Laidlaw Scholarship Reflective Piece
I am Holly and I study German and English Literature at the University of Leeds. I will be working on the research project 'German at Leeds - Then and Now' as I am passionate about language teaching and language learning. I am specifically interested in developing strategies to decolonise language teaching through diversifying the curriculum of German Studies, which I hope to achieve through researching the history of German teaching at my university. I will look at how key moments of crisis in the twentieth century, such as WWI and WWII, in which Britain were in conflict with Germany, affected language teaching and the study of German at Leeds. I hope that this will help me identify how language teaching is affected by global events and political relations between countries in order to develop strategies to decolonise language teaching in the future.
I work as a German Ambassador for the Goethe Institute to help foster interest in the German language globally and nationally. As part of my role, I visit schools all over the country to encourage students to learn German and educate them on the career opportunities open to students with a foreign language in order to help them to navigate their futures.
I am committed to making a change to our community. Recently I took part in a decolonisation project in collaboration with the Goethe Institute and the Design Thinkers Academy in Amsterdam. I was the only student members of the team and I was working with teachers from all over the world and members of Goethe Institute Finland and Sweden. The target of the project was to develop resources to decolonise the curriculum to make German teaching more inclusive of queer people and people of colour. This required great ambition to come up with a solution to make German teaching more inclusive. I conducted interviews with fellow students, prioritising BAME students and members from the trans community to discover their experience of language learning. I am committed to ethical leadership as I believe all people deserve to feel seen and valued in their education.
As part of my commitment to diversifying our curriculum, A few years ago, I took part in a public speaking competition where I spoke about how we need to change our attitude to neurodiversity in young adults and children, encouraging a change in understanding and a re-education regarding mental health conditions and learning disabilities in young people. This approach required great courage and commitment as I had to question our current curriculum and seek to find new and improved strategies to better accommodate and understand neurodiversity, a topic which is often ignored especially in the early years of child education. This required great courage and extraordinary research as I was determined to develop an understanding of not only current issues in the understanding of neurodiversity in children and young adults but also foster new ideas to address these.
Furthermore, I believe the best research is that which is challenging and seeks to find new and innovative strategies to overcome obstacles and improve society. I am dedicated to improving the lives of young people. In secondary school I worked as head of the Media Team. I helped to direct my team towards different strategies to encourage young people to develop an interest in journalism, visiting primary schools to educate younger students about career prospects in journalism. I saw how this leadership positively impacted the lives of young people, as throughout the several workshops we ran across primary schools in our local community, we saw how younger students were becoming enthusiastic about their futures, as they became aware of the fantastic opportunities available to them. This experience has really inspired me to apply for a Laidlaw Scholarship as I have seen how strong leadership can engage and inspire, transforming our community. I hope to foster my leadership skills throughout the scholarship, as throughout my education I have experienced how positive leadership can transform lives.
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