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Reem Sleiman is a 12th grade student at CIS. Originally from Syria, she lived in Spain before joining CIS as a boarding student.
I remember that summer was close to ending and I had no idea where I was going for school and then stumbled upon CIS. I began the application process and gave it my all. During that week, I was met with a generous offer that allowed me to have an education that I had only wished for that came along with a life-changing boarding experience.

This was of course met with challenges that I, in retrospect, ended up using as learning opportunities for self-growth. I was able to accelerate that process by being in such a closed space with people from all over the world that I just immediately began the journey of finding myself without having to delay it for university or beyond. My time that year had been particularly memorable and, now that I have only recently started my second and final year at CIS, I have come to realize the importance of cherishing the little things rather than chasing after the big, luxurious experiences that CIS had to offer. I used my time in summer to reflect on the friendships that I made and sacrifices that I had to take, the mistakes that I blindly made but restored from and the importance of also prioritizing my academics rather than making my residential experience affect my studies. This, to me, has been a summer I needed to enhance my time at CIS to be able to meet the new faces that joined the community, relive great memories with my friends and continue taking advantage of all the resources that CIS gives to work on my path to success.

Arriving here exactly one year later, I was overwhelmed by the idea that I am halfway done but also that my time is coming close to an end. I had never felt this sense of belonging before, especially coming from a particularly conservative and repressive background that condemned freedom and openness. I had never lived in a community that would welcome me and my mind with open arms, love and acceptance. This was all new to me when I initially arrived and, realizing that my time is almost over has me wondering whether I will ever get to relive this kind of life where me and my ideas are not constantly disapproved before even being heard. This can be too early to think of as of now especially that I had only been here for a month and I have 8 more to grow even more, but this is for me and anyone reading this to not take the good things for granted.As for now, I promise myself to make the most out of what i have left and I invite my peers, teachers and mentors to follow lead. There's a long but intense year ahead of all of us, so let us make use of it!