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.
Beatriz Gonzalez Bermejo – Volunteer from Spain – August 2017 – July 2018 – ERASMUS+ programme, Youth Projects, Key Action 1 – Youth Mobility (EVS)

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