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Alice is in the second year of her IBDP and is studying Philosophy with us. She is also a Pamoja Ambassador and an active member of our Global Student Council.

Tell us a bit about your online learning experience.

I learned about Pamoja when I was picking my IBDP classes. When I saw Pamoja had a Philosophy course I knew I had to take it, and the rest is history!

Why did you decide to study online?

A mix of different reasons…plus a little voice in my head that thought “well, why not?”. I wanted to learn Philosophy, and with this course I would also get to interact with people from all around the world in an academic setting. The schedule was really flexible, and I knew that amazing people worked there. So…why not?

What subjects or modules have you most enjoyed learning about?

I was actually asked this during a college interview, and I answered “Sartre’s existentialism”. It’s basically Jean-Paul Sartre’s life philosophy and it had a large following after WWII. One of its main tenets is that there are no universal principles, no blueprints to how you should live your life. Instead, in the face of an abundance of freedom, one should be able to make choices which generate ‘meaning’. I found this message interesting because it runs counter to the idea that we are born with a predetermined purpose, as well as raising questions about what creating ‘meaning’ entails.

What have been the highlights from your Pamoja course?

I became close friends with another girl from my class. We were grouped up for an exercise where we analysed essays in pairs, and further bonded over recreationally reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (I found it insufferably long but she loved it!)

I also remember a number of conversations with my first philosophy teacher. Those were enlightening, to say the very least. He made me realise my flaws as a student and continuously challenged my class to re-examine what it means to be ‘doing philosophy’. One of our last conversations was about a pilgrimage he took along the Camino de Santiago. I don’t remember exactly what it was we talked about, but I do remember the feeling that there was so much of the world and that this was a teacher who made me excited to see it.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced studying online? How have you overcome these?

Having nobody that was holding me accountable for my actions (or lack thereof) the way there would be in a physical classroom. There was my SBC (site-based coordinator) but, of course, he wasn’t checking up on us all the time so it was my responsibility not to neglect my studies when my schedule was really hectic.

When this happened, it was incredibly important to me that I had a clear line of communication with my Pamoja teacher. It reminded me that there was someone besides myself to whom I had a responsibility. Additionally, I could get extra help from my Pamoja teacher if I was falling behind.

What do you enjoy about online learning with Pamoja?

The amazing community of people! This sounds a bit quaint, but I also really enjoy reading the set texts.

How has your Pamoja teacher supported your learning?

Both my philosophy teachers give detailed feedback, are always quick to offer help when it’s needed, and are reasonably flexible with submission deadlines. What’s more, the biggest impression they’ve left on me is from their behaviour. Dedicated, patient enough to meet you where you are, and wildly intelligent, I am very grateful for my teachers: Mr James Sorrell and Mr Ignatio Hernandez.

How do you hope that your online learning experience will support your future?

I’m eyeing a PPE (politics, philosophy, and economics) major so I’m hoping my course will give me the prerequisite skills to thoroughly tackle this discipline!

What advice would you give to a student who is considering taking a Pamoja course?

Try to work for at least four 40-minute sessions per week. Spread out your work across the week, too – not just on Saturday and Sunday.

Finally: sum up your Pamoja experience in three words!

Unexpected. Challenging. Fulfilling.

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