I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with both the Marshal Papworth Fund Masters students and the 10-week Short Course students this year. Through getting to know them, I have begun to understand the difference a Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship can mean to both the individual who comes to the UK to study and to their homes communities.
One thing I learned from the students is that they are prepared to make a number of huge sacrifices in order to better themselves and better their country. The majority of Marshal Papworth Fund students come from very rural areas; they have never left the village they grew up in, let alone flown in an aeroplane to a different continent. However the thing that struck me is their preparedness to leave their families behind for up to a year in the hope that the knowledge and skills gained will make a difference.
One of our long course students has been away from home for over a year and has not yet seen his daughter, who was born just after he left his home in Uganda. His wife has had to manage without him and has looked after two young children in his absence. On completion of his course last week he told me that he had learned far more than he was expecting and is now one of the leading soil experts in his country. Perhaps his most rewarding comment was that the Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship was totally transparent throughout the application process and awarded on merit, unlike many other scholarships available in country. He will now use the skills, knowledge and experience gained in the UK to help rural farmers throughout his region of Uganda.
It has been a pleasure to watch the students adapt to the ways of the UK and embrace the courses they have selected. It has been fantastic to see each student further their agricultural understanding, but also to see them come to terms with using technology we take for granted daily, such as the London underground.
It has been sad to say goodbye to this year’s students, they have been great fun to be around. I have learnt so much about their cultures and now understand how much a Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship means to our ‘family’ of students. They all have an interesting story to tell, all determined to make the most of the experience and to make a difference when they go home. I would like to tell each student “it has been a pleasure to get to know you”.