Confidence, independence and global friendships: my Pamoja experience
I started studying my Diploma Programme with Pamoja two years ago. At that time, I was not a confident student; I used to hesitate to ask my teachers or classmates anything in case they thought my questions were stupid. Now, after two years of studying online with my scholarship, I’m more open with my teachers and my communication skills have improved. I’m much happier to ask questions both in and out of class, and because of that I learn a lot more.
As well as helping me gain the confidence to ask questions, learning with Pamoja has drastically improved my time management skills. I fully understand my abilities now; I know my strengths and weaknesses in each subject. One surprising thing I learnt along the way is that maths is my best subject! Through learning independently, I realised I don’t particularly need a teacher – once a mathematical concept is introduced I can figure the rest out on my own.
Online learning is particularly well suited to International Baccalaureate group 3 subjects like ITGS. When studying these subjects face-to-face in a ‘regular’ classroom environment, the resources given to you are very limited. Unlike this, Pamoja allows us the flexibility to choose our own resources. The topics are not limited by what you have in your textbook; you’re given the headings and can explore the themes in anyway that you choose to. In a face-to-face class teaching one particular topic, I might know nothing about it, whilst the person next to me may know everything. This would make the lesson a waste of time for them. With Pamoja, if you’re good at a topic you can spend less time on it, choosing to spend that time going deeper into areas that you need more work on; it’s an exceptionally efficient way to use study time.
This flexibility and independence does take some adjusting to, but as you can imagine I am well adapted to it now! I know how much time to give to each subject, how to study it, and what part of the course is best for me. For example, for ITGS the discussions are really helpful, but in languages like English and Mandarin the course content itself is of more use. Discussions are for sharing your learning with classmates, and in ITGS this is where you get a lot of content.
The highlight of my experience with Pamoja was definitely group work in ITGS. I was always assigned students that weren’t from my country – in India, Germany, Singapore etc. At first it was relatively difficult to communicate with them, but because we had the same group members each week I got to know them so much better. We made a Skype group, followed by a Whatsapp group, and have become very close. Even though I’ve never met them, we are now great friends and regularly share resources, discuss other subjects and exams. The biggest advantage of this multi-cultural set up is perspective. By living in countries all over the world, each of my classmates has a different perspective and often a different way of learning. Although time zones could occasionally be tricky – the deadlines were at 3am for us here – if anything it just meant I’d finish my work early. Occasionally online conferences were at awkward times, but they’d all be recorded so we could go back and look at them when it suited us. The fact that all lessons and conferences are recorded is something you don’t get in a face-to-face class, and is a real edge.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my Pamoja scholarship. I am now a confident, independent person with the ability to manage my time effectively, and I’m looking forward to taking these skills into the next stage of my life.
Aayisha – student at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis