The US ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, joined Year 11 students to celebrate their final day of formal education at the Anglo European School, a co-operative school in Essex, before examinations begin in earnest.
He joined students to open the new Humanities Block, which houses the History, Politics and Citizenship Departments; subjects which Ambassador Barzun was keen to discuss with students in their final assembly. During his interactive speech, he challenged the Year 11s to consider their own perceptions of America, its history and foreign policy. Students had the chance to question the ambassador directly on issues such as climate change, gun law, Britain’s place in the European Union, the current Presidential elections and the US’s approach to education, homelessness and health care. They were also fascinated to hear of his work on President Obama’s historic election campaign and what impact the President’s tenure has had on the American people. The event was broadcast on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show where journalist Simon Dedman posed further questions raised by the students during an interview with the ambassador.
Headteacher Jody Gee said: “This was a fitting climax to our students’ distinctive education and farewell celebrations; students had their preconceived ideas challenged, their views on America’s intervention policies explored openly and were able to share their own political views on what the future global agenda should be.”
Ashley Fearn, Head Girl, said: “As I am a global politics student and aspiring to work or study in America when I am older, having Mr Barzun greet the school with such kind words and sagacity was an experience I will never forget. Something he stated which has made a profound impact on me is ‘I don’t know whether you realise, but the feeling of nerves is exactly the same as the feeling of excitement, so channel that excitement into everything that makes you nervous’ and I intend to carry that pearl of wisdom with me every day for the rest of my life. Thank you Mr Barzun.”