September 22, 2022

The year of everything

Kestral Gaian

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“Maybe you just get bored easily”

I remember my mum saying those words to me when, aged 25, I decided to veer off the track of an already established career in technology and study psychotherapy. Neither word ‘polymath’ nor ‘interdisciplinary’ featured much in my upbringing, and the idea that someone could want to be more than one thing didn’t ever occur to my job-for-life parents.

I, however, wanted to do it all – and from corporate software development to tech startup, and from psychotherapist to writer, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to vary my career greatly over the past two-and-a-bit decades.

So when, just over a year ago, I heard about a magical place that was looking for polymaths to build an interdisciplinary vision of education, you can imagine I was a tiny bit excited!

Joining the team at LIS was as exciting as it was nerve-wracking. Through all the various different roles I’d had before, this was something truly new and unique and I really didn’t know what to expect. Within three minutes of walking through the door I felt the nervousness drop away. Here was a team of people who were friendly, passionate, funny, and – above all – seemed to love sushi as much as I do.

As I reflect on my first year as the London Interdisciplinary School’s first Head of Digital, I’m proud both of how much I’ve packed into it, and how committed we’ve all been to explore and experiment with new technologies to create incredible experiences for our learners.

I’ve worked with every team and almost every member of staff at LIS on at least one project, and have run masterclass workshops for our founding cohort on everything from data privacy to audio editing. The digital team has grown from just one person to three – and we’ve got big plans for the future to keep building new and innovative education services for years to come!

It’s hard to pick specific moments from the past year that stand out as it’s been an incredibly positive experience overall, but both the start and end of our first academic year are definitely worth special note.

We kicked off the 2021 academic year with a ‘Founders Week’ which culminated in a dinner (or feast) for all staff and students. During that meal many of our students spontaneously shared their hopes and dreams for their time at LIS, and it really felt like we were about to go on a journey together, all of us learning from each other.

It’s a sentiment that came to life!

The year ended with a set of presentations from our students. Having worked in and around tech startups I’m no stranger to a product pitch – but what our students came up with was just next level legendary. Seeing how far they’d come, how much they’d learned and grown this year, gave me an enormous feeling of pride. Truly, we are building the leaders of the future.

As we head into our second academic year, and my second year as Head of Digital, I’ve got that same feeling of excitement. This time, though, It’s excitement at everything that our new students are about to experience – and all the growth that both our new and existing cohorts are about to see.

Here’s to the next twelve months!

By Kestral Gaian, She/They

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March 20th 2023

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