‘Success is being able to use the privilege someone has for the betterment of others. Pestalozzi prepares people to develop a global citizen mentality and helps them to realise the world is beyond borders. Each one of us has a responsibility to do better with what we have at our disposal.’
Chanda Singoyi seems to be the sum up of all the values Pestalozzi tries to nurture in our students.
Born in Lusaka, Zambia, he was raised by his aunt and uncle after his parents passed away. In his own words, he was ‘saved by education’ because he knew how hard he would have to work to make a good life for himself and that there were also expectations he would need to achieve in order to help his family. Because of this drive, he obtained one of the highest grades in Zambia for his GCSE results.
Chanda was encouraged to apply for the Pestalozzi scholarship because of his exceptional attitude to learning and his outstanding academics. He told me about how he knew the selection process would be one of the most important interviews he had ever had in his life and that he found out he had been selected as a Pestalozzi scholar right before taking one of his most difficult exams in Zambia. He was elated.
‘I wouldn’t be who I am right now without Pestalozzi. Not only career wise, but also in thought and principles. Growing up in Zambia my responsibility was just for me and my family. My scope was very narrow in terms of what I could achieve. Meeting students from all over the world installed that feeling in me of being a global citizen.’
Chanda explained that Pestalozzi also gave him a global perspective and the realisation of how interconnected the world is. ‘In Rotaract we raised money for students to go to school in Zambia. We also ran the Hastings Half Marathon. I did things that were bigger than myself. All of these experiences prompted me to start an NGO whilst I was in my first year at Bucknell, with students from several other countries. We founded the charity Cycling Out of Poverty. I created this because a lot of parents in Zambia would use their children to help them carry things to the market and the kids would miss out on lessons at school in order to help. We started to give bicycles and carts to different families and with these they could transport their produce themselves and the children could go to school.’
Chanda saw some of his friends skip classes because they had to help their families – students who were clever and driven and could do really well if they had stayed in school. He recognised a problem then addressed it, using his skill set to create something beneficial. The project received funding by a grant from the Davis B Project, where applicants had to write a proposal and explain how their project would benefit the community.
Chanda’s list of acts of service doesn’t stop there. Whilst at Pestalozzi he volunteered at a local primary school, teaching geography and history. He also volunteered at an orphanage in Lusaka between his first and second year at Pestalozzi, teaching Maths, Science and coordinating games. That was the first time he had ever volunteered in Zambia and this was in huge part due to the encouragement he received from Pestalozzi to do so. He also helped to run a mentorship programme for international students to help them settle in to life in the US whilst at Bucknell University.
‘I now feel an obligation to do something for others because of the opportunities I was given by Pestalozzi. I feel compelled to help because of the chance I was given and it’s made me want to give a better life to others. Pestalozzi prepares future leaders of the world. I was never one to take an active role in leading until I got to Pestalozzi. It prepares people to develop a global citizen mentality and helps them to realise the world is beyond borders. Each one of us has a responsibility to do better with what we have at our disposal. You are made to feel that you are capable of making a difference in the world. That’s what makes Pestalozzi important. Pestalozzi encouraged us to be better people and citizens and the primary focus was on us volunteering and giving back to our community, rather than just on academics’.
Chanda is also currently an advisor for the board of Our Moon, where he mentors students in Zambia who are wanting to apply to university. Full time, he works as a Project Engineer for Clark Engineering Group, who impressively built the African American museum in Washington DC!
His message for Pestalozzi donors was this: ‘By donating to Pestalozzi you are contributing to a fund that teaches and produces a group of people who are eager and driven to make a difference not only in their communities but all across the world. It is very worthwhile. It goes a long way from just education. Pestalozzi was the best thing that has ever happened to me.’
Currently, alongside his full time job, Chanda is working to create a consistent engagement with his community in Zambia and to interact with more people who are trying to have meaningful impacts back home, as well as fundraising for Cycling Out of Poverty. Meeting Chanda gave me a new and inspiring perspective from which to see the world around me. Compassion and commitment shine through in everything he does and the world is truly better for having him in it. It’s going to be very exciting to see the developments of his charity over the next few years!