I write this email for all those future students to come. I wish someone had told me beforehand how crazy intense it would be, so I could have made the choice earlier to maybe not go to AMFI. I do hope that this changes, AMFI is getting a second chance, to make sure that everyone gets and equal chance to grow and learn instead of being on a rat race during 4 years, in which you constantly have to plan every move, scared of any failure and never completely proud or satisfied with anything you do.
My stomach hurts when I think back at my student years or when I cycle past the building. When I think of the teachers, the pressure and even looking back at how scared I was all the time at school in class waiting for that horrible comment I might get infant of all other classmates, it was always so embarrassing for me. I don't think AMFI wants anyone to think back at their student-time as something so horrible.
I literally do not know anyone who did not have a mental breakdown at some point during their studies, it was always due to the pressure, the toxic environment, the extreme fear for the teachers, and the extreme work load. I talk to some of my classmates now about how crazy these times were. There were days that we forgot to eat, to go to the toilet, and before deadlines we would all work together to keep each other awake, taking shifts for sleeping 30 min/ 1 hour and then waking up to continue. And we thought we has no other choice, as we were told 'this is what it's like in the Fashion Industry'.
We have been belittled by teachers from the first day we started. The first weeks in class they literally told us to look around us and realise that only a few of us would make it to graduation. What type of negative motivational method is that? They create a competitive and negative environment for everyone. And I am so grateful that at least my class did the contrary we supported each other through every project, we applauded each others work and we comforted each other when we needed to cry. But I know that for others it was not like this.
And even though we supported each other, I know many were very scared of presenting their work in public. I would try to avoid going to some classes because I was so to scared to be made fun of, or to be criticised in front of others, my stomach. Would hurt so much I would just not dare to go to school, and would call in sick. ( I deserved to be in that class, to learn.)
What has happened so many times, is that students finally feel like they are doing well in a project, they are getting some better feedback in class, they feel like they are developing, and then when the assessment arrives and you give present the work you have been working for day and night for weeks, and that is when you get 'tested'. It seems like they try to break you so far, that some sort of different creativity comes to the surface when your in a 'dark' mode.
"I remember being interrupted during a presentation right at the start, I had spoken a few sentences and then a teacher started laughing and commenting on my nails, how I even had time to do my nails, it probably meant I did not work hard enough... They also commented on my work so negatively, with absolutely no constructive feedback, that when you leave that room you feel totally lost, and have no clue what to do next. I knew I was gonna start crying but pushed it away so hard, that as soon as the teachers left the room I collapsed into hyperventilating and panicking. When continually going through rough experiences like this you start developing a fear to fail, a fear to speak in public, and you become very insecure about your qualities."
"I remember being told that I was not gonna make in the fashion Industry, I did not ' have it in me'. That I could rather stop now then waste my 'parent's money'. How is someone else aloud to make this choice for you? This was a teacher that I had barely spoken to and that in my second year of my studies, literally said that they did not believe in me or my qualities, and that it would be a waste of my money and time to continue in this school." It should not be one teachers choice on what a students future career looks like, I decided to try to continue, but what if I had stopped? This teacher would have made a decision about me, about my future, which they have no right to.. Even though I can calmly analyse this occurrence now. I do feel like a little voice somewhere still tells me, maybe I am not good enough for the fashion industry, and maybe the AMFI teachers were right.'
I also wonder why none of the teachers ever spoke up, they saw emotional abusive situations happening right in front of them on a daily basis, and instead of speaking out and attending their co-workers on it, they supported it by not saying anything.
I am happy I managed to graduate and the relationships I built with my friends because of AMFI, but every time we get together it seems like we cannot stop talking about the disbelief of everything we went though and excepted. There is such a fear environment that no one dares to speak up, because teachers have the power to fail you, even if you do not deserve it. You do not want to have a bad relationship with any of them, so you keep your mouth shut.
AMFI is an EDUCATIONAL institution, you pay to get an education. Anyone should be able to receive this education, to LEARN. AMFI is not responsible of emotionally educating or 'preparing' students for the fashion world. That is NOT the responsibility of teachers. ' We are just making sure you can handle the Fashion industry'. That is not the role of a teacher.' I wish this changes, that students are supported throughout the most insecure and growing years of their lives, and learn to develop their true self in positivity and support.'
And even though we learnt many many things, the emotional baggage that came with it was VERY unnecessary. All those students who had to stop due to a burnout, due to physical and mental illness, because they felt they 'couldn't do it anymore', felt like they did not fit in, felt lonely, felt insecure. They did NOT deserve this, we all deserved a equal chance of being prepared for the fashion industry.
Due to my experience at AMFI, I have gone through depression. I have experienced situations that have lead to very low self-esteem awareness, fear to fail, social anxiety and I very negative view on the fashion industry.