Monthly Archives: January 2016

From Templeman to Tamale: English graduate recounts voluntary experience in Ghana

Jenniah Brown, who graduated from Kent in 2015 with a BA (Hons) in English and American Literature, recently spent 12 weeks volunteering in Ghana on a voluntary placement with the Department for International Development (DFID), sponsored by the International Citizen Service (ICS). The programme he volunteered on partners the government run Non-Formal Education Division, which aims to improve the functional skills and the basic arithmetic and literacy of rural women.

Having been inspired by his journey, Jenniah is keen to spread the word on the benefits of volunteering;

There is often an air of ambivalence around leaving university, especially when considering the plethora of options available. I decided to apply for the ICS scheme, and fortuitously I was placed on a project that matched my interests, a 12 week education development project in Tamale, Ghana. So after three years stationed within my university abode, the Templeman Library, I was bursting the bubble and jetting off to a host home in Tamale.

What I actually did…

I was involved in project management, assisting the creation of budgets, leading the radio team, carrying out primary research in communities, building relationships with stakeholders, writing reports for future cohorts and external parties, all while aiding the facilitation of skills training in our community. In my spare time I worked with local musicians and was chosen to speak in front of the DFID at the British Embassy in Ghana.

Three reasons you should volunteer…

1) Learn a new culture through living in a host home. If you can stay in a host home then do so! You will be fully immersed into a family, authentically experience what it feels like to live in that part of the world and become integrated into a community.
2) Impact the lives of others for a short period of time. It sounds cliché, wanting to “make a difference”. However, when you look back on your life and what you have achieved, it is activities like volunteering, where you take yourself away from capitalism, friends, and home comforts, that you will treasure.
3) Invest time in yourself. You have you whole life to work, earn money and build a career for yourself. Get out there whilst you are young, impact the world, learn a new language, get practical international experience and then go home and hit the ground running!

Now that the project is over…

I want to work and save money; clearing student debt is a must! However, more crucially, I want to partner my skills in communication with a newly engendered understanding of developmental needs.

Volunteering has given me extraordinary life experiences, and offered me a more international mind-set that enables me to think about international development in relation to my own lifestyle and activities. I want to strive to create a career where I educate others, challenge institutions and raise global consciousness, all in the name of positive change.

Alumnus founds The Wingate School in Mexico City

Tom Wingate (Rutherford, 1978), a Kent alumnus who graduated in 1981 with a BA (Hons) in English and History & Theory of Art, will open a co-educational British International school in Mexico City in August 2016, with a second campus due to be opened in 2017.

The Wingate School, which was featured in The Telegraph, will offer a British curriculum, an attractive proposition for many of the expats in the country, many of whom have re-located to Mexico to work in the technology, oil and transport industries. Whilst 80% of the classes will be taught in British English, lessons in geography and history will be taught in Spanish.

Tom, whose favourite memories of Kent include the teaching staff and long post-exams games of football played on the hill overlooking Canterbury Cathedral, has worked in education ever since he graduated from Kent, with a swerve of one year in art insurance. ‘After my degree at Kent, I did my PGCE (English, secondary) at TASC, University of Leeds, and, later on, an MEd at Georgia State University and an MA (Victorian Studies) at Birkbeck College, University of London.’

Tom’s wife Elena, who obtained an MA in Economics from Kent in 1982, has been a diplomat for the Mexican government for many years, working as an expert economist in the trade commissions. ‘Her work has entailed our moving from place to place according to her posts, so my job has worked around hers. It has, actually, helped me develop my skills as an educator as I have had to ‘remake’ my career time and again. In the last 30 years, amongst other things, I have been a principal of a school in Atlanta and in the English Department and administration of the wonderful City of London School. I also have been lecturing at three universities here in Mexico City, one American (training teachers within an MEd) and the other two Mexican.’

Drawing upon his long career in education, Tom was inspired to set up The Wingate School, at which he will take up the role of head teacher.‘ I didn’t want to reach 83, look over my shoulder and ask ‘What if I had tried to found a school’? I’ve been in education for over 30 years, it ought to be the case that I know something by now! And you can get a bit bored working for others, frequently believing you can do an even better job’.

The school will be a family-run affair, with Tom’s son, a math’s teacher, and his daughter, an admissions and administrator coordinator, working alongside him. ‘It’s good to think that it will be in their hands one day. I hope The Wingate School will touch young lives and help form solid, educated citizens who will make a real difference in society.’