"It was cool": IMSA visitors come away impressed with Uni
Published: Sunday, March 1, 2009 - 10:12pm
Gargoyle reporter Lor Sligar interviews Iris Liu, Harika Nalluri, Jennifer Hu, Alvin Ko, and Ankita Khandai about their reactions to Uni.
Click to listen (3:32)
URBANA — Shortly after lunch began on Feb. 12, juniors Iris Liu and Harika Nalluri stood in the first-floor hallway and began talking about their morning classes at Uni.
Nothing unusual about that, except Iris and Harika are students at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, and they were part of an IMSA exchange group of 13 students and two teachers that had come to Uni the day before.
So what did they think of the school's classes?
Iris: "They were really exciting. We just had U.S. history, and it was pretty cool how they, like …"
Harika interrupts: "Yeah, I liked the way they were taught. And I learned a lot of new stuff about math today, actually, in calculus."
Iris: "I learned integrals."
Harika: "I did not know that. And a lot of physics. It was cool."
Iris: "The physics teacher [Jim 'Ray' Carrubba] is really cool, too."
Last spring, Uni took part in a student council exchange with St. Thomas More in Champaign. The program went so well that student leaders and faculty sponsor Rick Murphy decided to do another exchange program, only this time they made it more ambitious.
Lor Sligar interviews IMSA junior Ankita Khandai. Gargoyle photo by David Porreca (click to enlarge)
Enter IMSA, a three-year, state-supported residential school that attracts students from throughout Illinois.
The visitors arrived in the afternoon on Feb. 11 and met with members of Uni's student council to talk about their respective student governments and tour the school.
"We watched these Chinese acrobats, and it was really, really cool," Nalluri says. "There were like 14 people on a bike. It was so crazy. They were all jumping all over each other."
The students returned Thursday morning to shadow Uni hosts to their classes.
"Throughout the day I was just kind of comparing like, 'Oh, we have this thing that’s similar to that back at IMSA and stuff,'" says junior Jennifer Hu, who along with sophomore Alvin Ko joins in with Nullari and Liu to talk about Uni.
"I visited Accelerated Calculus 2," she continues. "It corresponds to a course at our school, Multivariable Calculus. It was really interesting. I didn't really get a lot of it, 'cause I'm not there yet."
More generally, the IMSA visitors came away impressed by Uni's atmosphere and the relationships among the students and faculty.
"I liked the environment, actually," says Nalluri. "It was really lax, comfortable."
"They seemed really tight with each other," adds Hu.
"There's a lot of history in your building," Liu observes. "Ours is only like 20 years old."
The visit went well in the eyes of the Uni hosts.
"It was fun to meet people from other schools, especially one that's similar to ours — the fact that it has selective admissions and people who actually want to go to school," says executive president Isaac Chambers.
"They seemed to like Uni pretty well, I think. The structure of their school is very, very different — the fact that they have a resident school. But in terms of the actual students, they seem to be pretty similar."
After talking to the visitors, Uni student leaders found out that IMSA's school government differs from their own in several interesting ways.
"I thought it was neat how they have, like, a cabinet," Chambers says. "And they have committees on different issues, and I think it's probably more applicable to them since they have residential life and stuff like that. They definitely have a very complex student government compared to Uni, much more complex."
When asked how Uni and IMSA students compare, Chambers notes: "It's hard to take stereotypes of Uni students and then take stereotypes of IMSA students, because you know you're going have a variety. But I think there are certainly people who they brought who are similar to Uni students that I know."
The schools are currently working out a time for Uni student council members to return a visit. The exchange will probably take place in April.
Chambers for one is looking forward to the trip: "I think it'll be interesting to see how their school runs and what their block scheduling is like."
For the visitors, it was time to return to IMSA, their temporary home for three years.
"We live all over Illinois," says Ko.
Adds Nullari: "There are people from down south and from north."
Hu: "Like Carbondale. Kids from the Quad Cities, from Chicago itself."
Nullari: "I mean, I'm from Naperville, so it's about 25 minutes away. [We're from] all over the place, but then we live there."
Hu: "There's opportunities for the kids who live farther away to go back every six weeks, because they have an extended weekend."
Ko (with gusto): "Which is this weekend!"
Hu: "So they don't get homesick."
Nullari: "And you're, like, forced to go home."
Hu: "It's not like a prison or anything. We get to leave."