A Tale of Two Transitions | Aga Khan Academies

A Tale of Two Transitions

22 September 2022

Samiksha Shukla, DP2 student at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad, shares her story of transitioning from the Academy in Maputo to the one in Hyderabad.

Change can be difficult. A phrase I often came across but never truly grasped: "It’s like the sudden big wave hidden amongst the subtle rhythm of the ocean water that washes away all the shells by the shore." I felt something similar when a big wave of change washed away my entire lifestyle.

I was raised in the small town of Matola in the south-eastern African country Mozambique, bordering the beautiful mountains formerly known as Swaziland and present Eswatini. At the young age of six, I left my homeland. Even though I spent a principal amount of my life on another continent, I never genuinely detached from my roots, traditions and culture, which were deeply ingrained in me. I remember every detail of my childhood, from hiding my identity as an Indian to embracing it with pride; it’s tough to grow up with people who are different from you, and the constant urge of wanting to fit in begins to engulf your every thought.

I recall vividly every moment at the Aga Khan Academy Maputo, my first steps as a newcomer into this small building on the edge of a 54-acre land that has now evolved into a spellbinding infrastructure. It is there that I learned to be proud of my identity and be able to respect others of a different one. During my time at the Academy in Maputo, I discovered the importance of sharing and what it means to be part of a community.

I spent my weekends travelling to nearby public educational institutes to educate adolescents on the effects of drug and alcohol consumption, along with familiarising them with new changes and developments occurring in their bodies. The club was open to discussing issues that students may struggle with but find it challenging to discuss with adults. This idea was inspired through a student initiative curated by my peers and me at the Academy called ‘Teen Talks’. The purpose of this club was to support struggling adolescents through group communication and therapy. A professional psychologist was present during our session at all times. The success of this club enabled it to become an annual club option for enrichment programmes. 


The Academy is a strong proponent of sharing wisdom and knowledge and opening the doors of opportunity for others. In light of this, the class of 2023 at the Aga Khan Academy Maputo held a student-led Earth Day Conference in 2019 for the students of three public schools to raise awareness about various environmental issues. The conference was sponsored by Vodacom which supplied personalised giveaway items and highlighted our guest speaker and environmentalist Carlos Serra. 


Through the Aga Khan Curricular strands and IB learner profile attributes, students at the Academy deeply grasped the significance of preserving our planet and demonstrated their concern along with understanding through the first ever eco-friendly fashion show at the academy organised and run by the class of 2023, that displayed clothing made out of recyclable items. As a student at the Academy, I was provided with a magnitude of opportunities to participate and learn beyond the four walls of the classroom. I was motivated and took a great interest in learning about more than just the Pythagoras theorem or photosynthesis; I was taught to apply my classroom knowledge to the real world.


In addition to participating in numerous educational events at the academy, I took a great interest in leadership roles and was elected as the first house captain of the Purple House. The Academy, its community as well as its environment were the dominant supporting aspects that built my character and persona, which was only further developed and nourished when I transitioned to the Academy in Hyderabad.

The transition from the Academy in Maputo to the one in Hyderabad was one of the most difficult changes I’ve experienced. It was like moving out of my home where I spent the last eight and a half years of my life, where I knew everyone, and everyone knew me, where I sensed that I belonged. I felt unprepared for what was to come ahead, but my first interaction with the admissions team was all it took to make me feel welcomed back, as though I was returning to my own home. I blended in yet stood out; that is the beauty of a school where individuality is valued and encouraged; the nurturing attention of my new teachers and benevolent help from my new peers made every uncertain thought and drop of anxiety into my tenacity to learn. And unquestionably, I was mesmerised by the distinctive nature of the campus; every building is like a country with new possibilities, carrying histories of its own and possessing the freedom to explore, discover and learn.


My earliest memories at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad comprise a handful of Zoom meetings and friendly faces, in addition to interactions with my buddies who guided me and ensured that I settled during the peak time of the school year. 


Once we started offline classes, however, I was instantly involved in numerous events apart from my academics, such as participating as a researcher in the Aga Khan Academies Climate Conference, presenter at the annual Peace summit and crew member at the official Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad TEDxYouth event. In addition, I was Vice-president of the French certification enrichment in MYP5 and the President of the Modern Literature and Translation enrichment club in DP1. I thrive to be more engaged and involved through my internship at the Admissions and Communications department as well as my volunteer role at the Orientation Weekend. 


Through my engagement in school events, my greatest learning has been that teamwork and collaboration are vital and integral parts of our professional and personal lives. They enable us to understand, listen and communicate more effectively. There is no greater joy in sharing; whether it be a responsibility or knowledge.


The Academy's infrastructure is beyond that of a regular school campus; it’s a walk into utopia, where every tree narrates a tale, and every breeze carries the soothing warmth of wisdom. I finally realised that I never left home; it was merely a step into another one.

- Samiksha Shukla