The Girls!

Allegra O’Brien

The DiplomatBelvedere, CAPhotos & Story by Lauri LevenfeldStyling by Katja O’Brien
Makeup & Hair by Veronica Fensel

For Allegra O’Brien, traveling with her family throughout her childhood gave her the unique opportunity and insight into many different cultures, people, and ways of the world. This understanding has shaped the person she is today and has cultivated a deep compassion and desire to connect with others. Rather than be tied to the typical teenage occupations, Allegra works hard to

navigate a path built of authenticity, discovery, and passion. O’Brien is the first to admit she hasn’t necessarily found her ultimate live-or-die “thing”, but meanwhile, she’s putting her energy into staying open and participating in all that she loves. We have to admit, even if her journey is still unfolding, what Allegra has gained thus far is proving to be quite enlightened and special.  

1.Who are you? What were you like as a child?

As a kid I was very creative, outgoing and social. I loved art, sports and reading. Swimming was one of my favorite things to do because we lived in tropical Singapore and it was the best way to cool off and make friends where we lived. I always pretended to be a mermaid or an ice skater underwater and I would do flips and zoom around through the water imagining people in their pool chairs were the audience.

I loved exploring and I remember there was a fitness center where kids were not allowed unaccompanied. I would sneak up the stairs to see what all the adults were doing.  

I remember loving to play in the ocean and on the beach. I fell in love with elephants when we rode them in Bali and they kept them in humongous stalls. We also surfed and explored Thailand and Malaysia.

I had just moved school and I remember I couldn’t express my ideas really well in 2nd grade so during English I got to go to a special class where I learned how to spell and write really well.  These skills still help me today. I also fell in love with Science because they had the most magical science room with vines hanging from the ceiling, colorful fake flowers, parakeets lived in the room and the would fly around, there were tons of aquariums with fish and turtles and the teacher was like Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus.  


2. What are you most passionate about?

To be honest I don’t think I have found my true passion. I love to do a lot of different things like sailing, baking, learning new languages, science experiments, lacrosse, working with kids, working with older people and traveling. I feel like I am pretty well rounded and I like to try and do different things than focusing in on one specific passion. Instead of a narrow focus I like to keep my mind open. I like to think the more things you try the more you will be able to connect with people on different levels. I am still a work in progress.  


3. Travel & living abroad is a huge part of your family life, tell us about your journey.

My parents were living in Geneva, Switzerland, and flew to San Francisco to deliver me. At six weeks old I took my first 22 hour flight and moved to Singapore. We lived there for 2 years and then moved to Tokyo, Japan for a year. We moved back to California for 4 years and then we moved back to Singapore for 2 years (which I actually remember because I went to school at the Singapore American School from 2-3 grade). We then moved to Zug, Switzerland and I went to the Zurich International School for 4th grade. We moved back to California at the tail end of 4th grade. 

Traveling has impacted my life because it has given me a better perspective and insight on what really matters. I am a more compassionate person and really appreciative of the opportunities

and experiences I have had. I always feel different than girls in my community and school because I have such an insight on the world and know what’s happening. Most kids ask me “ Where is Asia?” Or “ In Switzerland do you speak Swedish?”. Sometimes I get frustrated, it bothers me that kids would rather slack off and do nothing instead of learning and experiencing the world we live in. But I have also learned not everyone’s parents can or will take them places or are interested like my family in history and culture. A lot of kids my age can do whatever they want. So I always try to be compassionate to kids who don’t know or have much insight compared to me even if they are the mean girls.

Most kids who live in my community live in a protected bubble. The hottest clothes and popularity matters – but because I have visited and lived in many places I understand that in the big picture of life those things are really trivial and don’t really matter. Once when I was in 3rd grade we were vacationing in Bali and in a car driving back from a restaurant to our hotel when we stopped at a stoplight.  It was late at night and dark. When I looked outside there were kids younger than me in the middle of a really busy road begging.  I felt so sad, worried and scared. I will never forget this and always remember as a girl in this world how lucky I am to go to school and become educated so maybe one day I can advocate for kids without a voice.

My father currently lives abroad. Most times I tell people this and their response is “ Are your parents divorced? “. “ No ” I always say. Sometimes it can be hard without my dad around, I want him to be here in California more often. But I understand that he needs to leave and travel for his work. An example of me missing my dad or wishing him to be here very much was in 6th grade during the Father Daughter Dance. All my friends had their dads on the dance floor dancing and laughing and I sat on the side and watched them. On the flip side, when I do get to see my dad it’s always very fun and exciting. We meet up in London, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Thailand, Indonesia and sometimes here in California and we always try to make it special! This makes my family dynamic a bit hectic. My mom, brother and I ( and our new pet Bali! ) are racing around, working hard, doing our best and trying to get all of our projects done.


