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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