22 July 2013
Hannah Leeming is currently studying Russian Civilisation and International Development at the University of Leeds. She has been volunteering at Pestalozzi with the Opportunities Programme in order to get some practical experience in International Development over the summer.
I was lucky enough to get some work experience with Pestalozzi at the beginning of June of this year and enjoyed myself so much that I decided to stay on and volunteer throughout the summer!
I have been doing lots of little bits to help out, but my main focus has been researching the education systems in Pestalozzi’s partner countries. I have been trawling the web trying to find out exactly how schooling works in these countries: whether it’s free, whether it’s compulsory, whether scholarships are available, attendance ratios, enrollment ratios, drop-out rates, uniform costs, travel costs, what qualifications students receive and what examinations they have to sit – just to name but a few. It is proving to be an extensive task but is one that is really interesting and at times quite sobering. For example, did you know that in Zambia only 6% of secondary school leavers are able to access tertiary education and only 2.2% actually enrol in tertiary education? It’s facts like these that make me realise how lucky we are to have the education system that we do in the UK.
Before the graduating Pestalozzi students went home in June, I also helped a few of them with their personal statements and applications to UK universities. Being a humanities student it proved quite difficult as many of the Pestalozzi students want to study science based subjects, something of which I know absolutely nothing. However, I was really impressed with their knowledge and enthusiasm and it certainly seemed like they knew what they were talking about! Hopefully I was of some help to them and I wish them all the best in applying to universities in the near future.
What has been particularly lovely about my time at Pestalozzi is how friendly and welcoming both the staff and students have been. Often it can be hard coming into a new environment where you don’t know what you’re doing, but I was made to feel like part of the team almost immediately which was wonderful. Meeting the students was also really inspiring. It’s amazing how enthusiastic and passionate they are about their studies and it makes me realise how much we take our education for granted here in the UK. They were also really polite and friendly, always stopping to say hello and ask how I was whenever they popped in to the office. I think it says a lot about the students that when I saw some of them off at the end of June, although I had only met them a few times, I was genuinely sad to see them go. A couple of the students even said they’d keep in contact to let me know how they are getting on in their gap years, which was really lovely.
Overall, I’ve had a great time volunteering at Pestalozzi for the last couple of months. I have not only aided my studies in International Development, but have found something to keep me busy and focused during the long university summer and met some wonderful people along the way.
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering at Pestalozzi, visit our volunteering webpages or get in touch with the relevant department.
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