Forging friendships

“Whilst there are some irksome aspects to school, I think you will find to your eventual delight that the experience has broadened your horizons.”

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles 2016

Whilst it seems like yesterday, thirty years ago I spent a year in Minnesota as an exchange student. Last weekend, thanks to the wonders of social media, my fellow exchangees caught up with me. Decades down the line, the personalities haven’t changed that much even if the hair (or lack of it) has. Sadly there are pictures and no I won’t be sharing.

In many ways that year abroad was a formative experience. It probably galvanized my desire to be a teacher and it opened my eyes to the world. As a group we met during the year to share our experiences and benefit from simply being together. It was in a time before the internet so we put on shows, reviews, played games and generally had a good time in each other’s company. It was a privilege to find out more not only about the US, but about other places, other ways of doing things, other ways of seeing. We finished the year with two extended trips where these friendships were reinforced and then we left. Whilst I carried memories, I didn’t keep in touch. So it is really a privilege to have the opportunity to connect once more. Much of this week’s comment has been about the South African Elections and the value of democracy. Great to have a report from the polling station, an Aussie view and a Finnish perspective. The learning hasn’t stopped.

At the BSP my cherished experience of thirty years ago is so commonplace that it hardly merits a mention. With fifty six nationalities on campus every single class is a crucible for discussion and has the potential to influence thinking far beyond the confines of the classroom. This is one of the most important elements of our education. It forces perspectives to be wide; our daily life promotes global understanding. Last weekend I had the great privilege of accompanying some of our musicians to The Hague for a music festival; they performed with distinction and I was a very proud Headmaster. A quartet with representatives from Russia, The Netherlands, France and Italy meeting with players from Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Romania to name but a few of the other nations represented. Whilst the competition element was great perhaps more impressive was the ease with which all of the students mixed and enjoyed spending time together. Being a witness to such easy interaction and such fruitful communication gives me hope.

Some communication requires no words. Music is an important part of life here at the BSP and it was pure pleasure to hear our jazz band in full flight on Tuesday. Congratulations are due to Mr. Lockwood and all of his jazz messengers who demonstrated what can be achieved when the bar is raised and young people are pushed to excellence. It all looked so easy, a guarantee that there has been a massive amount of hard work in the background! Congratulations to Louie, Matthew and Cat who took their first solos this year and hats off to Freddie for holding the stage with his one man show!

A four day week in which we have crammed in five days of activity. Tonight we recognise the achievements of our sports players at the Senior Sports Dinner. It promises to be another evening of well-earned celebration. Be it music, sport or study this is where lifelong bonds of friendship are forged.

Nicholas Hammond