An interview with Eleni, AAS Moscow alumna, class of 2004.
AAS: Tell us a bit about yourself now and your time at AAS. Eleni Vardaki:
I was an AAS student from Grade 9 to 12. (2000-2004). Back then, I was known as 'Helen' (Fun Fact: My parents registered me as 'Helen' in schools because they felt it was easier on the international community than trying to pronounce 'Eleni'. Can you relate?) I loved how AAS encouraged us to have a balanced student life. I had a great time playing on all the sports teams at AAS, and I made great friends with whom I still keep in touch, to this day. I'm now living in Greece, working as an IB History teacher and a Youth Mentor
for Stress Relief, and I'm excited to see who reaches out to reconnect from the AAS community!
Eleni in 2004 and NowAAS: What is your favorite AAS story?Eleni:
It was when the then-Principal, Mr. Pearson, taught me my first memorable leadership lesson. I love this story because it shows the power of compassion and caring action. I was 5 minutes into my first IB Exam (World Literature, to be precise). The stress and pressure were getting to me, and I was starting to feel an intense panic attack taking over. I kept re-reading the poem again and again, but the words were swimming in my head and made no sense. Mr. Pearson was walking around the exam room at the time. He noticed my distress (it was that intense!) and asked me to follow him. I followed him as he took me for a quick walk in the corridors around the school, and I regained my senses. Before I knew it, I was back in the exam room, calm, and able to focus. I never had such an intense panic attack in an exam again, and I got the grade that I needed in order to get into the university course I'd been dreaming of (BA English and Modern History).AAS: Since leaving AAS, what accomplishments are you most proud of?Eleni:
Finding the emotional strength to be there for my two sisters when they went through a serious health crisis. This is what I'm most proud of, since leaving AAS. One of the hardest things for us empaths to do is to stay emotionally strong when a loved one is suffering so that we can be there for them. Because we can feel people's pain on a whole other level, no university degree will prepare you for these real-life challenges.AAS: What advice would you give a recent high school or college graduate?Eleni:
Strengthen your connection to your intuition. Develop your Emotional Intelligence. Learn how to tap into your body's intelligence. Investing in developing your knowledge in these areas is just as important as continuing to build your academic expertise if you want to live a meaningful life.AAS: Were there any skills you developed at AAS that proved useful in life?Eleni:
AAS created a safe environment for me to develop my relationships skills, which have served me well. For this, I have all the AAS staff to thank, all my AAS teachers, the lovely High School secretaries, the then Principal, Mr. Pearson, as well as the happy memories with friends. I want to send a special shout out to Mrs. Urquhart, our PE Teacher and Volleyball Coach (see picture below, far left), for her warm teaching style and support.
2003-2004 Volleyball TeamAAS: What do you feel were your life’s most worthwhile investments? Eleni:
Investments in health, well-being, emotional intelligence, relationships, dance, personal growth. The lot.
2003 Discovery Week TripAAS: In the last ten years, what new belief, behavior or habit improved your life the most?Eleni:
Optimism.AAS: Do you have a message you would like to share with the AAS alumni community?Eleni:
I'm curious: what's a new belief or behavior that changed YOUR life the most in the last 10 years?
AAS Graduating Class of 2004