See My Story - Samm Pecht

Gateway College Negombo is more than a school to me; it is now a part of my history. My family is leaving Sri Lanka and so I must leave Gateway College Negombo, but I do so with a very heavy heart.

Three and a half years ago, my parents told us we were going to move to Sri Lanka because my dad had a project with the Water Board in Negombo. They also told my brother and me that we would be going to school. I had never been to school before. I was homeschooled. I was scared. A new country, a new culture and also school! I shouldn’t have worried at all.

From day one, Gateway College Negombo made me feel at home. Our family is a very tight unit but Gateway College Negombo gave me the support and self-assurance I needed to not only adjust to a new country, culture and school with ease, but to also thrive.

My geography teacher and my last two homeroom teachers have encouraged me to participate in the Model UN, helped me to accomplish my academic goals and set new goals to achieve. The Headmistress encouraged me to write essays for the Commonwealth Essay competition, the world’s oldest and largest, youth writing competition, and I have received awards all the years I’ve entered.

Over 5 thousand young people from around the Commonwealth took part in the 2010 competition. It was very exciting that I won, but it was even more exciting that I, the Top Junior Winner, was flown across the world to London for a week of events including an interview at BBC, workshops with professional writers and tours of Oxford, the House of Parliament, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Westminster Abbey culminating in a Gala Awards Dinner at the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Then, the next year, in 2011 when the Royal Commonwealth Society received over 6 thousand entrees, I out of six top entrants in my category, won a Special Award. This was even more memorable as it is very rare for an entrant to win two years running.

But it’s the time and attention the faculty invested in me that have already made a difference in my life. Yes, I have done well in my studies and have earned several awards, but something much more valuable has been given to me; and that is self-confidence.

The experiences, the friendship and the knowledge that I gained at Gateway College Negombo can never be taken away from me. It is my first school. It is a school that encouraged me academically while helping me learn about an exciting and wonderful new culture and country. And it is a school that included me, an American/ Dutch girl, as a member of the Gateway family.