Nancy caught up with Pestalozzi alumni Tenzin Jampa on her recent visit to the US.
'I often stop to think on the corridors of MIT and it strikes me with sheer wonder that a Tibetan boy like me, coming from a humble family and simple beginnings, can study and live in MIT - one of the best educational institutions in the world. This to me stands as a testament to how effective Pestalozzi’s education programme has been. It is also a strong testament to the conviction of the many donors who believe that global prosperity and global peace comes from the education of one person at a time. And it only takes one person to change the world.'
As one of the students I spent the most time with during the PAUSE project, I assumed Tenzin Jampa would be one of the easier alumni to write about. Yet somehow his consistent passion for learning and unquenched curiosity to understand everything around him leaves me continually at a loss for words.
Born in India, Jampa's upbringing shares many similarities with Pestalozzi's other Tibetan alumni. His grandparents fled from Tibet in the 60's under the Chinese occupation and sought refuge in Dharamsala, where Jampa's parents were born. His father and mother are both teachers at the Tibetan Children's Village, a charitable organization providing care and education for Tibetan refugees and this fortunately meant that they didn't have to pay for the education of Jampa, or his younger brother and sister.
'Due to Pestalozzi’s connection with the Tibetan community in exile, I was able to apply for the Pestalozzi scholarship and I was accepted for the programme in 2017, meaning I could continue my further education. Through the two years in Pestalozzi, I learnt a lot of things. I had the privilege to live alongside people from different countries and communities, who I now deem my brothers and sisters. It was interesting to simulate a truly global community and traverse that social dynamic in the tiny village of Sedlescombe'.
Whilst studying under the Pestalozzi scholarship, Jampa threw himself into just about every extracurricular activity available. His name could always be found on a sign-up sheet and he became an integral member of the choir, performed the role of the Rabbi in Claremont School's production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' and helped in the Eco-Club. He visited the residents of care homes and sang for them, played volleyball, established a Ted-Talk club for students to share new ideas and alongside his academic studies, also pursued an EPQ in 'Why Studying Black Holes Can Be the Key to Our Universe'. For someone already so academically gifted, the resources and educational opportunities available in the UK opened up a new way of learning for him.
'I got to meet amazing teachers who truly sparked my interest in learning, teaching and having fun. I was able to study subjects such as Physics and Maths at a much deeper level than I ever could have hoped, which was truly fun.'
Jampa's natural academic aptitude already made him a highly competitive applicant for university scholarships and he was offered places at three prestigious institutions in America. In March 2019, he accepted a full scholarship to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the world. Having dreamed of attending there from a young age he had also been taking online courses through their website to further his learning outside of the classroom.
'Currently I am a freshman at MIT. I am taking a range of classes including an introduction to solid state chemistry, writing in rhetoric and engineering. I plan to become a Theoretical Physicist and I am also a part of MIT’s Taekwondo club, which has been amazing. The very fact that I'm here at MIT is mostly due to Pestalozzi. My most meaningful experience there was realising that there are so many different cultures and religions. For me, it was important because we come from a society where we believe similar things. Being in an environment where people believe in different things was important as I was seeking truth and exposure to different ideas helped me with that. It made me more sceptical and objective'.
While visiting MIT, I was lucky enough to attend a number of lectures across a variety of subjects. My experiences on their campus showed me a glimpse of an institution that selects the greatest minds in the world and fuels their curiosity and potential tenfold. I have had some of the most thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating conversations of my life with Jampa, who teaches with such natural patience, humour and a dedication to learning the likes of which have been un-paralleled by any other student I have met. Massachusetts quickly became my favourite stop of the PAUSE campaign and I attribute so much of this to the time I spent with Jampa on the campus of MIT. I relished these moments in the knowledge that several years from now, when I am certain he will be a world renowned academic professor, I will be able to recall the times he tried to teach me about philosophy or physics or when we attended a chemistry class together. If he can inspire me to learn about things I had not before shown such an interest in, I can only imagine what he might be able to do with a classroom full of people.
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