Life@Woodstock Winter 2017

Page 1

Life @ Woodstock

Winter 2017 Winter 2017


Activity Week


From the Principal

Our friendships define us and our friendships direct us – influencing our perspectives, our decisions and our identity. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn claims that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Our friendships define us and our friendships direct us – influencing our perspectives, our decisions and our identity. This is a truth we take seriously at Woodstock, for in the remarkable diversity of this international community, young people make friendships which can last a lifetime. And these friendships can shape a young person’s destiny as powerfully as any of the other influences they experience here. Friendships enable young people to learn from others but, most importantly, they allow young people to see their own culture for what it is. It is a curious fact that it is only when we are amongst those who are different from us that we see ourselves (our own values, beliefs and assumptions) for what they are. This is one of the reasons why we work hard to create


such a diverse community – it allows our students to develop a world perspective. From the conversations and friendships which take place, young people have an opportunity to recognise their common humanity. This is the recognition that differences of colour, creed and circumstance are not the fundamental essence of who we are – for beneath these differences we are all human beings inhabiting the same planet. This is the global mindedness which can be one of Woodstock’s greatest gifts to its students. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa. It’s the world’s richest hominin site, home to approximately 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils. One particular quotation on the walls of the museum caught my eye. It summarises the conclusions of years of research and

enquiry based on ancient fossil records: Human populations appear to be different in terms of colour, body size, limb proportions, hair texture and other physical attributes. Beneath the surface, we are all virtually identical. There is no genetic boundary for race. We are one species. Here at Woodstock, young people discover this transforming reality through the wonder of friendship – friendship forged across the barriers which often divide us and fragment us. It is in through these global friendships that young people can become global souls – able to see things differently and to develop a whole new way of engaging with the world.

Roundsquare in South Africa

A group of five students and two staff chaperones headed to Cape Town, South Africa for the Annual Round Square International Conference. The group did a 5 day pre-conference tour

around Cape Town which included Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost tip of Africa, Table Mountain and other spots around Cape Town! The RSIC itself lasted for five days and included a

service day, hiking day and the rest of the time listening to inspirational public speakers.

Mapping the future

Woodstock School was pleased to host our own third annual college fair, held shortly after the IC3 admission conference in Delhi. This year saw record attendance of 60 colleges from 13 countries filling the gym, and

participation from 4 local schools. Hats off to Ms. Swati Shrestha, College Counselor, who organized the logistics for this year’s fair. Students made full use of the fair to speak to colleges and ask questions about courses

and scholarships, and the school has received positive feedback from the participating colleges about the high quality of conversations they held with Woodstockers.


An evening with Mr. Bond

Whether in Mussoorie or other parts of India, Ruskin Bond has always been a household name. At Woodstock, apart from being an integral part of our curriculum, he is always a welcome guest. On Tuesday 5th September,

Woodstock hosted a screening of ‘The Black Cat’, directed by the up and coming Bhargav Sakia, featuring Tom Alter (class of ’68) and Shahnaz Patel, the story is based on Ruskin Bond’s short story of the same name. It was a

wonderful evening with a lively Q&A after the movie allowing students to interact with both Mr. Sakia and Mr. Bond.

In tune with the times

It is not uncommon to hear parents say that they chose Woodstock because of its reputed music programme. Music education at Woodstock has been a distinct pillar over the course of the long history of the school. There is a heavy investment in the programme, whether it be resources or in the staffing, in order to sustain a vibrant academic curriculum in the music courses and in the instrumental programme. The choir, the orchestra


and the band are the focus while there are a significant number of students taking lessons in Indian music and in piano. The music courses provide academic credit for the fulfillment of graduation requirements. Students also have the option of taking music as a non-credit subject. The music block in the school is of a conservatory level, consisting of ten teaching studios, a keyboard lab, a band room, twenty-six practice rooms

and instrument storage rooms. Regular performances take place throughout the year, whether it be the informal recitals every week or the formal concerts twice in a year. Over twothirds of the students across the school are involved in the performances. The alumni of the school continue to strongly support the unique music education at Woodstock in the context of the Indian continent.

