Title ID 8601Collection ID799
TitleAlumni Reunion
Date5 September 2009
Genre/TypeAmateurIndependent Artist/Film-makerInstitutionalNon-fictionActuality/Factual
KeywordsCharities Commemorative Events Oral History
RegionalEast Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionPestalozzi International Village Trust
ParticipantsPam Thomas (interviewer)
FormatColour Sound
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Unedited footage from the Pestalozzi alumni reunion of 2009. The film includes a number of in-depth interviews with former students from Pestalozzi, including people who were part of the original intake at the village in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


The film opens with shots of people chatting and eating food in the refectory at the Pestalozzi village. Outside, members of the group have gathered on a patio, others slowly file out from the hall. People in the group continue to chat to one another; a photographer takes photographs as people queue up for food.

A man appears in front of the camera and he answers a number of questions, posed to him by Pam Thomas, about his involvement with Pestalozzi and his reason for returning to Pestalozzi for the reunion. He also talks about the lack of communication between Pestalozzi and the families of the children staying at the village during his time there. Another man is seen preparing to be interviewed. 'George', a former student and house master. He talks about being in the first group who came to the village in 1961 after it was founded and how it has impacted upon his life. A third man talks about his involvement with Pestalozzi and how he used to visit during the 1980s. The man talks at length about immigration. His friend joins him and talks about how he arrived at the village from a Palestinian camp in 1977. He talks about the impact on children of being taken away from their families and how they were expected to be 'grown-ups' at such a young age. They go onto talk about how their time at Pestalozzi influenced their future career choices and their vision for the future of the Pestalozzi village. They reflect on how the village no longer seems as lively and question whether the Pestalozzi ideals of 'head, hands and heart' are being lived out in the village still.

Two women, one Armenian, the other Polish talk about how they came to to the village from displaced persons camps in Germany in 1960 and 1961. They describe the village as being like "paradise" compared to where they had come from. They talk about their travel documents from the time bearing the description "homeless foreigner" and the impact this had on them and the lack of sense of belonging. At Pestalozzi they were given a new sense of belonging. They continue to discuss the impact of the the Second World War on their parents and their families. The lady originally from Armenia talks about how she has been married to a German man for 40 years and how her love for him and her half German children has helped her overcome her former hatred for the German people. The Polish lady takes over and talks about the original Pestalozzi 'experiment' and how conflict existed between staff and those in charge. After Dr. Alexander left, the woman explains how the policy changed and the new staff had not considered the future for the Pestalozzi children from the original intake after they had spent their time at the village. A man joins the two ladies and talks about how he came to Pestalozzi in 1959 from a displaced persons camp in Germany. He attended school at Claverham and explains how they were taught English, one of the other lady joins in and discuses how she was taught English at the village before going to the local school. They go on to talk about how the Pestalozzi children excelled at sports and won many competitions. The man talks about how he is an industrial designer and that he learnt the roots of his skills at the Pestalozzi village. The group talks about the impact of the reunions and how it is valuable for the Europeans, especially as there was a sense in the past that the Europeans had been "swept under the carpet". One of the women explains that there was never a photo of the group on display when they came for a visit to the village. Pam Thomas explains about the Pestalozzi archive project. One of the women explains at length how the various ex-students were reached to inform them about the reunion.

The film cuts abruptly to sounds of people talking. Pam Thomas is now seen interviewing a young woman who came to Pestalozzi in 1998 from Zambia. The woman was in the second International Baccalaureate (IB) group. She talks about meeting other people from other cultures and her studies and work after Pestalozzi. She now works in the UK but tries to return to Zambia every one to two years. They discuss the changes to Pestalozzi. The film ends abruptly after the interview.