On the east bank of the Hudson River, the city of Troy, New York is packed with cheers and laughter as young women from across the globe embark on a unique experience to academic success. You’ll see them exploring the city’s historic buildings, adding colour to sidewalks around campus with chalk, or practising their photography skills in the nooks and crannies that often go unnoticed. They proudly represent Emma Willard School, the nation’s leading college-preparatory boarding and day school for girls.
Over the two centuries since its inception, the School maintains its reputation as a powerhouse for fostering a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, as well as the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.
Girls from all walks of life are welcome here. International students are an integral part of the Emma community — within moments of arriving on campus, many are proud to call it their second home. The welcoming environment ensures new learners will feel at ease to join in and thoroughly enjoy the Emma excursions happening every day.
“Right from the beginning, we make it very clear to all new students — international and domestic — that they are not here as “guests” in this community. They ARE the community,” confirms Gemma Halfi, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “There is a shared sense of ownership and responsibility to care for the community, and we want all students to feel a sense of belonging and to feel confident that they can show up with their full, authentic selves in all areas of the school.”
Halfi plays a pivotal role advising and guiding the School in examining current practices, structures, cultures, and procedures to determine room for growth and improvement. The goal is to expand an already inclusive community towards one of greater equity and belonging. Early plans include working closely with the admissions and student life teams to create a more inclusive experience during Emma’s International Student Orientation.
Since students of over 30 nationalities choose Emma Willard School every year, this orientation kickstarts their seamless transition to boarding school in all the right ways — a mouth-watering luncheon and desserts, a variety of games, and a comprehensive introduction to student leaders and campus resources. Even in Fall 2020, when welcomes were strictly virtual, faculty members ensured regular meet-ups to build community continued online.
The theme of acceptance remains throughout the year to ensure that while students gear up for their futures, they still hold on to pieces of home. During celebrations like Mid-Autumn Festival, Diwali, Lunar New Year, and more, they relish in their customs while sharing enthusiastically with other students who have yet to experience such festivities.
“The Office of DEI and our clubs play a significant role in empowering students of all backgrounds to observe and celebrate cultural or religious holidays despite being so far from home,” explains Halfi.
The Multicultural International American Student Union (MIASU), Emma’s very own international student organisation, allows students to keep the ball rolling on cultural immersion. Together, they strategise and execute a school-wide assembly showcasing songs, dances, poetry, informational presentations, and a fashion show further celebrating the diversity of Emma’s campus community.
Passionate discussions are sparked through the Affinity Group Programme, where students connect with those who come from similar backgrounds. Meanwhile, the Student Diversity Leadership Group is composed of 30 learners committed to weekly meetings during which they identify, discuss, and address community issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
While the lineup of inclusivity-championing offerings is already expansive, Emma faculty members believe there is always room for more. “For example, I run a programme called ‘Classy Conversations’ which is a workshop for students and adults that I facilitate,” says Halfi. “It helps deepen our understanding of class, classism, and socio-economic diversity.”
These initiatives were designed to empower a new generation of ambitious women with the confidence to chart a lifetime of success. Supported and uplifted, they navigate through the first-class, rigorous Emma curriculum, which encompasses over 140 courses and several opportunities to pursue individual interests through personalised Practicum and Signature study programmes. Options abound for artistic aspirants and the athletically inclined as well.
With something for every student, it’s clear that whatever your daughter’s passion is, Emma’s connected community — which is approximately 25% international — can help it come to life. Click here to begin the admissions process today.
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