Author: tristan@astdesign.co.uk

My time at Pestalozzi – August 2017 to July 2018

My time at Pestalozzi – August 2017 to July 2018

I am Beatriz from Spain.
Having a Primary School Teaching degree and a career in non-formal education in Spain, I came to Pestalozzi to volunteer for ten months as part of the Erasmus + programme (specifically the European Voluntary Service), in August 2017.
One of the reasons why Pestalozzi was my first option as an organisation hosting EVS was the organisation’s philosophy of “head, heart and hands” which for me is one of my ideal models of education. This was not the only reason. To live in an intercultural community with young people from nine different countries, different religions and backgrounds in the middle of the countryside in England made me think that this organisation was perfect for me to spend one year improving my English, my career and my personal experience. I wasn’t wrong.

Beatriz (right) with Pestalozzi students
As a volunteer in the Student Programme Department, I assist with the different events: Annual SFT (Students For a Free Tibet) conference, International Women’s Day and Holi; trips to London, Canterbury, Dover and Rye; and extracurricular activities such as Quiz Nights, Christmas Carol concerts, Halloween and Intercultural Dinners.
I also run weekly activities: Spanish, Yoga and How to use Emotional Intelligence. In my opinion my main focus is to be a role model for the students, a figure that they can trust and ask for help from and someone who can accompany them through this journey. Pestalozzi is not only an organisation that provides A level education, it also educates young adults to make a difference in the world and this objective starts to develop while the students are immersed in an intercultural community where they can broaden their own interests and concerns through different extracurricular activities and clubs. Here is where the role of the volunteer acquires all its meaning.
I still remember my first day when I left the volunteer house to introduce myself to the members of the staff and I met two of the Indian students and I couldn’t even understand their names (it took me almost a month to memorise all of them). At that moment I was quite afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do what was expected of me because I not only had to get used to a new country but a foreign country living with nine different nationalities with their respective accents and manners.. It took me only a few days to realise that it wasn’t going to be a problem because I was living in a big family and I was the newest member (or that is how all of them made me feel). Every day I learnt something new and I still have the feeling that I receive more than I give.
Being in my last month and a half I only can say that I have become part of a big family from around the world and that for me Pestalozzi is an intercultural microcosm in which young people live with hope and good intentions to change the world; a source of motivation and inspiration for me to continue working and to give the best of myself until I leave.
I will miss all of my friends.
Bea
Beatriz Gonzalez Bermejo – Volunteer from Spain – August 2017 – July 2018 – ERASMUS+ programme, Youth Projects, Key Action 1 – Youth Mobility (EVS)

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Ed Tourle Blog: Supporting students to achieve

Ed Tourle Blog – Supporting students to achieve

Access to education reduces poverty and hardship; it boosts economic growth and income. Quality education has been proven to have a generational impact on low income families. It increases a person’s chances of living a healthy life, reduces maternal deaths, and leads to lower instances of diseases such as HIV and AIDS. Education impacts positively on issues such as gender equality and child marriage and through embracing diversity, promotes peace and understanding.

However, the cost of education is prohibitive in the countries Pestalozzi works with. Access to quality education especially in those subjects and specialisations which meet the needs of their most academically-able students is a daily struggle. Our high-achieving low income students need financial support and an environment that inspires and challenges them to enable them to reach their full potential.

Pestalozzi is able to provide this support and enrol students in local colleges so these academically-skilled young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to obtain an education that would not be possible without our assistance.

The students come to our multi-cultural, multi-faith community in the heart of the High Weald in East Sussex, where they learn to embrace diversity and welcome difference. They study A Levels at local colleges where they add significantly to the vibrancy and diversity of their cohort, sharing their cultures and beliefs and gaining skills, knowledge and personal qualities.

But education does not end with Pestalozzi, we select lifelong learners. The pathway to professional credentials makes full scholarships in Higher Education a goal for the majority of the students we work with. 73% of our students go on to obtain first degrees, 16% achieve Masters and 3% complete Phds. We support our students to apply for these scholarships and need to understand what the different universities are seeking and how to best explain the context of our students’ successes.

Ed Tourle, Head of Student Education, attended the (CIS) Council of International Schools Global Forum. He had the opportunity to explain how Pestalozzi supports students and network with fellow NGOs and admissions teams from universities around the world:

In a global market of increasing competition and expense in Higher Education, international networking opportunities are valuable. Full scholarships in Higher Education are hard won and central to Pestalozzi’s mission in providing educational pathways to impact vulnerable communities in the future.

