I was recently going through some old paperwork and discovered a five-page memo I received in 1965 from the English-Speaking Union, prior to my entrance to Stowe for a postgraduate year before university. It makes for a very entertaining read so please click here to read it in full.
Looking back, much of it rings true. I was 18 at the time and grateful to have an extra year at a school such as Stowe before university. It was a bit intimidating at first – all boys, the discipline system and a somewhat Spartan existence. Being an American at the outset of the Vietnam War brought extra scrutiny. I cannot recall the name of our Matron, but she was comforting with an offer of tea or Ovaltine after study hours most evenings.
Within a month or two I was made a Monitor (age helped), which provided a few perks such as a single study and milk and bread delivered to my door daily. Periodic visits with other school leaders to the Headmaster’s (R. Drayson) Office gave one a sense of self-respect and responsibility.
The classroom experience was challenging yet not overwhelming and Stowe’s extra-curricular offerings were a life-saver as I played House rugby, basketball, tennis and dabbled in bridge club. Having been Captain and the number one player on my high school tennis team, I was able to earn a starting role on Stowe’s team and represent the School in the Yule Cup at Wimbledon.
In retrospect, Stowe was transformative in my life, teaching independence and building self-confidence while gaining a glimpse of the world outside of the United States. Four years later after university, I was accepted to The London School of Economics where I received a MSc in International Relations. That “special relationship” has never ceased to waver.