“I guess no one really knows what to expect when they think of their future, and neither did I when I applied for international boarding school at the beginning of this year. Although… since that day I’m convinced my life has changed forever.

My name is Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe and this year I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to the Eastern Mediterranean International School (EMIS) in Israel. This is a new school with the aim of fostering tolerance, and acceptance, in the youth of the world. By being based, literally, in the middle of a conflict zone, EMIS allows students to see the real-life consequences of conflict throughout society while simultaneously breaking down the barriers that prejudice builds. Within this school there are about 70 students from over 35 different countries including many from both Israel, and Palestine. While 70 may sound like quite a small school, it feels more like a family. We are constantly together, from the minute I wake up with my room-mates to the moment my head hits the pillow again, in the early hours of morning, I am surrounded by more laughter and happiness than I have ever seen before. But we work just as hard as we play, and every one of the students is currently working hard as we begin the two year long IB diploma. This is an internationally recognized qualification that opens up a world of opportunities to further my studies after I graduate from EMIS in 2016.

I have now been in Israel for a month and a half, and it has surpassed all of my wildest dreams. The experience of living in an international community (for EMIS is not the only school on the Kfar where we live) is beyond words. Even the simple feeling of walking to breakfast every morning, down a road lined with palm trees, listening to the peacocks sing, and surrounded by my friends, all while the sun is still rising makes me feel like my life is a movie. Those days when we are lucky enough to leave campus and explore the nearest town remind us how far we’ve traveled from our homes, I still get shocked when I realize I can’t read the street signs or the menus, as they’re all written in Hebrew! But, as I look around at my friends coming from countries I’ve previously only read about in books, far off places like: Poland, Ecuador, Austria, and Lithuania, I remember that is anything is possible. If I, an ordinary girl from a small town in New Zealand, can move to Israel at 17 years old and begin to live my life in the most unbelievable way, then I have no idea what other surprises the future holds for us all.

This truly is a school of breaking barriers and challenging yourself, while at the same time, I have never seen the world as a more inviting place.”

Written by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe

Published in “Franklin County News”, New Zealand

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