Learn more about the experience of our students

You have already seen their faces in the campaign so we thought we would give you a more in-depth perspective on their experience. 🙂 Meet our students Nhung, Tim and Miro.
Nhung joined us this school year, Miro is our Year 3 student and Tim is part of our 2-year program graduating this year. Enjoy reading this interview!

Why did you apply to LEAF Academy?

Tim: When I was 15 years old, I realized that a one-fits-all system of Czech public education suppresses my potential and does not allow me to grow. While I already knew that my future path is leaning towards economics and politics. I had to study many other compulsory subjects which I didn’t find important such as chemistry or physics. I knew that I needed a change. I applied to LEAF because I knew that students at a 2-year program are flexible in choosing their subjects, which later would allow me to master my areas of study. Last year, I took the AP exams in Economics, Political Science, and Statistics, while this year I have selected the English Language, European History, and Calculus exams. I enjoy attending my classes and my school is no longer the nightmare I try to escape.

Miro: I wanted to experience something new, to learn English and it looked like an innovative educational system for me. I was tired of memorizing some subjects which I was supposed to learn. LEAF Academy was a place where I wanted to learn differently.

Nhung: I applied to LEAF Academy in order to improve, challenge, develop and mature myself both in academics and identity. I grew up observing Slovak and Vietnamese culture and have a desire to use this knowledge and awareness to enhance the region at least a bit. LEAF Academy helps, guides, supports and pushes me to do this. I was very interested and curious about the class Entrepreneurial Leadership as well.

When you look back at the first moments in LEAF Academy what has surprised you?

Tim: My parents and I were really stressed about changing schools. On my way to Bratislava, I was wondering if I’d manage to make any new friends. The second I entered our residence building, a funny Austrian guy jumped right at me and welcomed me with a warm hug. He smiled and introduced me to all of his friends. My hands stopped shaking from the stress, and I realized that I have not left my home back at Prague, but I actually entered a new one.

Miro: At the beginning I was not sure whether LEAF Academy was the right place for me to be. I was complaining a lot and I hoped that my experience would get better, And it got better! Overtime, with the support from few people I changed my view. I started to focus more on things I get rather than what I lost. Studying here closed a lot of doors for me, however, what I see now is that it opened many more.

Nhung: I was very surprised at how different LEAF Academy operates and teaches compared to classic Slovak schools. We get to work in teams so much more and we are almost always in different teams with different teammates. This is really beneficial because you get to communicate with all kinds of people. Even for someone like me who is really shy, after awhile you get comfortable to interact with others. People here are truly accepting and entertaining. There are also many opportunities of sharing and being creative. What surprised me the most, was how close people got here in a very short amount of time. Those new relationships are still strong; and to me, those relationships are the things that I cherish. I am grateful for being at LEAF Academy.

What do you enjoy about your studies and life at LEAF Academy?

Miro: Life at LA has lot of advantages from many aspects. One part of our life at LA is that we have experiential weeks throughout the year where we can try unordinary stuff. For example the very first week of 2019 we had the option choose four experiential activities. From Hardcore hikes to just walking around museums and galleries. I am happy that I decided for the Hardcore hike where we slept outside. We hiked for 6 hours and then we had to build our camp. It is very hard to build such a camp in winter but we did it! It was an incredible experience for me. I was completely outside of my comfort zone. Sleeping outside when the temperature is minus 15 degrees celsius is extraordinary and I am grateful that I could be a part of it. This was just one of the many experiences we have and such opportunity make me very excited about LA.

Secondly about my studies, I like that LA provides AP courses which are beyond the curriculum of high school. I am personally learning Math and Economics which also covers university level content. That is amazing because I choose APs to deepen my interest and understanding of these subjects.

Nhung: I enjoy the human interactions that I have during classes. Those interactions are to me the moments I learn the most. When we talk about a topic, I have a perception that may be different from my classmates however our discussions allow for a better understanding of the different viewpoints. Sometimes we get into heated discussions and since we live together it can be challenging. However, there is this big understanding and support among us, at least my class, that seems to resolve it all the time.