Goalathon project in the nearby Sanatam Dharam village. As the years have gone by, Goalathon has grown in its significance and along with the student body there are many others who look forward to it as well. The excitement for Goalathon was so big that the school presidents of 2015, Eriko and Sanghyeon, created “Swishathon”, which is essentially the same concept but with basketball, rather than football.

Goalathon was started in 2011 by the school presidents, Kritika and Eu san. It is a charity event in which students and staff, along with a few external teams from the area, play football to raise money for a good cause. Teams are sponsored by Woodstock students and staff, and the teams raise money each time they score a goal. There are many incentives to push students to score as many goals as they can such as the Golden boot trophy for the

player with the most goals, or a special dinner for the team that raises the most money. This year, the team that raised the most money was one of the Senior girls’ teams with a total of Rs 30,000. Each year, the money helps to fund a different initiative taken on by the Community Engagement team. This year, we were able to raise a total of Rs 1,50,000 which will help to finance a water conservation and harvesting


Centre For Imagination In their constant endeavor to continue enriching what students receive through a Woodstock education, both the programme of the Centre for Imagination and its plan for renovation of the building have further developed over the last few months. Since August, the Centre has hosted resident scholars: Hindi-Urdu expert, Dr. Richard Delacy from Harvard, Board President emeritus, Dr. Eleanor Nicholson, focusing on women in leadership, and Mr. Arjun Puri, from O.P. Jindal University, due to arrive in November, to explore with students the Art of Curiosity. Science projects that include a weather station, a plastic-waste incinerator, and a gravitypowered light are well underway, along


with independent student projects in areas of interest, such as creating Arabic-English material for Syrian refugee children studying in primary schools, starting a student-run cafĂŠ, and a project that involves illustrating the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. A team of fourteen interns run the current building and programme, including planning, advertising, and hosting weekly events from bonfires to documentary screenings and panel discussions. Each day, the current building offers a quiet, reflective, and comfortable space for study and meaningful interaction. As plans for renovation take further shape (with considerable input from students and teachers!), the potential

for the increased impact of the Centre for Imagination on opportunities for Woodstock students becomes more and more clear and exciting! We eagerly await the time when the requisite funds will be in place to carry out the renovation.

The Community Engagement Programme at Woodstock begins its fourth year by developing new initiatives, celebrating great successes in continuing projects, and reflecting upon partnerships with nearby

communities. Such reflection is essential for students to make deeper connections with the people that they regularly interact with, and in turn, learn about the world around them.

When asked, “What are the personal take-aways from your involvement with a Community Engagement project?” Students responded:

Community Engagement

Tanishq Daniel, Grade 11, Water Conservation Project

Summer Kang, Grade 12, Sonathan Dharam School Project

Jigya Talwar, Grade 10, MGVS Kaplani School Project

Pragya Mittal, Grade 12, Women’s Self Help Groups Project

“I used to believe that water was a basic right for me, while students of the same age were not getting the water they needed in their schools. We have always been taught to not take for granted what we have, but I think experiencing it first hand made all the difference.”

“My engagement has made me more confident, especially with leadership and in my ability to make a difference in the community. Community Engagement has made me realize that I am very passionate with the ideology of helping other people, especially those less fortunate.”

“Through my involvement, I have learned the value of water and how I can do my part in helping people who do not have enough water. For example, now I know the logistics behind water harvesting and now I can pass on my knowledge to other people.”

“Frequently interacting with women from backgrounds so different from mine has taught me a lot about how to effectively communicate and connect with different people. Also, seeing women work through problems that I could never even imagine has taught me how to empathize with, and properly respond to such issues.”


