Sara Soľárova is a firm believer in the power of change and throughout her LEAF Academy experience, she has explored multiple platforms. Through Model European Parliament, a conference for EU’s youth, where delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs, she was able to influence other youth. It is through this platform and other similar ones where according to her “took matters into her own hands and influenced a small group of people”. She believes that she learned “To be entrepreneurial. Before coming to LEAF Academy, I had never thought of always seeking to find the solution. It might have happened that sometimes when the situation was rather difficult, I gave up or stopped trying to find a long-term solution. After spending two decisive years at LEAF Academy, I learned that no matter the circumstances, there is always a solution”. She reflects “Before LEAF I was a person that needed to push my ideas forward at any cost. I made sure I was heard, even if it meant that some people would not get a word. After studying here for two years, I became calmer, seeking the potential in other people and instead of having myself be heard, I try to encourage and develop those who do not have enough courage to speak up.”
Tomáš Miškov’s experience at LEAF was mainly focused on business, mathematics, and sports. He has participated in LEAF News, a student-led committee that researches and informs the academy about news in the world on Monday assemblies. As a sport anchor on this team, he has worked on his public speaking as well as research skills in an area he is truly passionate about. What he believes he has learned at LEAF was that time management and planning are extremely important and crucial for a happy and sustainable life. He believes that during his time at LEAF Academy he has grown and this is what he had to say, “I have matured a lot during my stay at LEAF. I have become more self-aware and able to take critical decisions. I learned to live on my own, discovered what makes me happy as well as found many life-long friends.”
Florian Niederseer was interested in different topics some of which he used his time at LEAF to explore. As a poet, he utilized the opportunities LA offered and founded his own company, Fountain Poetry, which combines art, spoken word and performance into slam poetry evenings full of overwhelming emotions, unique stories and unforgettable experiences. Amongst his many learnings at the Academy, one learning he cherishes is “If you plan your future goals, aim high”. He believes that LEAF Academy has contributed to his growth, this is what he had to say “I would say that I was curious and interested in various topics, but the advanced understanding for many of those was missing before I came to LEAF Academy. After my two years, I see myself definitely as not just more mature and equipped with a better insight, but also ready to take greater leaps forward”.
Maria-Isabell Abrahamsson’s passion for people and community drove her engagement in the community and its activities. Bella is known for her bubbly personality and for her work with LEAF News, a committee of students who research and inform the community through a news segment every Monday, on matters relevant to the community. People and community were at the center of her LEAF experience. She won poetry slam organized by of the Student Enterprises in operation at LEAF. She is also known for her outstanding work behind the lens, she has photographed for LEAF events, school projects and produced 2 marketing videos for LEAF Academy one of which was presented at the annual LEAF Awards in 2017. Reflecting on her growth she writes “I think LEAF Allowed me to grow to a great extent, and now when leaving I have somewhat learned how to balance my life, and even when it’s not balanced, it is usually a choice, and not me being overwhelmed by the situation. Furthermore, I have become much surer of who I am and what I find important in my life.”
Lucia Jaďuďová used the opportunities offered at LEAF Academy to explore her interests and passions for current affairs and culture. She was the LEAF News Correspondent for Culture, informing the school about successes of Slovak artists and about interesting cultural events on a weekly basis. Challenging herself with doing new things, she was a member of the Design Team, a student advisory board dealing with the future design of the LEAF Academy campus in Vištuk. Furthermore, Lucia was a member of the winning team of the International Public Policy Forum, the only written and oral debate competition for high school students dealing with issues of public policy. Together with her team, she was co-writing academic debate essays for half a year on the topic of binding enforcement mechanisms for international climate accords. They advanced to the final oral round in New York as the only team from Europe and proceeded to win the competition. Reflecting on her growth at LEAF Academy she shared “I found out that no matter how much and how hard I work, I need to find time for myself, for my friends, for my family and for my passions because without them I cannot be truly happy.”
Silvia Filová’s passion for education and startups has influenced her experience at LEAF. She has explored multiple internships in her interests. She was a member of WStatement, a student enterprise focusing on using T-shirt branding. Silvia has worked with Nota bene, an all-street street magazine that gives chances to homeless people to help themselves - earn a decent income, self-esteem, and improve their lives, her role was a Social Networks Manager. Her experience also includes but not limited to being a mentor for the MIT Launch Summer Camp, and participated in the Harvard MUN Conference. When asked about how she grew during her time at LEAF and this is what she had to say “I think I become more aware of myself and my surrounding.”