4. Who are your heroes in life?

My mom is my hero. She she is kind, sweet and understanding. She treats others kindly and she is an amazing person. She puts me and my brother first and I know she always has my back and my best interests in mind. She knows when to push me and when to ease off. She is wise, an adventurer, follows her passions and surrounds herself with loyal and great friends. I really respect and love her and she has taught me so much. When I have a great day she is by my side and when I have a rough day she is by my side. She is my rock.  

5. Your energy is infectious! Tell us about all the volunteer activities you put your time and efforts into.

Last year 7th grade lunch was one of the best parts of my days when I would get driven to another school and work with 2nd grade kids. I loved helping them with spelling, solving math problems, working on science projects and I would eat lunch with them for 30 minutes while they shared how they are doing and I was able to mentor them. The time I spent with them always helped me to not take myself too seriously. I also tutored 6th grade math students who were struggling to build their fundamental math skills and their confidence. This year I help another 6th grade class during their homeroom. I help them with their homework, studying for tests and to complete their projects.  It makes me feel happy that I can talk with younger kids and hear about what they are going through and what they are doing. It really helps me to put my day in perspective. I also remember not feeling great about my spelling and writing in 2nd grade and how much a little extra help really made a big difference in my confidence.

I do a lot of work with the National Charity League. It has introduced me to a ton of different organizations where I can make a difference and meet other girls from different schools. I have pulled weeds that are invasive from Wetlands, worked at dances with special needs adults, helped to create potions at the science center at the Goblin Jamboree, written cards and packed care packages for the military during the holidays, and made blankets for low-income Marin families. It is great to get out in your community – I always learn a lot and have a better understanding of what other people are going through.

6. Name a song that best describes you and why.

I am not sure if one song really describes me, but I do love Glorious by Macklemore right now. I can sing that song all day – for me I think it means living life to the fullest, shooting for your dreams, being tireless, reinventing yourself and never giving up. Have you seen the video?  It makes my mom and me really happy!


7. How has your participation in Leadership / Speech and Debate shaped you as an individual?

It has made me more confident about myself. To be able to talk with and to people has really helped me because I am usually the new kid so I need to establish my personality. My leadership. Funny, smart, athletic, talkative. I did a course at Stanford this past summer and really enjoyed the lectures, meeting people from all over the world and how to frame a persuasive idea. I really like looking at assessing issues from both sides and presenting. It is really challenging to see issues from multiple angles, but incredibly rewarding because this applies to life in general.  


8. You are now embarking on selecting a high school, what are your wishes/ fears?

I am trying to stay real to who I am. I am enjoying the process and just trying to do my best. I am a bit torn, I really want to stay with my good friends in middle school, but because of moving around a lot when I was little, I am also excited about meeting new people and making new friends.

9. List your top five places to visit and why? (this could be a country, place, museum, ice-cream shop, whatever!)

Zuma restaurant is one of my favorite places in the world to eat because they have delicious sushi, a great ambience with lots of energy, a colorful clientele and really nice people who work there. There is always groovy and hip music and every plate we order is sooooo good!!!

I love the Maldives because of the beaches, the ocean and water you can swim in. The water is warm, there are coral reefs and brightly colored fish that you can almost touch swimming around you. There are gentle turtles that you can swim right up to. The sand feels like flour and it is as white as snow.  

I like Germany because of the architecture and history. Even though it is not a really hot climate, it is still so beautiful.

Singapore I consider my second home. I have lived there for a 1/4 of my life. I love the crazy smells in the Hawker stalls, I love the Southeast Asian flavors like dim sum, noodles, chicken rice. I love tropical fruit because it is so sweet there. The people are so friendly and nice and I love the mixture of cultures. There is always a holiday that everyone is celebrating from a different religion or culture.  It is always a fun place to be!

I love London because my Dad used to live there so we would visit a lot!  My mom would always plan a cultural tour in the morning like the Winston Churchill War Museum, The Tate Modern, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guards, Windsor Castle, The British Museum and then in afternoon we would do a really fun adventure like a Street Art Tour, Covent Gardens, Harrods Ice Cream Parlor or this place called the Escape Room where you have an hour to solve mathematical equations and puzzles.   


10. If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be and how would you contribute?

World peace. I think when we focus on what we have in common and not what makes us different, we can learn to work together. I would love to be a diplomat, representing the USA sharing our ideals, but relating to others and learning about their cultures and what makes them who they are. I think the world could use a hug right now.



Retail for Allegra

1st Look: Jacket by Topshop, Dress by Wilfred at Aritzia

2nd Look: T-Shirt by Top Shop, Skirt by Nikolia

3rd Look: Jacket and Dress by Cinq a Sept

4th Look: Top by Brandy Melville, Jeans by Top Shop

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