Alumni Success Story


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Name: Arnold Katende

Country: Uganda

Pestalozzi Scholar: 2014-2016

Before I got the Pestalozzi Scholarship, I was an ordinary level student at Trust High School in Uganda. I was selected as one of the candidates for the Pestalozzi interviews by Quicken Trust, this opportunity changed my life. If I did not get a Pestalozzi scholarship, I would not otherwise have gotten the opportunity to study abroad, learn about other cultures around the world or even attend University.

The 2 years at Pestalozzi opened doors for me to explore and appreciate other people’s beliefs and cultures, follow my career goals and be able to inspire other young people like me from Uganda, who want to make a difference in the world. I remember stories of how my Tibetan roommate Chok Tsering lived as a refugee in India and how Erwin Burgos from Belize, Class of 2016, helped me learn Spanish. This strong bond of friendship has lasted for more than 6 years and now we both attend EARTH where we’re currently studying for the same degree and attend the same classes.

Everywhere I go, my Pestalozzi family, from the trustees to fellow alumni who are spread all over the world, inspire and offer guidance through their various life experiences.

After graduating from Pestalozzi International Village in 2016, I chose to take a gap year doing voluntary work with youths in Uganda. This year back home enabled me to reconnect with my family and prepare for my degree at EARTH University. I am now a third year agriculture engineering student at EARTH. I have learnt a lot in Costa Rica, from living with a Costa Rican (Tica) family during my intense spanish program in my first year, the numerous benefits of organic farming, sustainable resource management and of course my favourite expression “Pura Vida”. Pura Vida is a Costa Rican expression for the British “Cheers”. At campus, I enjoy jogging after classes, and I am also part of an African dance group that aims to promote African culture and traditions through music, dance and drama. In 2018, I was recognised by professors at EARTH University as one of the distinguished students in my class for outstanding personal qualities and academic performance.

I identify with the Pestalozzi head, heart and hands philosophy and I am currently working on different agricultural community development projects that would greatly improve the lives of many small holder farmers in Uganda. I have managed to win the MasterCard Social Entrepreneurship Fund of $5,500 and the Pestalozzi Development Fund of $5,800 for my project Joint Organic Aquaponics (JOA). JOA aims to use recycled materials and solar energy to produce plants and fish together in a constructed eco-system that uses 90% less water, no weeds, no chemicals and is far more productive than conventional agriculture. Aquaponics is a great solution to tackle climate change, water shortages and can contribute to the overall self-sustainability of house holds in Uganda.

My JOA project was also been selected by the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and the Clinton Foundation in the CGI U class of 2020, where I will participate in leadership development, mentorship, skills training, and partnership building, with the experience culminating in the CGI U Annual Meeting at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland where commitment-makers across the world come together to learn how to turn their ideas into action.

I also won a grant of $5,000 and Fellowship from the Resolution Project at the MasterCard Baobab summit in Rwanda 2019 for my social venture GenFarm Financial Enterprise which aims to empower smallholder farmers in northern Uganda through financial literacy training, access to agricultural technologies, and end-to-end services that optimize crop yields and labor productivity. This fellowship is presented to socially responsible leaders for their outstanding dedication to making positive change and helping others today and for life-long commitment to sustainable impact, innovation, collaboration and social responsibility.

I talk about Pestalozzi to everyone I know, about how it is inspiring young people to make a difference in the world through life changing educational opportunities. I believe receiving this opportunity signifies a social responsibility in the transformation of my community and country. My message to other young people like me is to believe in themselves, work hard, try different things, and never give up. Commitment, resilience and supporting organisations like Pestalozzi are crucial if we want to transform Africa and the rest of the world. I love Pestalozzi!

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