I very much took away how much you can help in even the smallest ways, just teaching those few classes helped a lot, and with enough people then the [Excellence Center in Europe] stays open year-round because there are constant volunteers helping for short periods of time throughout the year. While our individual contributions may be for a short time, together they are long,” said LaPaz.