Samarvir: (Rajasthan) My experience so far in this marvelous institution has been interesting indeed. I’ve been exposed to people from different ethnicity, nationalities and cultures. My dorm parents have been extremely supportive as have the older students. For a day or two, I faced a bit of homesickness which I overcame soon after. I’m enjoying myself here and I hope to take back great memories from boarding school. Minjae Kim, (Korea) Since I have lived in Chennai for the past 3 years, I thought living in Mussoorie would not be a very different place for me to explore. However, it is so distinct from what I have experienced in Chennai. There are so many amazing Woodstock-y things that cannot be explained in words. Living in dorms amongst this loving community, meeting new friends, and hiking up to school with my lovely monkey fellows (classmates) has been amazing so far, and I am sure that this will keep going till I graduate. I can’t wait to go to school everyday!

Armaan Batra (Delhi)

New Students

Woodstock has been very fun and interesting so far! I have made a lot of new friends from different backgrounds. My favourite memory so far has been going to Mud Cup Cafe in the bazzar with a few of my friends and bonding with them on weekends talking till late nights. Everyone in dorms is very welcoming and the dorm parents have been very kind and helpful. Nothing much has been “sad” as yet. Dorm life is amazing and truly a life time experience. Your friends become your brothers, as we do everything with each other. I’m looking forward to having many more unrememberable experiences! Yoojin (Korea) I have liked this school so far. I love the people around me and the environment. My favorite memory here is having advisory nights at Little Llamas. It was amazing. I miss my family and my old friends though. I love the dorm and dorm parents. They keep

students quiet during study hall and are very nice. It is a fun experience to be in Woodstock. Swastika (Indian, lives in Turkey) Moving from the ever beautiful bridges and mosques in Istanbul, Turkey, I was heart-broken to leave old strong-bonded relationships that were nurtured with love and care and the soulful nature that was dear and precious to my aspiring hopes and dreams. However, I couldn’t help have a grin on my face as I made my way with hands full of bags and parents by my side to Woodstock. I have only been here for a couple of weeks, but knowing part of the community of wise teachers, mindful classmates and lovely dorm parents (Mr. Ady, Ms. Priya, Ms. Ronita, Ms. Prarthna, Ms. Mijung - that you so much for making MIDLANDS such a cozy place for us), I feel as if this is my second home already. I thought being new would be hard, as of course,

Field Day Determination, enthusiasm, fun, comradery, energy; just a few words that could be used in reference to the Early and Middle Years Field Day. The day started with some trepidation, rain was forecast for the first time since Monsoon! Who ever heard of it raining in Mussoorie in November? Mr. Crider’s ability to summon precipitation by organizing an outdoor event at Woodstock seemed to be at its peak. Fortunately, although there was some light cloud cover, not a drop of rain fell on Hanson Field. Throughout the day the students


I would be surrounded with new faces in a new place. Although it was a challenge, in the beginning, I know that this was the perfect place for me - I mean, I have already found my best friend and a twin. This place has the most surreal beauty and people - all in all, making it feel like home already. I don’t really feel like a new student because there is always someone beside you being your friend, and that’s the beauty of it all - Woodstock is a place where we all come together, no matter if you are new or returning. As Lao Tzu once said that “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with one step.” I have only taken one step in this adventurous journey, and I can’t wait for the thousand more miles to come.

Exchange Student (MackenzieGrade 10): Coming to Woodstock as an exchange student was a massive jump from my school in Australia. Simply the culture difference is enormous - it’s been challenging but a fun experience adjusting to this. Woodstock School is similar to my own back home but does

have its differences. The first thing that I noticed which was different is the community. The teachers and students honestly care for you and want to see you achieve success. Being at a boarding school is different from my own but has bought many positives. Relying on myself for everything and not always having mum there to do everything is helping me develop vital skills. There’s been times when all I could think about was going home and the amazing time I’d be having there but, I know that the experience that I’m having here will be life changing. Coming into a grade over half way through school has been hard as they already have their “set” friendship groups. Although, most students have been welcoming. The dorm parents are one of the best things about Woodstock! They are constantly making you feel happy and at home and are always there if you need someone to talk to. It’s been a positive and challenging experience thus far!

