Students from the Anglo European School were once again invited to attend the Annual Presentation on Asia for Sixth Form Students at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London. Kathryn Bragg, Psychology teacher said “We were treated to an impressive range of speakers including an ambassador and a former Royal Marine turned medical student, amongst others. By far the most topical speaker was Con Coughlin, the defense correspondent at the Daily Telegraph, whose talk was entitled, ‘Can the West defeat the Islamic State?’ He was able to take us back hundreds of years in the history of the Middle East to trace political, religious and social developments in the region that have led to the current situation of factional conflict and instability. He has been both a soldier and a journalist in the Middle East and believes that IS/Da’esh can be defeated by a united international effort.”
Jon Anderson, another former soldier, joined the Royal Marines after completing his BA in History and Philosophy. He took his experiences of war and conflict and has transformed them into a vehicle for healing and rebuilding. Now in his final year of medicine at Southampton, he took the opportunity to do his elective placements in Afghanistan and Palestine. He shared with us his thoughts on the challenges of military intervention in unfamiliar cultures and how differently he is welcomed as a foreign doctor, rather than a soldier.
We also discovered that Indonesia is made up of over 10,000 islands, has over 500 different languages and is the fourth most populous nation in the world. The founder of the Karen Hill Tribes Trust, a charity that supports indigenous groups in the north of Thailand, told us how communities can be strengthened and made sustainable by support that is developed in partnership with the communities it aims to help. The charity supports the Karen communities by providing the planning and materials for projects they have requested, such as permanent sources of fresh water that they are able to build and maintain as a community. We also heard talks by a member of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and a curator from the British Museum, both of whom were inspiring in the their passion and fascination with Asian culture and history.
It was a truly brilliant day where we were privileged to have a glimpse into the lives of people who have immersed themselves in careers that have taken them to Asia and back, and then back again for more.