As a first time attendee of the CIS Global Forum, I knew the conference was a superb opportunity to network with other like-minded organisations and to meet university representatives. It was well attended by 78 different countries ranging from the United States to Japan, and among those countries 447 University representatives from various higher education institutions were present.

During the two days in Edinburgh, the CIS put on more than 45 sessions on country/regional updates, tips, trends, best practices, and other professional development topics within the international admission and guidance arena. Networking sessions were also put on throughout with specific time allocated to school and university fairs.

What is the HALI Access Network?

The HALI Access Network is an association of organisations in Africa that work with high-achieving, low-income students to facilitate access to higher education opportunities. We advocate for increased inclusion, access and scholarships support to our students. The work HALI does has a connection with what we do at Pestalozzi. Here at Pestalozzi International Village Trust, in the UK we give scholarships to economically disadvantaged students from 9 countries enable them continue their educational journey.

I presented on a panel with two HALI Access Network colleagues, Emily Dickson, Assistant Director for Global Initiatives Office of Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Joy Beth Bodie, College Counsellor and Student Advisor with Bridge 2 Rwanda.

Our session, titled HALI Access Network: Making your Institution Accessible to High Achieving Low-Income Students from the African Continent (and beyond) was essential in our journey to creating broader access to educational opportunities for the incredible students we serve.

What can Pestalozzi take from this wonderful experience?

Promoting Pestalozzi International Village Trust is so important at an event like this where many institutions with strong histories of success with other NGOs simply do not know about us. But we are just part of the picture and HALI Access Network is working hard collectively to create useful in country contacts, context and competitive cases for consideration. No more alliteration. I believe so strongly in what we do and the warmth, support and open appreciation of our journey is a reminder of what a wonderful field this is to work in.

Over the course of the week I discovered, amongst many other things, a range of new scholarships (8!) that I never knew existed and deeply insightful information on the admissions process at specific universities. We are plum in the middle of application season so the topic of current apps is fresh in everyone’s mind and advocacy in this wide family could happen on a very personal level. What a gift.

All present are focused on the creation of success in young lives, impact in a febrile world and future generations of people with the social responsibility to assert themselves creatively and productively in a market for which the jobs they are capable of mastering do not even exist yet. That is why I love this work and the students and professionals that I work with.

Much follow up to do now, to pass on the guidance, advice and revelations from a conference of profound and lasting impact. My sincerest thanks to CIS, HALI Access Network and Pestalozzi for making this possible.

Ed Tourle
Head of Student Education
Pestalozzi International Village Trust

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CEO Blog Post: UK Universities should adopt a ‘contextual admissions’ policy

CEO Blog Post

UK Universities should adopt a ‘contextual admissions’ policy

Thursday 26th October 2017

Pestalozzi CEO, Susan Walton, says evidence shows that educational institutions can help students overcome poverty and disadvantage. She’s calling on UK Universities to adopt ‘contextual considerations’ in admissions decision making. The experience of Pestalozzi International Village Trust is that such an approach can break the cycle of inter generational poverty.

UK universities are being challenged to make radical changes to their admissions policies to ensure they are not solely the preserve of the privileged and offer real opportunities to disadvantaged students.

Bristol University’s decision to adopt a policy of ‘contextual admissions’ and The Sutton Trust’s call for the lowering of university offers for applicants from deprived backgrounds, has generated a flurry of activity across social media. Much of the comment appears to come from those who have had the privilege of a University education claiming that the world will falter on its axis if our top universities pursue this path of ‘dumbing down’.

As the Chief Executive Officer of a charity that offers educational opportunities to young people who come from some of the world’s poorest communities I couldn’t disagree more. Indeed our experience shows that if we are to truly to address disadvantage and support those who have not had the life chances of the current elite we should be going further than this, providing financial assistance and pastoral encouragement to show that university is an option for them.

This morning I heard a privately educated young woman comment on BBC Radio that allowing young people from poorer backgrounds to access university places with lower grades would devalue all the effort she had put into securing her grades. This, to me, demonstrated a remarkable lack of understanding of the amount of hard work that someone from a poorer background has to put in to overcome the multiple barriers that poverty presents just to get to the point where A-Levels are a realistic option let alone a university place.

Privilege expresses itself in so many different ways from the obvious to the opaque and obscure. Most people recognise the advantage that a private education offers but few understand the difficulties a young person faces when they also care for their parents, have no quiet space in which to study at home or when, as is the case with many of our students, they are unable to pay for the text book they need to study outside of the classroom environment.

