By Rachael Jennings
Before Dublin, Emily Field attended an all boys’ school.
As a faculty kid at a single-sex school, she felt pretty isolated.
“I had a small friend group, but that was about it,” she explains. “The school goes through 9th grade, and I remember that I had just told the Guidance Counselor: ‘I am not going to apply out! I am going to public school. I am not applying to private school!’”
Emily, a self-described “bubbly extrovert,” wanted to get out and have a new experience, but she was adamant that she would find herself at a large, co-ed public school and break away from the experiences that had tested her and alienated her.
Then, what do you know: she heard the loudspeaker announcement that changed her course and, so far, her life.
“I hear, ‘Emily Field report to Mr. K’s office!’ That was the guidance counselor. Right after I told him that I wanted to go to public school. And I go there, like, come on, what is this about,” she laughs. “And I go to his office, and there is Mr. Parker from Dublin School. Ugh.”
“But then he started talking, and it sounded like my dream school,” she smiles. “I mean, it was my dream school. And in my head, I was just thinking, I decided not to do this, I just decided not to do this, but with everything he was saying about Dublin—it was a small school, a great community, people really wanted me to be there. It was really exciting! I started to think about it.”
Emily is thrilled that she ended up making the decision to come to Dublin. She notices community differences that are striking and, for her, have been transformational.
“In math, at my old school, it was very much fend for yourself,” she explains. “We had our own separate desks. We were trying to survive in the ocean but we didn’t know how to swim. And we were in it on our own. But here at Dublin, we are at tables. I know that seems like a small difference, but it is not. We are working together. We are doing projects. We are working together, not just trying to be better than everyone else. We are looking out for each other.”
The projects and academic problems posed in a Dublin classroom also feel different. To Emily, they feel relevant. For instance, in Ms. Curtis’ math class, she and her classmates worked on a bike project, which asked them to “think about different gear rotation and how the gears on a bike work and how that relates to linear motion.”
“I had never really connected formulas to real-world things,” Emily notes.
More, Dublin’s classrooms are much more discussion-centered.
“We work to talk things through and hear what others have to say instead of just lining up our answers to what the teacher has to say and then hearing, ‘oh, you are wrong or right,’” she elaborates.
“It’s like everyone can be right here in some way. We figure out how to say what we mean better. Our teachers are always searching for something meaningful in what we are saying instead of looking for what’s bad or what to criticize.”
Beyond academics, Emily has thrown herself into new, enriching ventures.
“When I got to Dublin, I told myself I had to try a new sport. At my old school, the athletics fields were not the most inviting,” she says. “So I tried something really new. I am kind of clumsy, I am not very graceful, I went from all boys’ teams to a predominantly all girls team. I tried Dance. I was one of the few people who had never tried Dance before.”
But right away, Emily noticed a difference.
Her peers “were so inviting.”
“They were always cheering me on. It was so foreign to me. I had never had so many people rooting for me,” Emily smiles.
That same quality—the feeling of being surrounded by people who are rooting for you—pervades social life at Dublin.
“Within my friend group or when I am having a bad day, everyone has something to say to make you feel better, but, at the same time, people want to ask questions, sit down and talk about it, figure out if you want to be alone or if you want to talk,” Emily says. “They care about how you are doing, not just getting through the day.”
Inspired by this community atmosphere, she has set the goal of saying hello to more people in passing. “I was so used to just keeping my head down and moving on, not saying hi to many people,” she says. “Here, all these people are smiling and asking how I am. I was like, ‘Oh, you want to talk to me?’”
As she has discovered, they genuinely do.
Two other venues for getting to know people and immersing herself in the community have been the Play and the dorm.
“I’ve done theatre before but not as big a production as this one,” she says. “This is so much singing and choreography and blocking. You have to dance while you are singing! And while you are saying lines! But in the process, I also feel like I’ve become a lot closer with people I don’t normally talk to.”
Emily’s dorm, Monadnock, is one of her favorite places.
“I was so excited to come live in a dorm. If you ask my parents, they would tell you. I was so excited to have a roommate and live with a bunch of girls. I have an amazing roommate.”
“You are sharing a close space, which is kind of scary, but you get to have deep conversations in the Common Room or listen to people who are having a bad day or who are making you laugh at Milk and Cookies,” she explains.
In and outside the dorm, Emily finds the community reassuringly welcoming. Within that community, she feels that she has become more confident in herself.
“Last year, I did not have much confidence in myself,” she says. “It’s weird because I have only been here half a year. But I have grown into myself. I know a lot more about myself now. For instance, I took the Myers Briggs test that all of the juniors take. Ms. Beauzay gives you two options, [both of which could be your personality type], the two that most fit your results. If I had taken it last year, I don’t think I could have picked. I don’t think I would have known which one was me.”
Now, Emily knows. She has a clearer idea of who she is and what she can do.
When she reflects on how she has built confidence, she says that “the first step is to be comfortable with yourself. That means that you aren’t trying to become someone else. It’s like a research paper. If you have a huge topic, you will get lost. If you narrow the topic down to like the bones of exactly who you are, it’s a lot easier to know more about yourself, to know yourself better.”
Dublin has helped her in this journey, and one of her most celebrated parts of the journey is knowing, not necessarily the destination, but all of the places she can go.
“I have a place to go now,” says Emily. “When I leave my dorm, I know that I have places. I can hang out with my roommate or go to Lehmann or the Recital Hall or go for a walk with someone. There are so many places where I can go and be, and be with people who want me to be there.”