Drumming his hands on the table excitedly and smiling, Aayush says to me ‘I can’t believe I didn’t tell you this yet!’
I had just asked him what his most proud achievement was since leaving Pestalozzi, knowing full well there was a lengthy list to choose from. His answer surprised me however. In-between Pestalozzi and beginning his studies at Connecticut College, he had returned to Nepal and tutored a group of students from his old school in maths. They all passed, with several obtaining A+ grades.
‘I am really proud of that and of them. I got such a huge amount of joy from teaching’.
Aayush grew up in Bhaktapur, a small city in the east corner of the Kathmandu Valley, alongside his older brother and both his parents. His dad was a driver and his mother a housewife. His schooling was paid for by winning scholarships when he would get first place in class, which happened three times.
‘If I didn’t get the Pestalozzi scholarship I wouldn’t dream as big as I do now. I had ambitions but when I got to Pestalozzi I realised I could do bigger things. Pestalozzi was an academically challenging environment, with academically bright students in one place and that really set a competitive field for me. Also the level of resources I found coming to Pestalozzi… The books! I didn’t used to read as much as I did until I got to Pestalozzi. The Economist is one of the best pieces of literature in the world and I never would have read it without Pestalozzi. I developed in various dimensions. Academically, socially and musically – I didn’t even know I could play the guitar.’
In 2017, in between his first and second year at Pestalozzi, Aayush returned home to Nepal for the summer. During this trip, he and another Pestalozzi alumnus, Samikshya Dhami, set up a library in Bloom Nepal, a school established by Pestalozzi alumni Ram K Rijal. They donated their own books as well as buying other titles and most impressively, they also raised enough money whilst in the UK to pay the school fees of a group of students attending a nearby government school. They also ran a model UN session in the school together, which received incredibly positive feedback. ‘You rarely see students as excited as when we ran that session.’
‘Everything from the library to the model UN, it was the education we received from Pestalozzi that drove Samikshya and I to run all of these projects. It was a tool we could use to help others. I wouldn’t be able to teach without an education. It’s the ripple effect. We need Pestalozzi to create the waves. I took what I learnt in the UK and brought it home to Nepal. Pestalozzi, for me, was about having fun in an academically challenging place which will later help you to help others’.
Aayush is currently studying at Connecticut College in the US on a full scholarship and he hopes to major in Economics and Maths. Here, he is also the Vice President of the International Student Association and takes part in Mock Trial. He works part time at the library, which is incredibly fitting for someone who loves books so much.
Short term, his aims are to engage more in the community in Connecticut saying ‘My community isn’t only my community back home, it is every community I live in’. Longer term he hopes to continue tutoring and eventually become a professor.