Pestalozzi International Village Trust has worked for almost 60 years to provide educational opportunities to young people from some of the poorest countries in the world. Over this time we have learnt that creating opportunities for these young people successfully empowers them to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. We provide access to quality secondary education and for many this paves the way to university education.

When we choose students to benefit from a Pestalozzi scholarship their academic achievement is, of course, a key consideration. However the most important of our selection criteria is identifying that spark of determination, the special something that indicates this young person has already overcome significant obstacles in their early education and has the resilience and commitment to seize the opportunity that a scholarship offers to make a difference for themselves, their family and their community.

Young people who view their university education as a privilege and not an entitlement, who understand this is their chance to build a better future tend to work harder to ensure that they make the most of every opportunity, taking nothing for granted.

We are not the only organisation to recognised this. Our alumni secure fully funded scholarship places at universities such as Harvard, MIT, NYU, Yale, Princeton, Duke and Swarthmore. These institutions have long recognised the value of what is now being referred to as ‘contextual admissions’ and no-one is suggesting that they have ‘dumbed down’. Indeed in the last 20 years 73% of our alumni have studied at universities while 16% undertake Masters Degrees and 3% PhDs before entering the world of work. Understanding the importance that education played in changing their lives they go on to take on leadership roles and found charities to help those who remain in poverty.

None of this would be possible if they had been judged solely on the basis of their academic achievement in secondary education. It is time our top universities recognised this to a much greater extent and played a broader role in overcoming the disadvantages that poverty creates.

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Student blog: First Impressions

Student blog: First Impressions

I looked at my door on the night of the 24th August 2016 to see the name tag pasted on the door of my room to-be

– Samikshya Dhami and Shaylynne Mckop –

I opened the door that day to find quite a small room (I later realized that it is actually one of the smallest rooms in Songsten Khang) for two people. Little did I know that the very small room would be big enough to fit two beds, a cupboard, a study table and most importantly different sets of cultures, beliefs and thoughts.

Sharing a space with someone is an amazing experience. Each year at Pestalozzi, the first years’ share their room with someone from another continent; in my case, someone who lived about 7911km away from Nepal.
Being roommates is having someone who will bring your notebooks when you’re running for a meeting, someone to share your laundry time with and someone to talk to when you can’t sleep. These moments give us opportunities not just to know the person better but also to learn and appreciate the diversity at Pestalozzi. Looking back, I feel like my roommate and I really took the chance to do this. I learned a great deal about Zimbabwe from both Shaylynne and Blessing. Laughs, gossips and songs were a part of the ‘fun’ I remember, but what I cherish the most are the long talks concerning the problems shared by both of our countries and of course about Mugabe.

‘Students from nine different countries live together.’ This sentence no longer makes me think of anything; I have heard it many times. However, it does not really mean that it has lost it essence. For me, this ‘internationalism’, as we call it, is one of the standing factors of the Pestalozzi experience that make it the best two years of many lives.
When having a recent conversation with a history teacher from Benenden School, the teacher talked about his visit to a camp in Japan many years ago “I became friends with many youths from different countries when I was there. The purpose of the camp was to develop an understanding of other cultures, which might become handy to ensure respect of other countries if all of us became ministers one day.” What a cool idea that was. I thought about it and quickly realized that we are very lucky to be able to experience that ‘camp’ feeling every single day. As we understand each other and learn to respect one another’s beliefs and values, I’m sure the world would be a peaceful place if we were to become Presidents, Prime Ministers or representatives of our countries in the future.
The story of our ‘internationalism’ starts with our roommates, but it does not end there. The friendships develop with time and reach a point where nationality comes second and the individual comes first. We learn to understand and respect each other’s differences so much that they no longer are of any importance; we love each other not because we belong to different countries, but because we share a bond as beautiful as any other.
I have memories of Taku (from Zimbabwe) wearing a Nepalese khukuri cross topi for a photoshoot last year, the celebration of Christmas (my first proper Christmas) and our dance to beats of Guetta (a song from Zimbabwe). These are just a few of the examples that come to my mind when talking about such cultural exchange at Pestalozzi.

These little things add life to Pestalozzi; Geoffrey greeting me in Nepali; attending sessions for Students for Free Tibet; learning about the swift movements of Batak Tortor; shouting “Ulifye Laka” and enjoying being Zambian; bowing down to say, “Tashi Delek”. In all these experiences lie the beauty of our friendships and the beauty of the Pestalozzi International Village.

