Within Every Obstacle is an Opportunity...

 “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.

— Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage


Hello NESA Friends,

Congratulations to NESA region Graduates, and to the faculties and leadership teams finding creative ways to bring closure to this (yes, I will use the word again) unprecedented academic year.

We are inspired by the accomplishments, the resilience, the creativity and the love of community expressed during this unique moment in history. In spite of the many obstacles, our schools have elevated and celebrated the class of 2020, and so do we.

Beyond the end-of-year events, as the pandemic unfolds, across the Near East South Asia, our NESA schools continue to face a wide range of issues — health, safety, difficult economic realities — all causing disruption.

We’ve also witnessed other disruptions across the world and seen the growing polarization of society between the haves and have-nots, the privileged and the exploited.

As we re-examine and rebuild our institutions, we thresh through the chaos to save and strengthen our most valuable paradigms, and we seize the opportunity to dismantle and leave behind paradigms not serving our children well. And if we can keep our health and wellbeing, we can choose to build-in the most valuable of emergent structures, tools and ways of being.

Each school in our region is working through its own cope-and-transform process.

Below is a list of some of the touchstones emerging from NESA Live Forum conversations and conversations informing NESA programming this year:


  • Control and Compliance
  • Time and schedule structures
  • Assumptions based on external, anachronistic rationales and mindsets
  • Curriculum, pedagogy and practice: What is worth learning? How do we learn?
  • Pathways to leadership and activism
  • Resistance to change


  • Community - safe places to foster autonomy and a sense of belonging
  • Collaboration
  • Student identity, student agency
  • Compassion and Global Citizenship
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice
  • Curiosity and Inquiry
  • High Academic standards / Competency / Mastery-based learning
  • Learning that is relevant to our times
  • Social and Emotional Growth
  • Kindness, Resilience, Creativity, Hope

One of the most powerful calls for re-examination springs from recent events worldwide, voices raised and bodies mobilized against racism and inequality.

As educators, we are called to pour even more energy into the shift from awareness and understanding to activism, from not being racist to being thoughtfully, purposefully, actively anti-racist. By crafting curriculum and creating school cultures that embody the ‘strengthen/embrace’ list above, we instill these values in the citizens and leaders of the future. Collaboration, social/emotional growth, equity, kindness and compassion — in tandem with high academic standards — are more important than ever.

As tough as they are, these times also bring new opportunities.

Engage with us at the Frontier where we’ll be leading change alongside kind, inspired, creative and hopeful NESA school leaders and educators.

With best wishes,


Madeleine Hewitt
Executive Director, NESA