Could you please introduce yourself and share some information about your life journey (nationality, where you grew up, family, passions, etc)? My name is Pia Tiwari, and I am a third-year international relations and social anthropology student at the University of St Andrews. My family is Indian, but I have grown up across several countries including India, England, Singapore (where I am right now!), and Switzerland. I am especially passionate about learning languages, and am working on my Mandarin and Persian.

Could you tell us more about your time at ISL? I joined the school midway through Year 10 and stayed until I graduated in 2019. Throughout my time there, I wrote for The High, which I fondly remember as a wonderful bonding experience and helpful writing exercise. In Year 13, I also had the pleasure of being part of the LGBTQ+ Alliance and speaking in our Pride Day assembly as well as participating in the annual Diploma art exhibition.

What’s your favourite memory to share from your time at ISL? Perhaps the most memorable experiences I had were the school trips to Poland and Tanzania. They gave me the opportunity to experience two incredible cultures which were vastly unfamiliar to me, and I continue to reflect on the horrors of Auschwitz and the stunning landscapes around Arusha. Another beloved ISL memory has to be International Day each year. The prospect of free food from across the world is truly enough to make me want to go back to school!

What did ISL teach you for the future? The phenomenal teaching, particularly in my Diploma experience, made my transition to university work very easy, and given my subjects’ focus on ontology and epistemology, my familiarity with them through Theory of Knowledge was instrumental. I am grateful for the treasured memories, friendships, and exposure to different ways of life that the school provided.

Could you please explain your University of St Andrews experience? My St Andrews experience has exceeded all my expectations, and I can’t believe I am halfway through my degree already! I am in love with the beauty of the town, its numerous traditions, and the abundance of balls and ceilidhs during non-pandemic times. The flexible degree structure has allowed me to explore subjects I have never learnt before, and taking classes in English, Persian, and economics has broadened my knowledge and allowed me to meet amazing new people. I am also happily a part of several political societies such as the United Nations Association, and have developed new interests including archery and ballroom dancing. In addition to that, I am greatly looking forward to studying abroad in Beijing for a semester next year!

Could you describe the award you received? The Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholarship is a two-year programme that runs across many universities globally, including St Andrews. It includes one summer of research into a topic of our choosing, one summer of a leadership development project, and leadership training throughout the two years, with the aim of creating the next generation of leaders across our chosen fields.

What opportunities does this award give you? The Laidlaw scholarship has given me the fantastic opportunity to conduct funded research into the key motivators and impacts of English-language voluntourism in Tanzania, an idea which was not only instigated by my participation in the Tanzania trip, but with which the ISL community continues to assist me immensely. It has also introduced me to a network of likeminded people with whom I am thoroughly enjoying connecting, and incredible leadership training that has already transformed how I view myself and others.

What are your ambitions for the future? I hope to continue my education after graduation, but truthfully, I have yet to decide what I would like my future to entail. However, I am extremely passionate about decolonisation and decoloniality, and I wholeheartedly intend to work towards them, whether through an academic career in either of my disciplines, or perhaps as part of an international organization. Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to learn more about anything I mention above, or if you would just like to chat!

Gradient Issue #2: The magazine of the International School of Lausanne

In this edition, we explore how our community has coped during this special year to make the best of it. We also have a special section on multilingualism and how it can both benefit and challenge our students.