New International Families, New Understanding of Groton

Eighty new members of Groton’s international family attended an orientation and luncheon Friday, learning how the school takes care of students who are far from home and hearing helpful tips from those who understand the transition best—returning students.

Headmaster Temba Maqubela opened the gathering with a warm welcome for twenty-six new international students and their families, which was translated into Mandarin by Joshua Guo ’20. Also speaking (in order) were Director of Parent Programs Kim Gerighty, Assistant Head for External Affairs Megan Harlan, student leaders of Groton’s International Community Advising Program (ICAP), English teacher Vuyelwa Maqubela, parents Ali and Will Gray P ’15, ’23, and Chief Technology Officer Elizabeth Preston.
Parents learned that Groton’s faculty members, stepping into the parent role on campus, build close relationships with students. They heard about all the eyes on Groton students—including faculty advisors, senior advisors, and dorm prefects. International students are assigned an ICAP mentor as well, and can request a local host family, who offers a second home away from home.

Returning international students, including members of ICAP, shared tips for students and parents on how to adapt well to Groton. Cella Wardrop ’21, whose home is in England, encouraged new students to take advantage of opportunities “that take you out of your comfort zone, so that you are left with little regret when you get into Fifth and Sixth Form. For example, joining clubs, trying out for teams, getting to know people that you might not usually come across.

"One of the reasons I value Groton,” she said, “is that I have learnt so much about myself while being a student here, and it is hard to discover these things if you don't try something new or different.”

Gabriel Lamothe ’20 of Canada echoed encouragement to reach out. “Be brave in engaging with anyone on campus—from students to faculty,” he urged.

Claire Lee ’20, of South Korea, shared tips for battling homesickness. “There are many people you can look to for help,” she said. "The faculty become your parents on campus.” Claire described a teacher who “invited me over for a cup of tea whenever she knew I wasn’t feeling well.” She spoke too of the deep friendships developed on the Circle, and their value. “I had a great group of friends who were international students like me and exactly understood what it was like to be thousands of kilometers away from home,” she said.

And Gili Canca ’20, of South Africa, reassured parents not to worry if their child contacts them infrequently. “If you’re child begins to call you less frequently it’s usually for a good reason—they’re hard at work!” he said. “If by chance the frequency of your child’s communication has changed for a negative reason, they’re surrounded by a community that cares for their well-being and will take care of them. If it’s a serious matter. the school will always keep the parents informed.”

The program concluded with a luncheon at the Headmaster’s House, and preparations for Saturday’s official arrival of all new students.