Why We Love Heathfield by Former Students
Three young women who were first students then staff sum up why Heathfield was such an important influence on their lives.
The impact of Heathfield on my life? Well…it means so much to me that I do not know where to start. Even though I have not been able to go to Heathfield for a few years, it is somehow part of my daily life. Heathfield taught me English and it helped me become an English teacher. At Heathfield I met teachers who enjoyed being there so much they convinced me to try and become one of them. I met teachers who shared their passion with me, and I hope they knew how much they influenced me. I can remember precisely how I gradually, summer after summer, moved up to the advanced level class, where I studied songs, poems and books that will forever be associated with my summer school years. I have been a teacher for six years and my own daughter is now four years old and she loves to hear me speak English. Together, we read some books and she enjoys repeating words she particularly likes. I cannot wait for the day I will be able to go there again with her and make her discover Heathfield. I am sure she will love it as much as me.
Heathfield has made me the woman I am today. Without everything I learnt there I wouldn’t be living in California, miles away from my family, embarking on a PhD. I can safely say that Heathfield not only gave me years of joyous experiences, numerous new skills and friends from all over the world, but it has also gone beyond that to teach me how to become an independent woman, striving for success and standing on my own two feet. It is hard to imagine how going away to Camp yearly, doing a lot of activities and playing with friends can do such a thing, but it does. You learn to be away from your family and still feel safe, how to step outside your comfort zone, be open to new cultures and immerse yourself in them, all while dancing at the disco and making crafts. It is no coincidence that I call Heathfield my second home. I spent every summer of my life there for 14 years and Helen, our director, and her staff watched me grow up from a young 9-year-old, through my teens and well into adulthood as I made the transition from student to staff member.
When I first attended Summer School it was July 2012 and I was 13. I had never been abroad before on my own and, truly speaking, I didn’t want to spend 4 weeks of my summer holidays studying English in a girls’ school. Nevertheless I didn’t have much choice, so I agreed, making my parents promise I wouldn’t have to go back the year after if I didn’t want to. So what made Heathfield so special I had to go back every summer for the next 11 years? Well I guess the first main reason is for the people, their commitment and their enthusiasm. I got totally involved and it was definitely thanks to an amazing staff and to an amazing group of girls. I bet many people will say the same, and I know it’s difficult for someone who has never been there to understand what we are trying to explain… when you go to Heathfield you get caught in what we call the ‘Heathfield bubble’. It’s something that exists between a real place and a state of mind… and languages: you live four weeks of your life in an English school but when you get back you are so enriched, so happy (and so tired!), it’s as if you spent an entire year travelling abroad. Now I’m 26, I speak English fluently and work in a financial company and I must thank my parents for ‘forcing’ me to go to Heathfield. Now when July comes it feels like something is missing!