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When former UNIS Hanoi student Annie Gainsborough decided she needed to take time out before launching her fledgling career, the first stop in her travels was to the place that shaped her life’s purpose - UNIS Hanoi.
British citizen, Annie was just 11 years old when she was a student at the School, back in 2005. Although a student for just one academic year, Annie recalls it was a year that forever changed who she was and how she saw the world.
She said, “I remember my year at UNIS Hanoi as being one of the happiest years of my life. I loved that the School celebrated our differences yet through our everyday experiences and friendships, we also found that we were all so similar. UNIS Hanoi united us, however short our time at the School was.”
Yet it wasn’t just the people that left an indelible mark on Annie, it was the School’s service programme.
She revealed, “UNIS Hanoi was the first place I really became involved in volunteering and service, and I loved it! I’ve continued volunteering ever since and in fact, it was my work outside of school that helped me secure my position as the Activities Officer at Sheffield University. In that role, I’ve encouraged students to make time for co-curricular activities, hobbies and service.
“I’ve also had the opportunity to campaign for more international students in the UK. I’m passionate about this issue because, as a former UNIS Hanoi student, I don’t see the point in the artificial barrier created between home students and international students here in the UK.
“At Sheffield we launched a campaign entitled #WeAreInternational which tries to highlight the value of international students and cultural integration, and to bring people together in a world so often divided. Because of my time at UNIS Hanoi, this campaign is something I feel that I really embody. I may have been classified as a 'home' student while I studied at Sheffield University but I have had international experiences which have really shaped who I am, because at UNIS Hanoi #WeAreInternational.”
Annie was delighted to reconnect with her former teachers during her return trip, including Colin Campbell [pictured above] who like Annie has pursued a passion for Service Learning since he taught her in Grade 6 and is now the MSHS Service Learning Coordinator.
As Annie continues with her expedition around the globe, she’s not sure exactly what role she’s going to pursue next when she returns to the UK. But one thing is for sure, it will involve service to others and giving a voice to minorities.