British Council's International Student Awards
As you may have read in the Spring 2010 GA Magazine, Gordonstoun has entered seven students for the British Council's International Student Awards. The award is open to all international students (from schools, colleges and universities) studying on a full-time course in the UK. Competition is high! Candidates have to write a letter, as if they were writing to someone back home. It has to be written in English, explaining how they are making the most of their time in the UK and what they have achieved.
The GA is pleased to announce that Tasha Keswani's entry won the Scottish Regional Award and she will now go on to compete for the UK Award, her letter can be read below:
Dear Grandpa (respectfully and lovingly known as Nanu),
August 25th 2008, was a day of significance for me for many reasons. Firstly I was starting a new life half way across the globe in a boarding school in Scotland (Gordonstoun) and secondly this very day a week earlier (August 18th, 2008) I lost you - the one person who had encouraged and supported this decision through thick and thin. Your sudden death caught me by surprise and there isn't a day that goes by with me not wishing you were here with me every step of the way witnessing the change and the impact this decision has had on me.
After coming to the UK I have realised that my dreams are no longer just dreams, but a reality. My prolonged (11 year) vision of wanting to accomplish wonders in music was achieved within a month in the UK. I recorded my first CD on September 10th, 2008. It was a moment of great pride and satisfaction and little did I know that that was only the beginning of my very eventful and exciting journey. This was followed by great appreciation amongst the listeners' and I created another one, developing a mini profession. Further, gaining the confidence that I always needed (and quickly acquired in this encouraging environment) I auditioned for and was chosen to sing in front of the Queen of England! How cool is that Nanu! However, due to the swine flu scandal in Scotland she cancelled her visit to school. Obtaining the optimistic attitude of my British friends I wasn't too upset over this sudden change in plans and I am determined to sing for her in the future. I can and I know I will!
My experiences in the UK are unimaginable. I had a week long adventure sailing on Ocean Spirit – Gordonstoun's 60 foot long boat - tackling the Neptune staircase and experiencing the rough sea around the Isle of Sky. As you can imagine, it was an inexplicable experience. It taught me the importance of teamwork and the ability to function in temperatures below freezing. Further, as part of the school curriculum I went on two expeditions in the Scottish hills. You would be so proud of me! I am proud of me; I can't believe I managed 6 days camping in the Scottish hills in winter! I can now battle any weather however bitter. Moreover Gordonstoun has taught me the art of not complaining and getting on with things.
One of the most useful skills Gordonstoun has given to me is the idea of giving back to the community. I am an active member of the Schools Conservation service where we protect our surrounding environment. We were rewarded for our efforts by many reputed environmental organisations.
I now feel like a butterfly metamorphosed from a caterpillar. With the freedom and opportunity, I have gained wings that have taken me places and have helped me achieve, what I thought was 'impossible'! 'Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small people' – something you always told me! Immediately after playing against the Scottish women's tennis team I thought of you. How you would have loved to see me play! I remember you always told me that once I come to the UK wonderful things would happen to me and that I would get the recognition I deserved. Well, you were right and I am going to take this opportunity to apologise to you for ever doubting your wise words, for whatever it is worth.
Not only were my skills recognised, I also discovered new skills! I was chosen to be House Captain of my boarding house where I looked after 63 girls – one thing's for sure I will never have difficulty raising children of my own after this experience! On a more serious note, it taught me how to deal with situations pragmatically. I feel it will help me face any problem with ease. I know I must sound like a completely different person to what you have seen me as! Apart from the fact that I still have my values and my culture intact I AM really a changed individual. I believe I have changed for the better! Mum and Dad say that too!
Lastly, something I consider to be my greatest achievement is that I have had the opportunity to teach my British friends my way of life and widening their knowledge of the world helping them realise how different life is back home, in India. One thing they just can't understand is how we are not allowed to drink alcohol before we are 18 they find it absolutely shocking but at the same time they respect me for sticking to it and not breaking the rule. That is what I love about them! They understand me. In return for my knowledge they have helped me to understand their ways of life which I find absolutely fascinating and I aspire to acquire some qualities as mentioned earlier in the letter.
I just want to thank you profusely for encouraging me to go ahead with my decision of coming to the UK. I love who I am now, and I yearn to continue my education in the UK. I have already got an offer from Edinburgh! So fingers crossed. For the last time I miss you, I wish you were here with me.
An article about Tasha's winning the Scottish Award appeared in The Press & Journal titled 'Gordonstoun Girl Scoops International Student Award'.