Alexandra Galetová’s LEAF experience was heavily influenced by her passions and interests specifically in the arts and technical things. She shared her love for dance through being a leader of a dance club with other community members who share the same interest and love. Being a member of Model European Parliament, a conference for EU’s youth, where delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs, was one of the many ways that she challenges herself. Reflecting on her growth at LEAF Academy she shared “The most important learning during my time at LEAF Academy is the fact that I found my limits and I have become more self-aware. I realized what I want, like and need in my life even though it was not easy to accept it at moments”.
Antonín Šámal stretched his LEAF Academy experience to explore opportunities presented to him and created many of his own. He was a member of the following clubs, Expect Unexpected Club, Science and Physics Club, 21st Century Club. His has a compelling love for coding and robotics, through which he has laid a good foundation for his peer who share the interest. What he believes he has learned is that he would love to be a part of an active international community, with food and joy, he adds “I need to work hard to be among the best, unlike before. How to calculate the volume of an object described as a function rotated by y-axes. Finally getting very close to understanding Railgun”. Reflecting on his growth he said “I know I changed, but I don’t have a clue how. I guess I value more the basic and “automatic” things in life and I am more aware of my weaknesses. I grew up roughly by 0 cm and 7 kg”.
Jakub Šámal is passionate and interested in Dendrology and Recombinant Memetics. He utilized this experience to learn about what he would like to focus on. While at LEAF he worked on amateur research on ties between extremist groups and high school youth in Central Slovakia. He also worked on an election campaign of the governor of Central Slovakia. Following his experiential research-oriented homeless project, he will be working with a company that provides night shelter for homeless people. He believes LEAF has helped grow as he reflects “I have learned that if what you are doing doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Moreover, I went from an annoying smartass to somebody who still acts that way at times, but at least knows that it is something to focus and work on”
Ján Gerčák’s LEAF experience was heavily influenced by his passion for community engagement. Through his RA role and mushroom hunt club leader he challenged himself to being present and engaged in the community around him. He was a member of Model European Parliament, a conference for EU’s youth, where delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs, was one of the many ways that he challenges himself. Reflecting on his growth at LEAF Academy he shared “Before LEAF, I was very motivated to do things, but what I often lacked was self-awareness and the ability to reflect on my actions. At LEAF I became more self-aware, conscious of my decisions and improved my critical thinking, making me able to form my opinions and thoughts better. I also learned how to distance myself from tasks and personal discussions, which allow me to take things less personally.”
Jakub Kokoška used the LEAF Academy experience to pursue what he is interested in and most passionate about, most notably art and the study of game design. Before LEAF, he has competed in a wide variety of competitions ranging from geography, history and language Olympiads to math or robotics competitions and this breadth of interests was also reflected in his AP subject choices. With this kind of breadth of interests, it wasn’t easy for him to find his focus, but after enough exploration he is clearly decided on pursuing arts, more precisely games and game design. He has no doubt that LEAF has helped him grow and he shared “While at LEAF, I lessened my social anxiety, I learned that I can have impact on the world around me thanks to the EL classes and I validated my passion for art through different works I created throughout my stay at LEAF, either poems, music or games.”
Filip Rácz’s LEAF experience has been full of learnings in different aspects, academics, leadership and humanity, all these are things he values and id proud of. While at the Academy Filip created an e-shop for his company. He utilized the opportunities he was got, to significantly improve hi English language skills. He believes that some of the most important learnings he received from LEAF were gaining a solid background I academics and being a valuable team member. He reflects “The biggest growth was in empathy and self-control, as well as being much more precise about the things I do. Throughout the time I also improved in workflow”.
Lea Thome used her time at LEAF Academy to overcome her fears and to challenge herself not only academically but in any way possible. Having attended Harvard Model United Nations this year, she continued this trajectory by being a team member of Model European Parliament Slovakia. She also led the Current Affairs Club this year, where she meets weekly with fellow students to ponder the most pressing issues in the world at the moment to ensure that students stay informed and have the opportunity to voice out their opinions on important matters. Besides that, she was also part of the Community Principles Committee and she was a Residential Assistant which shaped her view of how a great community can look like and why it is so important to build such one. She believes that all those experiences were pivotal in helping her become who she is now.
She shared that failure is not necessarily a bad thing but that it is one of the steps to success. While something might not work out on the first try, if you continue to stay resilient and do not give up then you can really manage to turn something into a success.
