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Intern blog: From books to reality

August 2013

Pestalozzi Alumna Donna Ruth Mwangase has been volunteering at Pestalozzi as a marketing intern over summer. In her fourth blog, she discusses the rich of experiences that the Pestalozzi scholarship helped bring out of the pages of books and into her life.

Donna Mwangase with Gisele Minet at the Seven SistersGrowing up as a child in Zambia, I enjoyed going through the massive piles of books that my father had lying around the house. Initially I looked out for the interesting pictures of things I had never seen before but, as I grew older, my interest in books went beyond pictures and I would sit for hours on end reading about new and exciting places all around the world. With time, I developed a strong liking for books, languages, history and travelling. I dreamed that I would one day visit some of the places I had read about as they seemed so different from my country.

At a time at which some parents in the country detested education for girls and encouraged early marriages, I was lucky enough to have parents who valued education and encouraged me to read more books, study hard and help my young sisters with their academics. Whenever my father had extra money, he gladly got me novels to read – on the condition that I looked up new words in the dictionary and write them all down. My interest for books taught me so much about life outside Zambia and pushed me to study harder.

Being awarded the Pestalozzi scholarship was like a dream come true because it not only opened up bright academic doors for me but it gave me the chance to experience many more cultures at once than I could have ever imagined. Living with Indian and Nepali people for two years, watching them do their traditional dances and having them dress me up in beautiful saris and do my make-up, brought to life what I had watched in Bollywood movies and taught me things about their different caste systems that I never fully grasped by reading books. Before coming to Pestalozzi, I was unaware of the situation in Tibet and I was able to learn this first hand from my Tibetan friends and I soon joined the cause in the fight for a Free Tibet.

My interactions with the other Pestalozzi students complemented my aspirations, as I made wonderful friends and we made plans to one day visit each other in our different countries. I’ve also been lucky to visit places in London like the London Bridge that I read about in Jeffery Archer’s "First Among Equals” and the famous Seven Sisters (pictured above) that that I had always seen in photos on calendars. In the future, I hope to visit more interesting places like the Berlin Wall and the Grand Canyon.

You can help bring the world to life for another generation of Pestalozzi students by donating today, or helping out in another way.