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Ruth Donaliya Mwangase

Ruth Donaliya Mwangase

From: Zambia
At: Pestalozzi: 2009-2011

Ruth Donaliya Mwangase came to Pestalozzi from Zambia in 2009, graduating in 2011. Since then, she studied Economics at Jacobs University Bremen and is currently pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration. Here she shares her story, and the effect Pestalozzi has had on her life.

Growing 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.

I completed high school in November 2008 and for a very long time I had no idea what path my life was going to take. In April 2009, I was called for the Pestalozzi interview together with 34 other students from all over Zambia. I was alarmed at the prospect of having to write exams in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and English as I had been out of school for five months! The day I was told I had been awarded the Pestalozzi scholarship was one of the happiest moments my family and I have ever experienced.

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. Receiving the Pestalozzi scholarship and going to school in the UK was a life-changing experience for me as it did not only open many doors, but it also dared me to dream the dreams I had always imagined to be out of my reach. It 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 wasable to learn this first hand from my Tibetan friends and I soon joined the cause in the fight for a Free Tibet.

I completed high school in November 2008 and for a very long time I had no idea what path my life was going to take. In April 2009, I was called for the Pestalozzi interview together with 34 other students from all over Zambia. I was alarmed at the prospect of having to write exams in Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and English as I had been out of school for five months! The day I was told I had been awarded the Pestalozzi scholarship was one of the happiest moments my family and I have ever experienced.

Receiving the Pestalozzi scholarship and going to school in the UK was a life-changing experience for me as it did not only open many doors, but it also dared me to dream the dreams I had always imagined to be out of my reach. It 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.

Ruth working on a video for Pestalozzi in 2013

Ruth Donaliya MwangaseAfter graduating from Pestalozzi in 2011,
I proceeded to Jacobs University in Bremen where I studied Global Economics and Management and minored in Psychology. As part of my Bachelor’s Degree, I was required to gain some work experience. After looking at how many people’s lives Pestalozzi has changed, I realized that no amount of "Thank You's” would ever be enough to give Pestalozzi. Therefore, when it was time for me to decide where I wanted to do my internship, Pestalozzi came to mind. I had always wanted to help "give back” to the place that changed my life.
It was lovely to see everyone again and it was delightful to make new friends with the new students. Working behind the scenes at Pestalozzi was an eye-opener for me because it exposed me to all the hard work that the Pestalozzi staff put in to make sure that there are new students coming to Pestalozzi every year.


During Ruth's time at Pestalozzi, she created five videos, including three in the We are Pestalozzi! series: Pestalozzi means..., The best thing about Pestalozzi... and Challenges at Pestalozzi... If you would like to take part in the video series, please contact Hannah on hannah.nice@pestalozzi.org.uk or 01242 871901.