Faisal Qadir, grade 11 (Ladakh)

utopian for me. I had applied for admission very late, I could not afford the fees, I needed aid and that seemed difficult to come, I still was working hard to make it through but half heartedly, as I somehow knew for certain, I am not going to make it to Woodstock. Coming to Woodstock, the initial days were quite hard for me, as this community with all this diversity was conducive but hard to blend in with. But I took pleasure of the difficulties as these were the signs that I was changing and the reason I came to Woodstock was to change to a better, global minded person. Back where I used to study, I used to be one of the intelligent students of my section. I did well in studies, but here at Woodstock, all that went down the drain, the education standards and teaching methodology are so high up than any other school that I struggled a lot coping up with the class, I also had to make some changes to my courses and goals, in order to bring down the pressure to the level I could sustain. Woodstock so far has been a very good experience.

Late June Woodstock for me was

participated in a great variety of events, some traditional track and field, and some that were less likely to feature in the Olympics but more likely to create laughter. The sack race in particular was a definite highlight. High-jump, shot-put, sprints and relays all featured and the combination of big smiles between events and determined faces during events summed up what the day was all about – enjoying the outdoors, building relationships, competing, new experiences, students trying their best and good sportsmanship. The day ended with staff vs. student relays in which the staff were put to shame by their much younger opponents. In the end the Merlins house narrowly defeated Condors with Eagles not far behind but really, the results counted for little compared to the fun enjoyed by all throughout the day. A huge

thanks needs to go to Mr. Crider and his team for the great organization that made the Field Day possible. The students also need to be congratulated

for their exemplary behavior and positive attitudes throughout the day.


Arush Puri- Friendship Day was a great event. It helped me get to know my seniors much better than before. My senior and I chose an 80’s theme and we dressed in baggy clothing and wore chains. Summer and I interact much more now as compared to before Friendship Day. Our group didn’t really participate in any of the dares. The parade was exciting and I was interested to look at other people’s costumes. However, it was also a little awkward as everyone on the side of the parade was watching us. Overall, I had a really good time on Friendship Day and enjoyed the experience thoroughly!


Nirvigna Thapa- This year’s Friendship Day was very fun and amusing. We dressed up as gangsters. Sachin and I were chosen by Sera, Grade 12. Since we already knew her, I felt very comfortable with her and she was very kind to us. Unfortunately, this year we weren’t allowed to do dares which made the day a little boring. However, the parade was amazing as we got to see our fellow classmates and seniors dressed up in wacky costumes. It would have been better if we got to eat lunch, or order in with our seniors to develop better relationships with them. Overall, it was quite nice to see each other in crazy costumes that day.

Warris Godara- Friendship Day was an event filled with fun and frolic. This convivial day helped Freshman develop relationships with their seniors. According to me, this experience is vital in senior school. I was dressed up as Bane from Batman. This day helped create a cordial relationship that would be beneficial throughout this year. My other classmates also seemed to have an enjoyable day with their designated seniors. The parade was fantastic as we got to see each other’s costumes while walking from the main gate to the quad. It was a bit embarrassing as there were numerous people gathered to see it. Overall, Friendship Day was an enjoyable, entertaining, and a lively experience.

Friendship Day

Aadya Aryal- I dressed up as a horror movie character for Friendship Day. My Friendship Day experience was a lot of fun, and it really helped me interact with people I had never previously spoken to. Preparing for Friendship Day as well as taking pictures and walking in the parade were all really enjoyable! I think Friendship Day is a great way to form friendships between grades. Overall, Friendship Day was an amazing experience, and I am looking forward to doing it in Grade 12!

Suryansh Singh- This year’s Friendship Day was extremely fun. We dressed up as the Beatles. Friendship Day helped me get to know the seniors better. The parade was the best part of Friendship Day as that’s when we really talked the most since we were trying to decide how to pose for pictures or what dares should be given to other classmates.

