Alumni Boost Community at Reunion
“Even when I meet a fellow alumni who was from a different class, that shared experience always gives us a deep connection.” says Scott (‘79), as he thinks about the recent ASH Alumni reunion he attended in Alexandria, VA. Scott, alongside 72 former ASH students, had the chance to reconnect with each other over a four day reunion from Sept 16 - Sept 19. The alumni spanned the classes of ‘75 to ‘88: some were graduates, some attended in their high school years and some in both middle and high school years, some for one year and some for a few - but they all had one thing in common: their memories at ASH that connected them together.
 
The walk down memory lane kicked off on Sept 16, when the alumni began arriving at the historic Westin hotel in downtown Alexandria. They were welcomed by the reunion committee, fellow alumni Peter, Libby, Gretchen and Scott, all from the Class of 1981, who had worked hard in the months prior to pull together a reunion that was meaningful for everyone in attendance. The weekend included some scheduled touch points for the alumni to connect as a group: a water taxi ride and tour, a drinks and appetizer reception and a final gala dinner wrapping up the weekend on the Saturday evening. This left the alumni plenty of opportunities for them to get together on their own and connect with friends and peers from years past - some seeing each other for the first time since their days at ASH, some reuniting with each other as old friends. As Peter (‘81) reflects: “... the ASH alumni community is a tight one. The bottom line is most people viewed the ASH experience as truly unique and of high quality - something they want to keep alive.”
 
The weekend was full of nostalgia and fun. Bonnie (‘84) shared “What a joy it was to see old friends and make some new ones!” with Kristen (‘79) saying “I'm still on cloud 9 from the reunion. With each one of these I go to, I connect with someone I haven't seen since graduating.” At the drinks reception, alumni could collect their complimentary giveaway bag of “ASH Swag” - lanyards, Tshirts, tote bags and towels - that they could wear and use proudly. Peter (‘81) took to the mic during the reception, on behalf of the reunion committee, to thank everyone for attending and acknowledge all the contributions involved to make the reunion a success.
 
The gala dinner on Saturday evening was a high point, bringing the entire group together to celebrate their ASH experience. The alumni had fun taking their photos in a green screen booth, with a selection of typical The Hague landmarks and stand out locations to use as a backdrop. Those special, unforgettable moments of connection between the group were captured by a professional photographer, who also took group photos of all the class years. Memories of their favorite ASH moments came to life in a curated slideshow of yearbook selections from 1975-1988 that was played throughout the evening in the background.
 
Everyone connected with different things in their ASH experience, which is evident when reading their reflections. From favorite teachers or friends, the unique campus buildings, trips, sports and clubs, everyone had a stand out reflection on what meant the most to them in their unique ASH experience.
 
Cathy (‘77): “The students were just like me (third culture kids, though I didn't know that term then), and education quality was really high. The teachers cared and got to know us.
 
Scott (‘81): “Everyone was very accepting and made me feel at home from day 1.
 
Kim (‘80): “The diversity and opportunities to experience cultures first hand‚ the opportunity to walk out your door each day and gain an education. “Don't ever take it for granted! said Herb Stude, my History teacher in the 8th grade, 1976. I'll never forget those wise words‚ and I've passed them on to my children throughout our duty stations.
 
Jolize (‘77): “The school was small enough for us all to get to know each other. At a time when many of us were moved every few years, this was a window of stability, friendship, and acceptance. We understood each other and accepted each other as we were.
 
Jodi (‘83): “Diversity of people and adventurous nature of each. Independence and all of the wonderful things we did just by jumping on a bike. I always laugh and know that no one would understand - here in sports the kids play the next town; there we traveled to countries, and stayed the weekend - the adventures...!”
 
Bill (‘79): “Passing calculators in the back of physics, souped-up broomfitzen, rugby, Scheveningen beach, running in the dunes, the smoking shed and Anita Stenz's English class.”
 
Nancy (‘79): “The people and the social life of the school. I loved how friendly and welcoming everyone was. The fun with friends dancing at The Hole, traveling with athletics to different cities and staying with the opposing teams families and the ski trip to Switzerland!”
 
Kris (‘79): "The people!! There was a sense of community where new people were welcomed and accepted almost immediately."
 
Betin (‘81): "The opportunity to experience so many different cultures and have a great education."
 
John (‘77): "I liked the kaleidoscope-like changing student body: so many stories and cultures to share."
 
Matt (‘83): "The people - making so many life long friends all over the world."
 
What stands out reading all of their reflections, is the theme of friendship and unique opportunity that is threaded throughout. But Peter (‘81) shared a statement that captures it all perfectly “the American School of The Hague means a LOT to most who attended - even if it was just for a year - and reunions are the perfect way to reminisce, reconnect, and celebrate a special chapter in our lives.” Friendships that last a lifetime, memories that never fade, and a special bond that lives in all of our ASH Alumni, all across the globe. That is, in some ways, the essence of the ASH Experience.
 
#ASHexperience #StrongerTogether
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