Jefta Timmer was only 10 years old when she moved from her home in the Netherlands to India with her family. While she knew she would be leaving behind her old home, her childhood friends and her favourite foods, she had no idea that she would also be leaving behind her old perspective of the world forever.
“Growing up, I had only known life in the Netherlands,” she said.
“Everyone around me had always had access to quality education and good health services. Boys and girls were treated equally. But when I moved to India I saw something different. I saw three year old children beg by my car window when driving to school, I saw women oppressed by men and treated differently, I saw how families bathed in a polluted river next to their houses built out of trash, while on the other side of the river, people enjoyed a breakfast buffet in a five-star resort.”
Now 17 years old, Jefta has gained a much broader and more empathetic perspective of the world. As a Year 12 student at our sister school, Prague British International School (PBIS), she has taken a more active role in promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in her school.
“These experiences opened my eyes to the reality of the world,” Jefta said.
“I saw first-hand the truly horrendous state of some people’s lives and the environment they live in. It’s easy to read about these things in the news, or hear about it from friends, but to see it first hand, that’s when it truly hits you: the world needs to change. This is why it’s so important for our school community to get involved with achieving the SDGs.”
The SDGs are a concept that many people are not familiar with, but for BIS Abu Dhabi and fellow Nord Anglia Education (NAE) students, the SDGs are something that’s lived and breathed.
Essentially, they are a blueprint for building a better future. There are a total of 17 individual challenges across the globe for United Nations member countries to overcome by 2030, including poverty, inequality, hunger, environmental degradation, and peace and justice. For Jefta, it is vitally important that she helps play a part to achieve these goals to make our world a better place.
Like Jefta, NAE students of all ages around the world cooperate and join their minds together to create solutions to troubling issues that others face on a daily basis, such as a lack of basic resources. NAE students work towards building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future for people and the planet, while also learning skills along the way at school such as global-awareness and cooperation. Jefta believes these are important attributes for an international student to know.
This year, NAE students are focusing on goal four, Quality Education, and goal 16, Peace, Justice and strong Institutions. At the PBIS, students from its three different campuses have come up with ideas and actions to move towards achieving these two goals. Jefta and her fellow Global Goals Ambassadors are now hard at work considering creative ideas, choosing the best ones and work towards making our ideas a reality.
Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist for female education, once said that one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Inspired by this sentiment, Jefta encourages others to get to work on the SDGs. “So step up,” she said, “take action, and help change the world.”
All Nord Anglia students are empowered to make a difference and to positively impact the world. Through our collaboration with UNICEF, students participate in meaningful activities like the SDGs to effect change in their schools and communities at large.
It’s all about inspiring students to think about issues affecting their communities and the whole world. We’re looking forward to how our schools will be raising awareness and getting involved further throughout the year.