Jigmet Angmo- Friendship Day was an amazing opportunity for the 9th graders to interact with the seniors. Arush and I were paired up with Summer. We dressed up enthusiastically as the people from the 80s. We even went on a parade, walking in from the school gate with our seniors. As we were walking into the school, we acted like our characters with other grades, teachers and employees watching and clicking pictures. Then, we had a photo shoot, where everyone took many pictures with their seniors and classmates. Friendship Day was definitely one of my best memories in Woodstock as it made us feel welcomed into high school.


Big Brother Big Sister Day Big Brother Big Sister Day, otherwise known as BBBS, is a traditional Woodstock event organised by the National Honor Society (NHS). On this day an Upper Years student is paired with an Early Years student. We spent the day together playing games such as Duck Duck Goose, Just Dance and many more. All the students enjoyed taking pictures and jumping up and down on a massive trampoline! Once the kids finished with all the excitement of meeting Big brother/ Big sister, they got to eat a lavish lunch with yummy food such as churros, cranberry juice, smileys, chocolate cake and a lot of candy! This year, the NHS took everyone to the hot, cacti-filled desert of the Wild Wild West! Seniors today still remember their older “brothers” and “sisters” and the exciting memories they made in just a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.


Indian Cultural Week Through the year, Woodstock celebrates the diverse community that lives, studies and works here. Every year, around Indian Independence Day, the entire school has a week of festivities and celebrations. This year, the theme for the week was Punjab. Students, staff and visitors at school enjoyed the traditional dances from Punjab and more importantly some lip smacking food which the state is famous for!


Connect. Engage. Network. Alumni Engagement Programs at Woodstock For students at Woodstock days are full of classes, sports, music and many other amazing enrichment activities, but what happens after they graduate? Every student or faculty member who leave Woodstock become automatic members of our alumni community. Here is your guide to some of the services and resources available to the wider alumni community: Quadrangle Alumni Magazine

Alumni Website

The Quadrangle Alumni Magazine is produced annually and includes updates from Woodstock, profiles of alumni around the world, reunion and gathering highlights and class jottings. This is available in print to those who wish to receive it, and online.

The alumni website is the gateway to all the offerings and links of the alumni program. Community members can find all print and online alumni publications and mailings, lists of upcoming events, reunion planning guidelines, and access the password protected alumni portal to maintain their own profiles, search for and contact other alumni community members.

Group look for ways to engage with fellow Woodstock schoolmates, teachers and members.

Read the latest Woodstock eNews Alumni Connections The relaunched newsletter is emailed quarterly to all alumni worldwide. It includes news from the Principal

Professional Networking & Mentoring Opportunities

Reunions, Events and Gatherings Each year alumni reunions, gatherings and events are hosted by WS Alumni Office, FWS, Curry Clubs, or class and regional groups around the world. Look for listings on the alumni website, Facebook, via E-Newsletters and email invitations. Send us your details too so we can advertise your events too!

In May 2017 Woodstock launched an online community with LinkedIn and Facebook integration to enable alumni and graduating students to connect professionally, and to look for or be a mentor. This promises to be a significant resource for our global community to assist one another as they look for guidance in academic and career choices. The platform provides a bi-monthly email update.

Social Media Through, Instagram @woodstockalumni, and Woodstock School Alumni LinkedIn


(formerly Updates from the Principal), upcoming alumni events, alumni spotlight feature, and links to alumni platforms and programs to facilitate alumni connections and engagement.

Whispering Pines yearbooks online

Alumni Spotlights

Lost your yearbook, or want to check out another yearbook in search of former classmates or activities. You can find copies of all prior Whispering Pines at news.

Through our print, email and online offerings we

Alumni And Development News on the Woodstock School blog, through social media alumni channels, and also in the Quadrangle Alumni Magazine.

