Interview with 10th Grade Boarding Student, Douglas Boateng

Douglas Whittle

 

Q: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

A: I'm Douglas Boateng and I'm from Ghana. I'm a 10th grader and for my background, I came from St. Martin de Porres school in Ghana. I participated in sports, clubs, and I love the sports over there. So, I really took my sports seriously. 

Q: How are you finding sports here at Whittle? You are on the swim team, correct?

A: Yeah, swimming has been honestly great although it has been a little challenging compared to the sports we did in Ghana. I really enjoy the fact that it wasn't just three particular sports that Whittle made us select or pick from. They offered a wide variety of sports. 

Whittle Swim Team
Douglas swimming backstroke at a recent swim meet at UDC.  

Q: What inspired you to apply to and attend Whittle? What made the school standout for you?

A: I think first of all is the location. The location really stood out because it wasn't isolated -- it wasn't like a bunker in the middle of nowhere. It was outside, open to sunlight, and also offered something new and different from traditional education. Traditional education was just memorizing to get it done with. Even in Ghana, we just learn something, and you get it done with. Once you were done with your tests they didn't really matter anymore. But I saw that later on, it did really matter, and Whittle offered to teach me in a special way so that I could make those connections to the various things that I would need. 

Q: Which languages do you speak and what are you studying here at Whittle?

A: Currently I speak French, Fante, Twi, and English. Currently, I'm studying Spanish at Whittle. Spanish is hard for me because it is my fifth language. But I find it a bit similar to French. Whittle teaches it in such a way that I'm speaking it in every single class I go to and I'm not just memorizing the grammar and how I should compose my sentences. 

Q: What is it like being a boarding student in Washington, DC?

A: Being a boarding student in Washington, DC is amazing! It is one of the coolest things I've done because I get to go out and explore the city. It exposes you to somewhere new, something new - a new city. Getting out and exploring, I can genuinely consider myself now as a part of the city because I know various areas and locations. Even on weekends, we get to pick programs that we want to do as boarding students. Sometimes we go ice skating, sometimes we go to a trampoline park. And I think that it is an amazing experience - I've gotten to experience things which I never experienced before. 

Boarding Students National Mall
Boarding students spending their weekend exploring the National Mall.
Douglas ice skating in the National Sculpture Garden.
Douglas ice skating in the National Sculpture Garden.

Q: What has been your favorite moment inside the classroom at Whittle?

A: My favorite moment in the classroom was when we did our lab experiments on lactose. We designed our own lab experiments before our teachers showed us the actual way to do it. And so, in all honesty, you could say you thought of a possible way to test your solution before you were actually given the way to test your solution. You didn't just memorize, you literally had to apply what you knew from various other aspects of science. The lactose lab wasn't just about biology, we also used chemistry and gas laws. It was crazy for me because I'm used to just having to write a paper on this. 
 

Collaborating with classmates inside the classroom.
Collaborating with classmates inside the classroom.

Q: What has been your favorite X-Day experience at Whittle?

A: My favorite X-Day experience was when we went to Children's National Hospital. Children's National Hospital just blew my mind with some of the things they showed us. For me, a hospital is where you went to get your medication and that was it. But they really explained to me how not everyone is there just to get their medication and that hospitals really try to cater to someone’s needs; they try to make people feel like it is a happy place. It truly made me realize that in everything you do, one of the key parts is happiness. If you are not happy, you should try to find a way to be happy with what you are doing.

Douglas and classmates on a recent X-Day to a local art gallery.
Douglas and classmates on a recent X-Day to a local art gallery.

Q: How have you grown personally since you've been at Whittle? What have you learned about yourself?

A: The thing I've learned about myself is that my love of sports will always be there, but I also do love other stuff such as having a good argumentative spirit in the humanities. It is nice to “stir the pot” for me because it brings variety and diversity to our school. There are a lot of other people who do that. There are a lot of pot-stirrers who help other people to see things from different points of perspective. It is amazing how you don't consider someone else's perspective if you are so ideological, and Whittle has made me see that. So, I consider everything from both sides now.

Q: As a boarder, how do you spend your time on the weekends?

A: We go out, but one thing I love that we always do is Saturday night dinner. You get to try different cuisines. I think this weekend we are about to try Ethiopian again. The first time we had it we were all like, "this is great, this is awesome!” Last weekend we had South Korean food and it was great. I had a seafood bowl and it was honestly one of the best dishes of my life. We travel around to different restaurants and sometimes we order in. Even when we are ordering in, we make sure that there is diversity in the food that we eat.

Q: How do you think your time at Whittle will impact you in the future?

A: I think that the main thing I've taken away from Whittle so far is that just because you grow up and have a job, that does not necessarily mean that you have to give up your creativity, who you are, and just blindly follow rules. Whittle has truly shown me that everyone has their passions and no matter what happens, you should be able to follow through with your passions, even when you are older. It shouldn't just be about blindly following a routine. Even if you are following a routine, your routine should offer you happiness and it should also teach you something.

Q: Has it been easy to make friends? What does the Whittle community look like for you?

A: Friendships are great honestly because I made close friends in a couple of months and that is pretty fast. All of the boys in the boy's dorm are great. We also often interact with the girls by going to the game room, playing games together. Everything about the community and the boarding community -- it is just great, honest people.

Douglas and friends posing for a photo on the first day of school.
Douglas and friends posing for a photo on the first day of school.

Q: Is there anything else about Whittle that you think people should know? Anything else you'd like to talk about?

A: I love our projects. The way we do our projects is so systematic but at the same time, you find joy and happiness. It's not just exercises, exercises, then tests. Everything you do adds up and the progression is amazing because you get to carry it through from one subject to another. I'm honestly blown away by the amount of hard work it takes teachers to find something that is interesting and teaches us something. It is amazing, the experience in general.
 

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