Ani, 15, is a student in Explo Foreign Affairs and is here at Explo for his first time. He hopes to go into the military and then enter the foreign affairs sector.
Is this your first time at Explo?
Yes it is. I heard about it through my high school. I think it’s been really fun so far. I’ve learned a lot in the Foreign Affairs Focus Program I’m taking. It’s only a two-week program, but they pack in a lot of knowledge in a short period of time. And they teach it in such a way that it’s really fun, entertaining, and you also learn a lot.
How are your instructors for Explo Foreign Affairs?
They’re great guys, and since they’re kind of young, they know what it’s like for us and how we learn. They’re good about giving us a lot of work, but also giving us break time. And despite being so young, they’ve achieved a lot and have a lot of experience. They’re really fun to learn from.
What have you been learning in your program?
We’ve basically been learning about a different region of the world every day. So for the first couple of days, we covered the basics of what foreign policy is like in the U.S. and around the world. And we do a lot of work taking current world situations, for example the disputed Senkaku Islands off the coast of Japan or the conflict in Syria. We talk about different ways you could apply foreign policy to find our own solutions. We also imitate crisis situations where the teachers will be the media and ask really tough questions, and you have to act as the press secretary and say what you would do in a certain situation. It’s a lot of group work, where we take what they’ve taught us in the lectures and applying it to something a lot more creative. All of it is current, all of it’s applicable, and all of the problems are going to be around when we grow up.
Is this an area you’re interested pursuing professionally?
Definitely. I’m not completely sure about what exactly I want to do, but I want to go into the military. We talk a lot in class about the different career paths you could take with foreign affairs — like the military, a government service, or a think tank. And they give us a lot of career talks — they bring in guest speakers who are scholars, professionals, and government officials to come and talk about what the career options are for this field. It really opens your eyes.
What are your favorite subjects in school?
Probably history and math. I really like the WWII period, which we actually used as an example in class here about how foreign affairs has impacted history, which was really cool.
How do the courses here compare to regular school?
First of all, I find the courses here tougher in some ways, but a lot more interesting in terms of what they teach you and the way they teach it. In Explo Foreign Affairs, you only take one class from nine to four and they make it a really fun experience. They structure the class so you can really enjoy it with pretty fun activities, like they make some of the lessons into games to keep you interested. As much as it’s challenging, I still really like it and look forward to it every day.
What kind of hobbies do you like to do?
I play a lot of sports — baseball, football, paintball — that kind of thing. I also really like to read nonfiction and history books. I read a lot about WWII and also the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think that has helped me with the courses here because one of our major assignments is to write a foreign affairs article about a global issue. So we get to choose from a wide range of topics and issues and use our experience to write a convincing article. I’ll be writing about the U.S. exit strategy.
That's awesome. How are you finding the staff in general?
I think the staff are great. It’s not like being in regular school, where there’s a strong divide between the teacher and student. It’s a closer relationship here because they participate in activities with you, they go on trips with you, and they run a lot of the events around campus. It makes it a little more personal than other programs.
What trip did you go on today?
Paintball — it was a lot of fun. It was pretty crazy at the end — a couple of the Residential Advisors started getting pretty wild out there [laughs]. My RA Same took a whole squad of us and we ran straight up the middle towards the enemy for the fun of it. We got shot up a bunch of times but it was still a lot of fun — and I met a lot of new people.
What’s it like meeting people at Explo?
It’s a good experience to meet people here — it’s especially important to come outside after the 7:30 check-in. As a Focus Program student, you see a lot of the 25 or 30 people in your class, so it’s really easy to only talk to them. But I think it’s really important to come outside and do the evening activities so you can meet all the other people at the program.
How’s your living group?
My living group is pretty awesome. We usually hang out together and all eat together. And our suite tries to plan our weekend trips together so we all can share in that.
How would you describe Explo?
I would describe it as despite being an educational and very academically-oriented program, it doesn’t feel like academics — it just feels like a normal program where you get to have fun and hang out with your friends.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would just like to say that’s it’s a really good program to come to. I’m only a week in and I’ve already had a lot of good experiences. It’s something I’m definitely not going to forget.