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Student Blog: Head, Heart and Hands

Student Blog: Head, Heart and Hands

20 August 2014
Here at Pestalozzi we aim to give our students a holistic experience with plenty of opportunities to educate the Head, Heart and Hands. This can mean a variety of things to each individual and can be implemented in many different ways.

Pestalozzi believed that everyone deserved an education regardless of their social status

Head

When JH Pestalozzi talks about the ‘head’, he encourages us to develop our intellectual side, exploring and engaging with the world in order to learn about it.
Kishore Chandra Patra gained an amazing 43 on his IB (our equal top score for 2013 alongside Surya Tripathi) and received the International Student of the Year Award from Sussex Coast College Hastings. Kishore’s extended essay analysed the makeup of the gases found in fizzy drinks. “I used a Michelson Interferometer to look at the refractive indices of air and carbon dioxide at different pressures, and to compare the refractive indices of the gases in fizzy drinks. I found that although the bottle says ‘carbon dioxide’, the gases are not pure carbon dioxide but a mixture of air and carbon dioxide.” But there is a caveat, says Kishore. “It was a really tough experiment! It’s possible that the gas which I collected from the drinks was contaminated by air, which could have skewed my results.”

Kishore Chandra Patra received the International Student of the Year award from Sussex Coast College in 2013

Heart

For Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, developing the ‘heart’ means developing our ethical side by encouraging responsibility and integrity, friendship and love, gratitude and empathy with others.

We asked two of our recent graduates how they had developed their ‘heart’ while at Pestalozzi:

  • Before coming to Pestalozzi my heart or emotions, including sympathy and kindness, were limited to my own community. After coming to Pestalozzi my heart has developed for the whole globe. – Anshul Agrawal
  • By participating in volunteering activities and raising funds for disadvantaged people. Establishing a library in a rural part of Nepal is one of the greatest services that I have done. – Yadu Poudel

Volunteering projects can help develop the ‘heart’ element of Pestalozzi’s principles

Hands

The ‘hands’ part of JH Pestalozzi’s famous trilogy is probably the most complex. He includes professional and social skills, art and physical activity in this category – all the practical skills people can use to make a positive difference in the world.
At the end of every academic year, Pestalozzi organises work experience placements in organisations from hospitals to international asset management companies to art studios. Yangkyi Lhatso (now at Wellesley College) spent four days with Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust. “I am very much interested in environmental studies and the economic aspects associated with it,” she said. “This gave me great insight into an environmental organisation on theoretical and practical levels. Sitting in a forum on Wildlife Laws and meeting with a government official meant I learnt a lot about the relation between the government, the organisation and financial decisions involved. I enjoyed meeting with school teachers about environmental lessons for pupils and helping to create some lessons about sea level rise.”

Yangkyi Lhatso is now at Wellesley college

Using practical skills, people can make a positive difference in the world
This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter newsletter 2013 – download it here.

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Teaching in the time of COVID-19

Teaching in the time of COVID-19

Continuing to teach or pursue education during the coronavirus pandemic has been testing for both providers and students alike. Our own scholarship students at UWC Atlantic have migrated to online learning, something that the majority of universities and colleges have also had to resort to. Alumna Khushbu Mishra is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics at Stetson University, Florida. She shared with us some of the challenges the current pandemic has created.

‘Coronavirus brought with it several challenges for both instructors and students. As instructors we had to prepare materials and adapt to the online teaching environment at very short notice and learn about the platforms that we could use. I spent several days doing extensive research on which platforms would be the most user-friendly and add less stress to my students. Depending on whether my students were in the same or different time zones, I designed course materials so that I could teach in both synchronous and asynchronous ways. For the latter, I had to dedicate extra hours to recording lectures that I uploaded online so students could access them at their own convenience. Conducting final exams with an online teaching model was another challenging part of the course. Nevertheless, I felt sorry for my students who had different professors using different platforms, meaning that they had no agency in choosing the platforms that would serve them the best. I had a few students that disappeared and dropped out of my courses. This has been quite common for my colleagues as well. Many students have had to juggle taking on family duties with attending classes. However, most of all, financial hardship has been the most challenging aspect for students.’

We are certain that students are grateful for the continued support that is being provided by educationalists like Khushbu and the efforts they have made to try and keep learning inclusive for all.

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