What I Saw Was Exactly What I Got: Ruan Meintjes’s Story
Dear Homeschool Anonymous,
I wanted to take a moment and respond to your request for stories from PHC students. Thank you for your interest in the wellbeing of homeschoolers. I am encouraged that you seek to hear and understand all sides of the coin. In pursuance of your request, I briefly wanted to share my story.
I come from an immigrant family where English is not my first language. Both my parents are doctors who homeschooled my siblings and I from the 1st grade through high school. Before arriving at PHC, I had the opportunity to see much of the world. I’ve been chased by prostitutes through the streets of Hong Kong, seen people die on the side of the road in Africa, and experienced the opulence—and the horrors—of the western world. I say all this to indicate that PHC wasn’t my first brush with reality.
PHC is very different from any place I’ve encountered in my travels and experiences during high school. I found the people to be welcoming, kind, smart, and sincere. I further discovered that the faculty and administration were very clear about their mission. They were there to provide a world-class education for each student based on biblical values and a personal relationship with Christ.
What I saw was exactly what I got.
To this day (I’m a junior now) I’ve never found a taboo discussion, we were free to explore any topic with our professors or with our administrators. In the case that a controversy arose, we as students were encouraged to immediately engage the campus leaders and to confidently expect an answer within a reasonable time frame. I’ll give you an example.
A sensitive student life issue arose two years ago that affected a small group of students, including myself. I decided that I was going to be a plucky freshman and waltz into the school authority’s office to get some answers. Obviously, I’m omitting the details of the situation, but suffice it to say that I quickly got a respectful, reasonable, and professional answer. The issue was resolved. All it took to come to an amicable solution in that instance was all parties communicating clearly, quickly, and professionally.
In terms of fellow students, we get all kinds. Yes, we even have some liberals. Gasp. We have people who were homeschooled and hated it, homeschooled and loved it, people who struggle with sexuality, alcohol, depression, and the list goes on. I’ve only been at PHC for two full years now, so take my observations for what their worth. Never, in my time there, did I ever see a student marginalized because of beliefs or struggles. In fact, those with differing opinions from the majority of campus are respected, a close community of friends carries those who struggle with personal or professional difficulties, and those who thrive are celebrated.
Now, let me be clear, none of this is to say that PHC has no problems.
Whoever idolizes PHC as the problem-free school is either remarkably stupid or a big fat liar. Call it what it is. Here’s what I’ve seen. When my class hit the tarmac our freshman year, we were 90-or-so green, neubish, teenagers who wanted to get an education. I was ungracious, unkind, and made callous/painfully stupid moves more times than I care to admit. Now, as a junior, I’m still ungracious, unkind, and make more callous/painfully stupid moves than I care to admit. The only difference is that I’m two years further along the road to fixing those problems.
And the fact is that PHC’s campus is filled with people like me.
We’re growing and making mistakes as we’re maturing; all of which takes place on a very small campus. So we cause problems. I remember this one time in my dorm when there was a rather serious spat between a number of students that required Student Life’s involvement. That’s fine. It’s not a surprise to see people disagreeing. What was surprising though, was the amount of integrity with which school officials and students handled the unfortunate situation. I believe that this outstanding behavior is due in no small part to the remarkable people on campus, and their shared values. If folks are looking for the perfect campus, they aren’t going to find it in northern Virginia.
What they can expect to find, is a well-engineered playground for young people seeking maturity where mistakes can be made in the process of learning.
I’ve had a good time at PHC; the place leaves a good taste in my mouth. I’ve seen its ups and downs and experienced some of my life’s most extreme challenges there. I thank God for the school, and I will remain forever thankful for the people who do their best to run it. That’s my two cents worth. Hope it helps!