Visits, tours and other requests We are happy to help in anyway we can. Contact the alumni department to arrange a tour, request assistance with reunion planning, request a transcript, or for us to connect you with departments like the Center for Imagination where you could volunteer, and engage with students through our programs. showcase accomplishments and activities that alumni achieve and engage in after leaving Woodstock. Look for the Alumni Spotlight feature

The Woodstock Fund for Excellence Why your Support Matters We rely on our Woodstock community — current parents, alumni, board members and friends — to help ensure our ability to offer an exceptional education to all our students. Woodstock offers different ways to get involved. No matter how you choose to support the school; through annual giving, student scholarships, funding new initiatives, or leaving a legacy, your generosity will make a big difference. Consider giving today by making Woodstock one of your philanthropic priorities, and invest in the future of our students! Contributions touch every aspect of the school, from scholarships for students, professional development opportunities for staff, academic and extracurricular programs in science, performing arts, sports, outdoor education, and infrastructure projects like updating academic campus building, staff and employee housing and more. On an annual basis, your gifts helps us apply financial resources to the areas of greatest need. Your participation ensures the school’s solid financial future and inspires others to support and invest in the school. Below are common questions and answers about our annual giving programme. For more information, please contact the office of Alumni and Development at alumni@ What is annual giving and the Woodstock Fund for Excellence? Annual giving focuses on the school’s annual fundraising priority. Each year, all members of our community (parents, alumni, board members, staff and friends) are asked to make a donation to Woodstock. The revenues raised through our annual giving programme support the Woodstock Fund for Excellence. This is our unrestricted fund, which means we can

support projects and initiatives where resources are required most. In doing so it helps provide our students with an exemplary Woodstock education now and into the future.

Why is annual giving so important? What does it fund? Tuition covers the majority of the school’s annual budget; annual giving and other major gifts pays for the

essentials needed for excellence, and for projects and programmes required to sure that the school stays relevant into the future.

Why is a gift of ANY size important to the Woodstock Fund for Excellence? Support of the Woodstock Fund for Excellence represents your belief in the continuation of the Woodstock School mission and your dedication to the


FEATURED ANNUAL FUND PROJECT The Centre for Imagination The Centre for Imagination is undertaking ambitious plans to redevelop a space into a home that’s fitting for its grand aspirations and potential. Find out more about the Centre for Imagination and how you can support the next stage in its future. Designate your support to the Centre’s plans at maintenance of this vision for current and future students. Your gift of any amount demonstrates to our alumni, past/current parents and foundations your continued commitment to the Woodstock community. Small gifts add together to become large ventures.

Can I designate my gift? Unrestricted gifts from donors (gifts that can be applied where needed most) provide Woodstock with the greatest degree of flexibility to respond to needs that arise throughout the year. However, donors may direct their contribution to one of the specific programmes – simply specify which area you want to support when you make your donation.

I’m not sure which fund to support. Which is the most useful for Woodstock? Which ever fund you choose to support, you can rest assured that your donation will be put to work as effectively as possible. But if you’re not sure which area you want to support, a donation to the Woodstock Fund for Excellence gives the school the most flexibility to use the money where the community needs it most. As the fund is unrestricted, Woodstock can use the money to support the highest priority projects and initiatives.

Who is asked to contribute to the Woodstock Fund for Excellence? The Woodstock Fund for Excellence helps support the ENTIRE Woodstock community; accordingly, we seek help


from the worldwide community of past and present parents, alumni, board members, friends and staff.

Can I make a gift to the Woodstock Fund for Excellence over a period of time? Consider a monthly or a sustained gift. A sustaining gift gives you control of your monthly expenses but also demonstrates your fiscal support of Woodstock’s current and future mission. The monthly charge on your credit card can be cancelled at any time on your request.

