From India to Ivy League

Aravind with Syeed and Binayak
Aravind Swami Yeduvaka (centre) with fellow Indian Pestalozzi students Syeed Anwar Ansari and Binayak Datta.
Second year Pestalozzi students 2014
At Pestalozzi, students from around the world live together in a multi-cultural, multi-faith community.
David Mtonga
David Mtonga spoke eloquently at the Pestalozzi Leavers' Ceremony about the problems and opportunities he saw in his home country, Zambia.
Pestalozzi estate
Pestalozzi is located in the beautiful East Sussex countryside.
Pratiksha Sharma
Pratiksha Sharma from Nepal is heading to Duke next year to study Economics - but she's also a talented performance poet (video on YouTube) and artist (see her artwork in Pestalozzi Newsletters from Spring/Summer 2013 (PDF) and Spring/Summer 2014 (PDF))
Lobsang Dolma
Lobsang Dolma is a Tibetan born in India and plans to become a doctor.
Shuvechchha and Beryl at Grosvenor House
Our students undertake volunteer placements from busy London offices to local care homes (pictured), engineering companies and wildlife reserves.
Tim Mazai
Pestalozzi student Timothy Mazai: "We have a multicultural spirit within us".
Pestalozzi students celebrate results
Our Class of 2014 celebrates the beginning of a new stage in their lives thanks to Pestalozzi and our supporters.

Jonathan Williams, 7 July 2014

An inspiring story of success against the odds...

Three years ago, Aravind Swami Yeduvaka lived in an isolated village in southern India, where he fit his homework in around milking the family cow, Gowri. His hopes for the future extended to finishing his education at the most affordable polytechnic school in the area and getting a small job to support himself. He never imagined that by 2014 he would be inundated with full scholarship offers for Ivy League universities in the USA, or that he would soon be heading to Princeton to study Physics and Mathematics.

Aravind’s journey of success is due to his perseverance, talent and hard work, but also to the support of Pestalozzi, a UK-based charity that offers two-year scholarships to young people like Aravind who come from disadvantaged and deprived communities across Asia, Africa and Central America. In the last two years, 50 young people have graduated from the Pestalozzi programme, with 29 going on to fully-funded university places as far afield as Abu Dhabi, the USA and Costa Rica, as well as in the UK and their home countries.

A multi-cultural community in East Sussex

Pestalozzi International Village Trust, formerly Pestalozzi Children’s Village, is based in the quiet village of Sedlescombe, nestled in the beautiful East Sussex countryside on the edge of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s not a place one might associate with a thriving multi-cultural and multi-faith community of international students – and the same might be said of the nearby town of Hastings, where Pestalozzi scholarship students study for the two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma at Sussex Coast College Hastings (SCCH). And yet, for the last 55 years, young people from all over the world have made this corner of rural England their home.

Pestalozzi currently provides scholarships to dozens of academically gifted students from Belize, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Tibetan communities in exile. These young people and their families have struggled to make ends meet, meaning that, despite their talents, they would have been denied an education.

Young people making a difference

David Mtonga from Zambia spoke eloquently during his graduation speech about selling maize and making charcoal so he could afford to go to school, or walking half an hour with his fellow villagers to get clean water from the only working well in the area. Having achieved his IB Diploma, David will now take a gap year. He says, "I plan to dedicate my service to my community, providing clean water through installing boreholes in remote places with an NGO.”

These young people’s commitment to making a difference is encouraged by Pestalozzi and easily observed in their everyday activities. Clive Cooke, the principal at SCCH, says, "Our Pestalozzi students throw themselves into college life, with many taking on student-centred posts to support their fellow students. This is reflected in the make-up of the student council within the college.”

Academic success

Sussex Coast College Hastings itself boasts a diverse student cohort, with over 500 international students hailing from 70 countries around the world. With recent good and outstanding Ofsted results, the college has produced IB results in line with or above world averages.

This year, Pestalozzi students have achieved a 100% IB pass rate, as they did in 2013. "Pestalozzi students are champions of research and investigation,” says Clive Cooke. "They have consistently been amongst our highest performers and have as a result been able to access higher education institutions across the world.”

Pestalozzi students have been offered places at Duke, Stanford, MIT, Yale, Princeton, Smith, Kenyon, MSU, Swarthmore, Georgetown and NYU. SCCH has seen 314 students apply for UCAS, including 111 applications to Russell Group Universities.

Pratiksha Sharma, originally from Nepal, will head to Duke University in September to study Economics. She says, "The Pestalozzi scholarship and education I have received at Sussex Coast College Hastings have enabled me to pursue my dreams. I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by the charity and to the excellent teachers I’ve had over the last two years.”

Becoming global citizens

During their two-year stay in the UK, Pestalozzi students also spend time volunteering and undertaking work experience placements with businesses, charities and public institutions around the country. Lobsang Dolma, a Tibetan student born and raised in exile in remote northern India, recently spent a week at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "It is a cliché that every girl in their primary school dreams to become a doctor,” she said, "but I still aim to become one.”

As these students head out from East Sussex into the wider world to continue their global education and help make a difference to society, they will face new challenges and culture shocks, but these are opportunities they eagerly anticipate. "Our experiences and immersion into different cultures and beliefs has made us global citizens, citizens who are not afraid to go anywhere, because we have a multicultural spirit within us,” explains Zimbabwean student Timothy Mazai.

Nepalese student Prashant Sharma agrees and adds, "These two years not only provided an excellent opportunity for cross cultural understanding but enabled us to study with great teachers who taught us to challenge our beliefs.”

Ongoing impact of Pestalozzi scholarships

After leaving East Sussex, these young people will no doubt go from strength to strength, throwing themselves into opportunities that come their way and striving to make a difference in the world. Several Pestalozzi and SCCH graduates have recently achieved Masters degrees and PhDs, others have set up their own educational charities or work at international NGOs and aid organisations. Ram Rijal, who graduated Pestalozzi for MIT in 2008, has returned to Nepal and set up a well-equipped school to encourage local children to reach their academic potential. Another Nepalese graduate, medical researcher Bhawana Poudel, has set up her own scholarship charity supporting girls through the first years of high school. One of those young women has won her own Pestalozzi scholarship and will be arriving in September, to continue the cycle.

For the next few years at least, Aravind will not be milking Gowri, his family cow in India, but will instead be one of many young people who have used their two years at Pestalozzi and SCCH as a springboard into the future. Reflecting on his planned studies at Princeton, Aravind says, "it is not only grades that I acquired in Pestalozzi but something much more valuable: a chance to shape myself and gain the skills to help build a better world.”

To learn more about Pestalozzi’s impact in the world, read our alumni success stories and sign up to Pestalozzi eNews.

Inspiring young people to make a difference in the world.