Asha is the Lecture Director for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at the 92nd Street Y, and a Childbirth and Parenting Educator. In addition to being a C&C graduate, Asha is also now a parent at City and Country.
What have you done since graduation?
I went on to Elisabeth Irwin High School and then received a BA in Politics and English from Mount Holyoke College. After working in publishing for about a decade, I had my first child and morphed into different careers. I currently direct part of the lecture program at the 92nd Street Y in NYC. I'm also, in a completely different vein, a child-birth and parenting educator and the president of the Board of Directors of the Childbirth Education Association of Metro New York.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? A problem solver? A good citizen?
I consider myself all of the above, and I think the level of independence that was expected of me from an early age at C&C was fundamental in the development of those qualities. Being innovative and being a good citizen were priorities and an expectation. "Every man for himself" was certainly not the school's motto.
How did City and Country help define your notion of a job?
The Jobs Program at C&C imbued in me an early sense of pride, awareness, and control—a sense of empowerment that came with having real responsibility when so much about the life of a child is powerless. I still remember taking such satisfaction in writing a receipt in the Store, running the printing press, creating a book for my 4, or publishing an article in the Newspaper. These were real acts, with tangible results, and doing them well was imperative. People were counting on me. There were deadlines to be met!
I still expect to feel the same level of pride and excitement about work that I do now. Knowing that I have an effect on others, coming up with creative solutions, thinking in novel or untypical ways, feeding many different aspects of my passions and talents, feeling at the end of each day that I've done more than move papers from one side of the desk to the other are all key elements of "work" to me. My discomfort in a corporate environment, for example, is probably not a result of having gone to C&C, but I'm sure having gone to C&C has had a lot to do with my ability to identify and honor that discomfort.
Have there been any interesting moments (big or small) in your adult life when you felt your time at City and Country affected a decision you made?
So many, mostly having to do with my children, how I raise them and how our home environment complements their education. Certainly when deciding where to send my own children for school.
What is your strongest memory of a learning experience at City and Country?
It's hard to narrow down, but two in particular spring to mind. One is the country trip in the 9s. It was such an exceptional experience in so many ways. We left just after an enormous, record-breaking blizzard in New York and the farm we went to looked magical. We cooked rabbit stew, learned to snowshoe, learned to make yarn out of shorn wool, slopped pigs and snuck out of our rooms in the middle of the night to visit the cat and newly born kitten in the barn. These were paradigm-changing experiences for a bunch of City kids.
The other is not a specific memory but collection of memories of Ronnie, the art studio teacher during my time at City and Country. I credit her with helping me access the artist within me that I tried as hard as possible to flatly deny. She simply wouldn't hear my claims that I had no artistic talent whatsoever, that I couldn't draw anything more complex than a heart with an arrow through it or a little house with a wisp of smoke coming through the chimney. I'm still not sure how she did it, but she managed to lessen my art-anxiety and even foment a love of art and creating art that I still have to do this day. She convinced me that the love of art was far more important than the size of my talent.