Is my gift tax-deductible? Gifts made directly to Woodstock School by residents of India are eligible for tax benefit under section 80G. Gifts made by residents of the US to the Friends of Woodstock Foundation, which is a United States IRS-recognized not-for-profit/ 501(3)(c) organization, are eligible for tax benefit in the US. Donations by non-Indian residents, who are not eligible for (or do not require) tax relief in the US or India can be made directly to Woodstock School. Donors may qualify for tax benefits in accordance with the laws of their respective countries.

How does the Woodstock Fund for Excellence affect Woodstock’s operating budget? Each year Woodstock School depends on a combination of fee income and charitable contributions to achieve its educational objectives. Contributions to the Woodstock Fund for Excellence

meet immediate needs and are allocated towards capital project improvements such as staff and employee housing, special student projects and professional development opportunities for staff.

Do all international independent schools like Woodstock fundraise? Yes, most international independent schools fund-raise. Tuition is the ‘price tag’ for an independent international school education, but it is not the true cost.

Why doesn’t the school just raise the tuition to cover the true costs of a Woodstock Education? Woodstock works hard to maintain tuition rates that are comparable with peer schools and kept at a level that makes an international independent school education in India possible for a wide scope of families with varying economic circumstances. Keeping tuition rates moderated, without compromising the quality of our educational programme, is an important core value of Woodstock.

What is the Friends of Woodstock Foundation? Donations can be made to Friends of Woodstock School Foundation (FWS), an independent 501(c) (3) Non-Profit Organization. FWS supports the educational mission and purposes of Woodstock School and welcomes your donations. Your donations to FWS are tax exempt in accordance with US law.

Education is the biggest equalizer– you can come from any background, but with truly equal opportunity to learn, you grow to be an equal. - Shash Mody ‘01 Shash Mody graduated from Woodstock in 2001, having spent two years at the school. He studied Economics and Finance with a minor in Mathematics in Hiram College, Ohio, and later received an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Shash has worked in finance, education, and technology, and currently works at Amazon as a Product Manager. - we had the opportunity to catch up with Shash in Seattle.

What have you been doing since finishing University? After college, I went into financial services, first working with Progressive Insurance and later with KPMG Consulting LLC as a management consultant. In 2007, I received an exciting opportunity to work in microfinance at Unitus (through a grant by the Gates Foundation), to provide poor and socially marginalized households access to wide range of affordable, high quality financial products and services, including credit, savings, and insurance. Over four years, I worked with several of our 23 microfinance partner institutions in India, Southeast Asia, South/ Latin America and East Africa who ultimately were able to deliver quality microfinance services to more than 12 million poor families . In 2010, I saw an opportunity for creating content and offering quality, affordable education to lower-middle income students, and co-founded a small school in Lucknow, India. Soon after that, I moved to the US for my MBA., I’ve been at Amazon for four years where I launched Prime Now (Amazon’s 1 hour delivery service) and a wholesale distribution channel for Amazon Business. What are you involved in now that you’re passionate about? Outside of work I am an ambassador for Green Dot Public Schools – they serve 10K+ underprivileged students through charter schools (in California, Washington and Tennessee), where 75% of students live below the poverty

line. I also actively support Upaya Social Ventures - they build and scale businesses that create lasting, dignified jobs for the poorest of the poor in India, with over 4000 jobs created across 12 businesses. I am also super passionate about affordable housing and co-founded a small investment firm in Seattle with triple bottom line objectives: resource and energy efficiency, market-driven financial returns, and affordable housing for low income groups. Woodstock Alumni now have the benefit of a Professional Networking Platform - do you wish we had had this when you were graduating? Absolutely! To be able to benefit from the experiences that other people have had is such a gift. The added access to an entire network of alumni doing incredible things, is a great opportunity. Why are mentors important? Mentors show you light at the end of the tunnel– a good mentor helps set (big) personal and professional goals, holds you accountable to them, and encourages you to learn from failures and persevere through them. What is valuable about the WS experience and why we understand each other in a unique way? We have all been through the same experiences, eaten the same maggi, and tried to sneak out to Mall road when we weren’t allowed to. Life has stood still (in a good way) in that community, survived the grind and

