Finding Your School

Selecting a high school can be difficult, particularly if you live abroad. There are so many choices and quite literally, “the world is your oyster.” Without being able to visit in person, how do you know which school will be the best place for you and allow you to achieve your goals? Namusende (Namu) Makatiani ’22, who is from Nairobi, Kenya, knew he wanted to attend an American university, so selecting an American high school made sense.

Namu began the high school admission process by looking at a lot of online videos. “When I watched George School’s videos, I felt the students were genuine and spoke about what they actually liked, not what they thought they should say. I could feel the strength of community and fell in love with the beautiful campus,” explained Namu. “It looked so welcoming, and I knew George School was the place for me. I arrived in fall 2019 and was very nervous. My brother, who also attends boarding school in the United States, told me it would take some time for the homesickness to go away but to persevere. My roommate was great at helping me navigate George School and some of my best memories are of learning my way around campus and hanging out with friends in Orton dormitory. I am so thrilled I will be returning to Orton as a Prefect in the fall. I feel like an alum returning to Orton and cannot wait to help the new students, just as I was helped.”

Due to COVID-19, Namu was unable to return home last spring and summer and had to stay with family in New York. “I was incredibly sad as I missed my family so much,” said Namu. “It was not until last winter that I was able to return to Kenya. My return was so emotional. I sat outside hugging my dog for an hour before I could take my bags out of the car. This summer, things will be different, and I am looking forward to volunteering in my community. I had hoped to work with a local hospital helping children as I am thinking of becoming a pediatrician, but that may be difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions. If I cannot serve in this way, I am going to raise funds to support the children. After watching the Food Network, I became fascinated with Boston Crème pies. My first attempt was terrible—the custard never set and I forgot to add the sugar, but I have been perfecting my recipe and now they are good. People enjoy the pies very much. So, I will spend the summer baking and selling pies with the proceeds supporting children.”

When asked about academics, Namu commented, “The academic program at George School is tough, but it helps develop a learning mindset and skills to manage your time which will be very helpful at college. I appreciate the range of subjects and the flexibility which allows you to create your own course of study. Since coming to George School, I have started studying Chinese which is an extremely difficult but beautiful language. It is my favorite subject. I also enjoy advanced painting and drawing as that lets me develop my creative side and I have always found making art to be relaxing. Another area I am interested in is architecture, and I was delighted to participate in an independent study project to design a bird blind in memory of Maggie Popkin ’20 during the spring semester. My architect mentor, Gary O’Connor, taught me so much about the architectural design process, starting with initial ideas, creating protypes, and developing a final concept. We discussed all the things you need to consider and compensate for when designing a building. It was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to seeing how the project develops.”

Outside the classroom, Namu is a three-season athlete, participating in soccer, swimming, and track and field (hurdles, long jump, and triple jump). Additionally, Namu has held many leadership positions including serving on Student Council, as a Peer Leader, an International Student Mentor, and as a member on the Student Activities Board. Next year, because of senior year and his Prefect responsibilities, Namu will pass many of these responsibilities onto the next group of rising student leaders. “I am excited to open a new chapter next year and find my college while continuing to give back to George School. It will be wonderful to be back on campus in a more normal way and I hope alumni will support students by attending campus events throughout the year as they are able to.”