Just like in any sport, the winning formula for success is a great team. We have been fortunate once again in recruiting not just the best talent for our summer schools this year, but also that our volunteers have worked so well together.
What you don’t see is the work backstage. The whatsapp groups full of teaching tips and positive encouragements from volunteers in the States, in Sierra Leone, in the UK, in Thailand, in Uganda, in Brussels, from Australia and Hong Kong. Words of support mean everything when you are on the ground trying to figure out how to make every minute count for your students.
This is what I am most proud of: the team spirit, the collegiality between people who have never met but share the same vision; the friendships that have been built and that will carry on long after our professors have left the country.
So how to select a winning team? I believe that our mission, to inspire, educate and empower students around the world already attract a certain type of person. That makes my work a little easier. We have several dozen applications for each teacher that was selected, and it was often difficult to turn down someone who I know would inspire our students. That’s also why we need to expand – we have the talent, let’s utilize it and benefit the maximum number of teachers.
However, among our dedicated volunteers, you will find a senior member of the British women’s fencing team – Philippa knows how to attack and parry, anticipate and react, she is competitive and is finishing her PhD at the London School of Economics. Dr Joanne Yao teaches at Durham, has a CV that reads like a menu of top schools worldwide – University of Chicago, John Hopkins, London School of Economics – not to mention her professional experience as a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and her work at CARE International in Tbilisi, Georgia. A PhD is not required to be an amazing teacher. Till has been a founding member and Director of Operations of MBJ London, a successful website-building company. He has volunteered as a Business Consultant for entrepreneurs in Uganda and is a talented filmmaker who shares our vision for empowering students through a hands-on can-do education. I could go on for each of our amazing team-members.
So my diagnostic for 2017? We had great individuals who worked beautifully in their teams. And while they did a wonderful job engaging with the students and sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge throughout the summer, I was personally inspired by their dedication to each other.
Thank you team!