created the same kind of friendships over the years. Tell us more about your time at Woodstock. What do you miss the most? Sunsets and maggi in Char Dukan! How did Woodstock shape who you are? Before coming to Woodstock, I was an introvert. The school gave me an opportunity to succeed and to fail safely. For example, - while running for the co-President of the CARE Committee, I needed to encourage conversation around socially motivated causes and motivate others to get involved. I ran for election while being terrified of public speaking, stood up for a cause I truly believed in while wanting to shrink into my shoes, and developed skills needed to run an organization when I had none - that was what Woodstock gave me. What were you involved in during your time at Woodstock? I played a lot of cricket, and as mentioned earlier, was part of the CARE committee. Spent a lot of time in Char Dukan (doesn’t everyone at Woodstock?). Ate momos and hung out with friends, built deep relationships, set off fireworks and tried not to get caught by dorm parents … A lot of deep friendships were formed during this time. Share with us a note on your time in Mussoorie. Love, friendship, memories…


Parent to Parent

Our association with Woodstock goes back to 2004, while visiting a close friend’s son who was studying there. What struck us was the friendliness and warmth of the students and staff. We loved the general happy atmosphere that prevailed. In our continued interaction with now ex- students, we saw an incredible change in their overall personality and maturity from the time they joined to the time they graduated. We were very impressed with all they had achieved and become. Over the years we visited the school several times, attending two graduations and a few concerts

Every year, Woodstock School organises the Inter house cross country meet. At this meet students from the three houses (Condors, Merlins and Eagles) meet in various races. However, there is a lot more to cross country than completing a race. It is about discipline, talent, hard work, passion and the sense of accomplishment achieved on reaching that finish line. It is also about doing what needs to be done even if you don’t want to do it. This event is made even more special because teachers run along with the students and every runner is aiming


and always found the school positively evolving with the times. For us, the key deciding factor in choosing Woodstock was that the education system builds independent thinkers and confident young adults, pushing you to “think outside the box” and make responsible decisions. The diverse international faculty and student body allows our children the opportunity to experience multiple cultural environments with the ability to grow to be global citizens. Both our children are musically inclined and the robust music program offered, we felt, would be great for them.

at gaining the maximum number of points for his/her house. This is the second year that I have been running cross country at Woodstock. Cross country helps me explore myself, and get a break from reality and people around me. It helps me lose myself in my own thoughts while listening to music at the same time. Although waking up in the morning for practices can be extremely exhausting, the feeling of accomplishment beats it all. There’s just something about Woodstock, and this place that makes me want to wake up in the morning and run! Maybe it’s the wonderful

The healthy atmosphere and clean air of the hills is a big added benefit, given, that good health is one of the best gifts we can give our children. The teachers and staff are very helpful and friendly and the dorm parents take personal care of the children, which makes it easier for us as parents to have them living away from us. Our son Amaan joined Woodstock in 2016 and is now in Grade 7, and our daughter Diya, will be joining next year in Grade 6.

Cross Country location amongst the foothills of Himalayas or just a way of de-stressing myself, and being happy. Nothing feels impossible anymore. And the best thing is that it doesn’t get easy, but becomes more and more challenging each day, allowing me to push myself and reach my greatest potential.


From the Editor

Boarding School is a time of formative experiences and these people who become our close friends are not only catalysts, but also witnesses to our formation and transformation. Students at boarding schools become family and families stick together. So, while you’re off at school learning to excel in academics and discover yourself, you will be establishing some of the best friends in your life along the way. ‘Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together’ – Woodrow T. Wilson - Gopika Menon

Woodstock School Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179 India +91 (135) 263 9000 Instagram : Twitter : Facebook:

Published: The Community Relations Office Main Photograph: Suman Mitra Unattributed Photos: Woodstock Staff Intern: Navya Sethi Editor: Gopika Menon