Name: Rudolph Parham
Pestalozzi Scholar: 2012-2014
When Rudolph returned to Belize in 2014, I waved off a boy at the airport. On my first visit to Belize I was meeting Rudolph, the man! I joined Rudolph for a rather rain-soaked and windswept dinner before he headed off to another district to promote his newest venture.
Rudolph is originally from Punta Gorda in the southern district of Toledo, a place that has links to cacao growing and chocolate making. Working hard and receiving scholarships have been an important part of Rudolph’s educational journey. At weekends he sold ice cream around town and used the proceeds to pay for his lunch during the week and an NGO scholarship from the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment enabled him to attend high school. As a way of giving back to the NGO, Rudolph helped to run summer environmental education camps for students for several years. His struggles have clearly instilled in Rudolph a steely determination to succeed and to help others.
While at Pestalozzi, Rudolph was well liked by both his peers and staff alike. His fellow students described him as approachable, confident and adaptable with a good sense of humour. The latter is definitely something that he has not lost! Rudolph was always an active participant in the numerous events that took place and often initiated activities.
‘The most important thing I learnt about myself at Pestalozzi is that my charisma and my compassion make me an enabler for others. I often find others confiding in me and it feels really great knowing I can be trusted to that extent. As Graham Card, a former Pestalozzi Trustee, told me, ‘Think Cool, Be Cool, Stay Cool’, I realised I am a very calm and collected person. I pride myself in being able to maintain control of situations that can easily escalate into tensions.’
On completing his IB Diploma in 2014 Rudolph returned to Belize and set to work overcoming the various hurdles in place to obtain his teacher’s licence. He spent three months teaching Maths and Physics at Toledo Community College. This was followed by spells on the support team at eSkillz and as a volunteer with the Toledo Cacao Growers Association, where he organised events and helped with customer relations. He continued his own studies at Saint John’s College Junior College in Belize City, from which he graduated with an Associate Degree in Sociology and Economics in 2019, making the Dean’s List and achieving the highest GPA in his faculty. Inspired by the experience of participating in the London International Model United Nations event and coupled with his enthusiasm for debate, Rudolph set about founding an MUN group at the college, which is still active.
A young man with a strong moral compass and an entrepreneurial streak, Rudolph continues to display a strong sense of responsibility towards his community. He admits that there have been times when the lack of opportunities in Belize has been frustrating, however this has never broken his forward momentum and his broadened perspective has allowed him to have a more philosophical approach about what the future may hold.
‘Pestalozzi was important to my personal and academic development as I was challenged by a world class qualification which was by no means easy. The challenge and demand of the IB program made me realise at an early age that it is never going to be easy to achieve the greatness we are meant to. Personally, living, studying and working alongside students of different nationalities from different parts of the world allowed me to develop a broader view on the way of life of others and even on the way of life outside my own village. It was a young boy from a village in Toledo, Belize, suddenly living in the UK, studying with students of many different origins and way of life. This, I believe had the most impact on me, to be able to understand and relate with others despite our different cultures.’
Rudolph’s time in Belize City was brief as he headed off with a friend to promote a new venture ‘Just Shoot Productions’ , where they will offer video and photo shoots as well as music recording. I am hopeful that his charisma and entrepreneurial skills will help to make the business a success. Rudolph readily admits that he is not entirely sure of which direction he will take career wise in the future, but what I do not doubt is that whatever it is he will give it 100%.
‘Pestalozzi believes in the Head, Heart and Hands principle, which has been instilled within me and I try to live by it as much as possible. At Pestalozzi, students gain a balance of academics, learn how to be compassionate, and learn how to be proactive in the community. With no conditions, students are taken under their wings and given a chance at life, given that they select students that meet the criteria of being academically bright, but economically disadvantaged. Pestalozzi is more than just a scholarship program. It is a family, its origins were out of necessity and it was a distinguishing initiative in its times. This does not change today. With the world growing increasingly divided, Pestalozzi represents an idea that can unite young leaders from many different walks of life, instilling within them leadership principles that goes beyond the Village that once was and beyond the academic studies. Because of Pestalozzi, I can confidently say I am growing with a rigour to make this world a better place.’
On meeting Rudolph for the first time in five years it is clear to see that he has lost none of his drive and determination. He is a perfect example of the transformative power of education and how so often it is a lack of resources and opportunities that prevent motivated and bright young people from achieving their full potential.