As well as being an ambassador for Inspiring the Future, I am an ambassador for Future First, a charity working to increase social mobility by building alumni communities around state schools to inspire and inform young people about their futures. I have been working closely with my contact at Future First for a few months now to try and organise a welcome return to my former secondary school - Uppingham Community College in Uppingham, Rutland.
After a few near misses, I was delighted to finally return last Wednesday, 18th October, to give a talk to Gifted and Talented students about my career as a translator, and the important differences between translating and interpreting. Around 20 students come along on a rather soggy lunchtime to hear my talk, and I was amazed to see that 19 of these students were boys! Traditionally, languages tend to be dominated by girls, so it was great to see more boys there.
I was a bit nervous to start with, but once I got going, I felt much more relaxed. I hope the students found it informative and they certainly asked some sensible questions afterwards. A few of them were even brave enough to take one of my business cards, so maybe one day I'll have an email from one of them wanting some more specific advice. UCC's head of Modern Foreign Languages was there too, and she spoke to me afterwards about the possibility of organising a translation masterclass next academic year as translation is being re-introduced to the curriculum. I would, of course, be delighted to run a masterclass or two, so I'm hoping we'll get something concrete sorted in the not-too-distant future.
While my main aim was to show these talented students that there are more options out there if you take languages further, it was also the first time I had returned to my former school since I left in 2004. It was lovely to see what had changed, and what hadn't changed. I spotted myself in a whole-school photo as a little 11 year old, as well as many of my former classmates. I also saw some members of staff – one of whom was my favourite maths teacher who was always able to explain even the most complicated of ideas clearly and with the utmost patience. He also said he still remembers my GCSE coursework over a decade down the line, so he obvisouly taught me well!
I'd certainly encourage you all to contact Future First to get in touch with your former school – it was a wonderful experience and I hope to return again soon.