Ema Rajčanová’s LEAF Academy experience shaped her and her values, without compromising who she is. Her role as the residential assistant allowed her to form strong bonds with her hall mates and the LEAF community at large. Her involvement in the community was always community based given her roles as an RA, CPC member. Ema was also a member of the Model European Parliament team, a conference for EU’s youth, where delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs.
“There were couple of learnings which I am taking away from LEAF Academy: I learnt how to ask for help. I learnt how important it is to stay true to yourself, to be authentic and not to change or do decisions just because somebody else is doing it. I also understood that you do not need to change the world, it is enough to try to make it a better place and to make people around you happier”.
Tala Karolina Nierodzik
Tala Karolina Nierodzik used her LEAF Academy experience to explore her passions and talents. She was the leader of the Visual Image Club. As a photographer she captured some of the events taking place at LEAF Academy, including but not limited to covering Fountain Poetry Slams, a student led enterprise that organizes poetry slams featuring artists from across Europe. What she believes she has learned at LEAF was openness, “LEAF community taught me how no to be afraid and strive to achieve what I truly seek. Both, EL and life after classes showed me that there is always a way and the fact that you want to espouse different than others direction is not a bad idea”. She believes that during his time at LEAF Academy she has grown, according to her LEAF Academy has been a space where she started to think about her dreams as thoughts and plans that are both achievable and possible.”
Clara Jan Youssef
Hailing from Egypt, Clara Jan Youssef’s experience was characterized by the importance of community. During her time at LEAF Academy, she was dedicated to seeing the world beyond her limited vision, through being open to new experiences, meeting and learning about people she gained a better knowledge of the world. Being passionate about the arts she chose the Studio Art Class where she could explore her passion and share some of it with the LEAF community. When asked what was her most important learning from her experience this is what she had to say “Reflection. Yes, you read it correctly, reflection. I realized that no matter how influential experiences you would go through, if you didn’t take the time after to evaluate how was it for you, what have you got from it and what would you make differently, you would never truly learn”.
Juraj Jursa used his LEAF experience to open himself to new opportunities and experiences. His passion for martial arts has propelled him to being claiming the 2014 Slovak Champion in Kendo, this is a traditional Japanese style of fencing that today is a modern martial art practiced throughout the world. By striving to achieve a unity of body and mind, Kendo is both a sport and an art and a way to coordinate the physical-emotional-mental dimension. For him this has been a great opportunity learn that people matter and “taming” himself as he puts it, he further reflects “I became more open and conscious of people around me, those who truly matter.”
Samuel Ján Nvota
Samuel Ján Nvota’s used his time at LEAF Academy to explore and share his passion with the community. With his passion for debate, he coached a debate team, managed to qualify to quarter finals of the second biggest debate tournament in the world called Winter Holidays Open. He further challenged himself as he was member of the winning team of the International Public Policy Forum, the only written and oral debate competition for high school students dealing with issues of public policy. Together with his team, he was co-writing academic debate essays on the topic of binding enforcement mechanisms for international climate accords. They advanced to the final oral round in New York as the only team from Europe and proceeded to secure themselves title of world champions. When asked how his experience helped him grow, this is what he had to say “Before joining LEAF Academy I was driven, curious and ambitious. However, I felt fairly lost in what I want to do. I knew, I wanted to have an impact but how and in which field? LEAF helped me to be more self-aware and realize where I want to be in the future.”
With her passion for visual arts, Viktória Kosztolányiová used every opportunity that would allow her to learn and express herself more in visual arts. She was a member of the Design Team, a student advisory board for the future design of LEAF Academy campus in Vištuk village. She worked with Kalab, a community center and gallery focused on Slovak minorities living abroad. She also seized the opportunity for social impact when she joined the WStatement project, a student-led enterprise that seeks to address current issues like corruption. She spent one year working as a lecturer in a language agency in Bratislava.
“I got more confident in what am I doing, my English has improved significantly and I became less competitive and more supportive towards others. I also learned that it’s okay to not know and ask” she shared.
Sabina Šimková utilized her LEAF Academy experience to overcome her fear of speaking in front of large audiences. Her participation in the rainbow club allowed her to share her opinions and thoughts in a group setting. The club helped her exercise one of her passions for activism, while LEAF News, a student led committee that researches and informs the academy on news events on the Monday assemblies served as platform for to explore her passion for writing. She reflects “Before LEAF Academy I was a person afraid to talk in front of larger crowds and I used to overthink my actions. Throughout the two years at LEAF Academy, I became more confident in front of others, more confident in my own words, and especially I learnt how to just let things be instead of trying to get everything under control.”