Whom would you recommend to study at LEAF Academy?

Miro: For people who want to grow. At LA there is a motivational environment. It often motivates me when I see what my peers have achieved. For me LA is a place where I grew up in many areas from academics and soft skills to more exercising and self-reflecting.

Nhung: I would recommend LEAF Academy to all the students that just want to try something else, something new, different and have the desire to succeed and improve in life. LA is for students willing to take the risks to achieve what they want. I would also say that it will be hard, confusing and you will frown a lot; but it will be all worth it. The experiences will be unexchangeable!

Do you have a favorite subject and a teacher at the school?

Tim: My favorite subject has been the study of Macro- and Microeconomics. Our lovely principal, Matej Sapak, was our teacher. When I first entered the class, I was very confident in my knowledge of economics (also known as a Donner Kruger effect. Check it out!). But then, I was introduced to a fascinating interpretation of various market phenomena through various graphical analysis and business modules. I was struck by the clarity with which economics explains how the world functions.

Miro: When I started to think about this question, far more than one teacher come to my mind. I like my teachers and most of them I also consider as friends. It’s also a hard choice about subject. Depends from class to class but my favorite classes are Calculus, Economics and Character Development. Calculus is special for me because I like mathematics and this course opens doors to university curriculum. Econ is a subject which connects logic with discussions about how things work in our lives. The last Character Development provides a place for self-discovery, because of it, I realized what are my key values and I have set some goals because of it.

Nhung: My favorite subject is Entrepreneurial Leadership because we do unpredictable things that you often think are meaningless. Often, you may ask yourself ‘why should I be doing this’? But these activities are actually interesting and you learn a lot from it without realizing it. They shape you in a way.

In what co-curricular or other activities are you involved in?

Tim: On the second week of the school, I signed up for different activities and clubs. My friends and I have formed a team for the international essay competition. I also became the leader of our school debate club; and together with my team, we have advanced to the national finals. This year, I was elected to become the Residential Assistant at our hall.

Miro: My co-curiculars are math camps\competitions, playing chess, exercising and swimming in cold water. Let me describe them one by one.

I started attending math camps when I was ten years old. From then I spent more than 30 weeks in various math related camps. I like problem solving and that’s why it is still one of my hobbies at LA.

Chess has also been part of my life for a long time. I have been playing chess for 13 years. I started when I was just four. Currently I am playing approximately every second weekend and I am also organizing a LA tournament for the second year.

To the last two activities I mentioned, I would just say that I need to distract myself from my academic life. Exercising and swimming in cold water helps my physically as well as mentally. Because of one of my classmates at LA, I started to climb regularly. It is a very enjoyable and challenging sport.

Nhung: I am a part of the acapella team, dance club and cooking club. I was involved in yoga club and art history club, but decided to drop them to have more free time. One amazing and cool thing about LEAF is that they have a variety of clubs and activities you can join and if you don’t like any of them you can make your own!

When it comes to activities outside of LEAF, I am a part of the Vietnamese community and the Youth Vietnamese community here in Slovakia. I am also a member of the ongoing project Time For Words and many other things that I will keep unknown.

What would you like to study in the future? (Or what do you want to accomplish in the future?)

Tim: LEAF Academy allowed me to develop my talent in the field of politics. But in order to understand the topic to its fullest extent, I have applied to read the course of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at various universities in Great Britain. I was already accepted to study in London, and hopefully, this path would allow me to positively contribute to the development of the Central European region.

Miro: I don’t know the answer to both of those questions. I am going to study something math related. maybe computer science. In the future I want to inspire others through my actions. There aren’t better moments than when I see that people around me are growing. I don’t know how to do that yet. One of my hobbies at the moment is to tutor maths. I feel very satisfied when I see the progress and a change in thinking.

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