Alexandra Vépierre has been volunteering at Pestalozzi for the last three months. She’s been working across both the Fundraising and Marketing team and also the Student Program team. Alexandra has been a great help and we will all miss her. Here she reflects on her time at Pestalozzi and what she got up to.
Time flies. That’s an expression I’ve discovered here, and that clearly represents my feelings now. The last three months have gone too fast and I can’t believe I have to pack my things and leave Pestalozzi. I am sad of course, but also very proud of my internship, which changed my perception and my goals in life. Three months are too short to completely change a person, but are enough to learn new values and discover new ways of thinking.
If I had to make a portrait of Pestalozzi, I probably point first the generosity, the tolerance and the respect, which govern the relationships. At Pestalozzi, students and staff members are from 14 different countries, so a large openness to other cultures and personalities is necessary. I really enjoyed seeing Asian students dancing to African songs, Belizeans eating Asian food, and Africans defending Tibet’s cause. Of course, life here is not a bed of roses and I noticed some difficulties, but it is one more reason to help the charity and support its members. Everyone tries to do their best even if living and working in the small community is sometimes hard.
An internship at Pestalozzi is a mix of amazing and unusual encounters, discoveries and eating cakes, cookies and Asian dishes (thanks kitchen staff!!!). It’s also hard to memorize all 43 names, I finally succeeded in the middle of my internship, but I gave up learning their surnames! Thanks to Pestalozzi, I was able to go on a trip to London with the students; I went to see the show Hairspray; I appreciated the large collection of art in Fair light Hall; I discovered archery; attended Spanish lessons and went to my first quiz night! Most importantly, I had parties with the students for Halloween, girls’ party, games’ party, and a volunteer party with Steffie, Tanja and Adrian.
In the last three months I’ve completed a range of projects. My tasks were diverse so I’ll only describe three of them.
I organised a Zumba class every week which the students and staff could participate in. I am not a real Zumba teacher, but I love dancing and I liked sharing my passion with the students. It was stressful as my first day as a teacher, but I was very surprised, they were very motivated and enthusiastic. I was most surprised two weeks after, when almost fifteen BOYS came to the class to have fun together – they seemed to enjoy themselves!
We also created the "Ladybird Insider”, the first Pestalozzi newspaper written by 12 students and budding journalists! I was very impressed when the students suggested ideas for their articles: fossil fuels, demonstrations in Indonesia, the situation of Tibet etc. - all of that demonstrated their intelligence and their concern about the world around them. I was really proud to work with them, even if I had to chase them for their articles all the time.
Finally, I wrote a profile of all nine countries represented at Pestalozzi. It was a long, hard and fascinating piece of work. It was very interesting to meet every student and talk about their country. I was really surprised by their maturity and their wish to improve the situation in their nation. It was humbling to see their pride when describing the beauty of their country and I really enjoyed learning about different cultures, ways of life and of thinking- it was so rewarding! I would like to discover and visit all nine countries!
Now I have to say goodbye and thank you to each person that I’ve met during this amazing trip. I was proud to be, if only for three months, a member of the Pestalozzi family. I’ve had the chance to meet amazing people that I would not have met otherwise. My only regret was that I was staying far away from Pestalozzi, so I wasn’t able to get to know and speak to each student more often.
I leave England feeling sad but also empowered by the inspiring students and generous staff members. Thank you for everything!
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