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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

After 30 years at WIS, Ms. Adhikari says a final goodbye

Photo taken by WIS faculty

After 30 years of working at WIS, Rita Adhikari, or as we all know her, Ms. Adhikari, is embarking on a new journey away from our community but leaving a long and loving legacy behind.

Adhikari first joined our community 30 years ago in September of 1989 when she came from India. She had no teaching experience outside of India but emphasized that WIS was a “very welcoming and inclusive community.” WIS embraced her cultural differences and helped her form a new identity for herself, she said.

Adhikari first joined as an English teacher with one history and geography class. She taught these classes until 1999, when she became the English humanities teacher, a class she has been teaching ever since.

Ms. Adhikari with students at the national gallery of art

Peter Laursen, a student of Adhikari’s from sixth to eighth grade, described her as “the best middle school teacher there was. She was nice, thoughtful, and a fantastic cook. One time she was teaching us about the western hemisphere and brought in a full meal for us to eat so we could learn about the food of the places we were studying.”

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Adhikari’s cooking connected many kids around WIS, even those who weren’t in her humanities class.

Every minimester, she would lead an Indian cooking class and teach students about the connection between cooking and history. Cooking is an important part in Adhikari’s life, one she plans on exploring further during her retirement.

“I would like to write a book about middle school and how humanities can be taught through food, music, art, sports and not just economics and war,” she said, “I want to highlight how other factors, especially food, can be so influential in our world and can guide history.”

Ms. Adhikari with the present 12th graders as advisees

However, there are many more things students remember Adhikari for than just food. She had a big impact on junior Sacha Davies. “She taught me so many skills I still use today like how to give good presentations and test-taking skills. She really helped me so much, and I can’t thank her enough for it,” Davies said.

The impact Adhikari had on her students is immeasurable, yet she believes that she herself learned more than she taught. She feels that every year she taught, she learned more and more about how students learn and feel as if her job wasn’t to teach but for the students to learn.

Adhikari’s teaching expertise led her to teach many seminars and workshops all over the world. She remembers teaching in London, Amsterdam, and Nice, as well as many cities in India. She says that she plans on traveling to many places during her post-school life. “I want to visit my daughters and grandkids in Boston and New York, and I really want to travel off season!” she said.

Adhikari gathering with WIS alumni in London

Post-school life, however, does not mean a complete cut off from WIS. Adhikari assures us that she will still be around WIS substituting classes since she “will miss the kids so much.” As for which grade Adhikari will miss teaching the most, she, like a parent when asked which child is their favorite, says that “each grade is special and brought their own challenges and rewards to the table. I will miss them all terribly.”

This connection is something that Adhikari wishes to include in her blog that she plans on writing. It will surround her experiences as a teacher and what she wishes she had done and what she did do. She wants to get across an idea she feels is pivotal to her; that the older generation can still teach the new generations, that there’s no algorithm for building communities and personal connections. She wants people to understand how important a human connection is for society.

Adhikari and one of her previous 7th grade classes

While there are many things Adhikari will be remembered for, she wants for her legacy to highlight “not … buildings or technology. I want for global citizenship and the ideals that first welcomed me here to be continued. I want for differences to be celebrated and for everyone to be accepted like I was.”

Adhikari feels as if WIS was the perfect environment for her to teach in, and when asked to summarize her experience at WIS in three words, she said, “Rewarding, fun, and wonderful.”

Similarly, when asked to describe Adhikari in three words, Marco Vallada, a current student of  Adhikari’s, said, “Empathetic, kind, and passionate.”

Even after everything she has given to WIS,  Adhikari said that she’s so thankful for everything because “the school has given me so much. I would be a different person if I wasn’t here.” She says that “if [she] could meet the person who interviewed for this job 30 years ago, [she] would tell her to go for it because it will be a wonderful journey.”

Adhikari will undoubtedly be missed by all, and can’t be thanked enough for everything she has done for the school and her students.

By: Nico Vallada

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