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Teacher spotlight series: Bernd Widemann

Bernd Widemann
Bernd Widemann (2 posts) University Counsellor View Profile

Teacher spotlight is a series introducing our dedicated and talented Secondary School teachers. This week we hear from our University Counsellor, Bernd Widemann

After a two-year hiatus, I am extremely happy to be back in Hanoi. As a former BVIS member, I have rejoined the NAE family, continuing working with senior year students to support them with their journey towards post IB life. As the university guidance counsellor, I always propagate the idea of different pathways, rather than only the one that leads straight to university and a career. My doctrine is about finding the best fit, which of course can change throughout life.  

I also started out as an international school kid, graduating with my Abitur from the German School Lagos in Nigeria. It was a time that had a huge impact on my development and outlook, which has stayed with me all these years. My picture of my environment back then was of people who had very little in terms of physical belongings or savings, but had huge amounts of wealth in terms of joy and community – in a way, a forced minimalist lifestyle, with a lot of laughter and banter, even in difficult times. And that was imprinted in me.

During my senior school years, I didn’t have a university counsellor. The idea of best fit had never even crossed my mind, which led me to my pathway. I enrolled at university to read Social Psychology, however after the first few lectures and seminars I found out that Economics was far easier for me to understand and again with very little consultation I changed my major and three years later graduated as an ‘economist’. Having been focused and interested mainly in the labour and development side of  economics, I continued with a masters in Environment, Development and Policy, which again had an impact on my outlook: focusing on micro changes on the grassroots level.  

With my newly developed outlook I founded a charity that built a computer centre for a school in Nigeria and simultaneously worked in the Registry at UCL, supporting prospective and current students. The charity stayed grassroots, and the new generations of students are still enjoying IT lessons. The project was the start of my journey in supporting young people in finding and developing into what they dream to be. After six years of running the charity and supporting UCL students I decided it was time for newer pastures, which led me to the beautiful Vietnam.  

Arriving in Hanoi and taking a break from education, I discovered the immense creativity and entrepreneurship, which I had experienced growing up in Lagos. I got to meet numerous friends, many of whom had taken different pathways, but all arriving at a point in their life they could enjoy. At this point I was given the opportunity to set up the University Counselling department at BVIS and I have loved my counselling role ever since. I also had the amazing chance to support students in Beijing, getting to experience even more different outlooks and pathways, before coming back to Hanoi. 

University Bets Fit Pathway

And this is where my journey culminates. It has shaped my educational and professional outlook and philosophy. Coming across countless successful people, who decided to take their own pathways has been a reminder about what matters and how to go about achieving it. There just isn’t one way, no magical formula. Education has been a common denominator with all of the pathways I have come across. However, the education pathway can, or even should look different for each person. It should be the best fit – best fit in what type of education and when to pursue it. But most importantly it has been the opportunities, and how they have been utilized, that have mattered. It is one thing to get education, but a completely different thing in how to use it.  

One’s passion can change, potentially changing one’s pathway. But the most important aspect I aim for students to find, is what they really enjoy at this point of their journey.