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Local history meets global issues at archive event

29 April 2013

Vietnamese children prepare to leave for PestalozziLast week brought a chance to learn more about the way our corner of East Sussex has been influenced by major world events, as the Pestalozzi Archive Project drew to a close. A reception celebrating the completion of the Heritage Lottery funded project "Fifty Years in East Sussexā€¯ took place in Hastings on Tuesday 23 April.

The Pestalozzi Archive Project was initiated in 2009 to mark the 50th Anniversary of Pestalozzi International Village Trust (formerly Pestalozzi Children's Village), which first opened its doors in 1959. Over the past three years, archivists and volunteers have sorted, catalogued, digitised and preserved half a centuryā€™s worth of paperwork, photographs, ephemera and film material. The archive demonstrates the impact that distant (and closer-to-home) events such as wars, invasions and famines have had an effect on this part of East Sussex, particularly through the young people who have lived at Pestalozzi.

Students and Alumni at the eventThe Pestalozzi Archive Project was completed earlier this year and the material is now held at the East Sussex Record Office and Screen Archive South East. The event included a screening of archive film, short talks by current and former Pestalozzi students and a short presentation of a selection from the paper and photographic collection.

Since the 1950s, Pestalozzi has evolved with the times. When the village first began, it welcomed children between the ages of 10 and 18 from countries across war-torn Europe. From the 1960s onwards, in response to global events, Pestalozzi began to welcome students from Asia and the Middle East.

Eastern European Pestalozzi children from the 1950s or 1960sIn 1997, Pestalozzi re-focused to provide higher educational opportunities for academically bright but economically disadvantaged young people aged 16 to 19. This reflected the fact that primary school and early high school education had seen radical improvements in many countries, while changes in UK law made it difficult to bring younger children to the country. Pestalozzi students now hail from seven countries around the world, with the first students from Bhutan to be welcomed in the next academic year.