Refugee turned author enthrals at Bedales


By Tess Voyle-Partington, Block 5

On Monday, Gulwali Passarlay, a former Afghan refugee who went through an extremely difficult journey to be where he is today, spoke in the theatre about his life and how he has achieved all he has, despite the barriers he faced along the way.

Gulwali began his journey as a young child in Afghanistan during the era of the Taliban. Because of the issues the Taliban presented, the country was very dangerous. In his book, The Lightless Sky, and during his talk, Gulwali explains that his mother was terrified of what would happen every time her children stepped out of the door. Even just walking to get some groceries caused worry.

To start the evening, a group of students were invited to dinner with Gulwali at Keith’s house and we were all lucky enough to have individual time with him and have a conversation before he delivered the annual Global Awareness Lecture later in the evening. During my talk with Gulwali he told me how passionate he was about the issues we are having in the UK at the moment; Brexit, young people having the vote and lots more issues he wants to raise awareness about.

After dinner, we accompanied Gulwali to the theatre,where a large number of students from the school, parents and visitors from outside of the school also attended. He began by talking about his book and going through his journey across Europe in great detail. Overall, the evening was extremely interesting and educational, notably giving many people a more in-depth insight into how refugees are treated and how we act around the controversial debate of refugees and their rights.

View Gulwali’s talk below.

Global Awareness Lecture held at Bedales


Bedales School’s annual Global Awareness Lecture was held last week and focused on the role of journalism in promoting in-depth engagement with global issues through innovative reporting and education.

Jon Sawyer, veteran foreign correspondent and director of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington DC, US, spoke passionately to the audience of students and parents about falling standards and freedom of speech.

After decades in the field, reporting from around 60 countries, he founded the non-profit Pulitzer Center to support independent reporting from around the world and to work with schools

His work has been honoured by investigative reporters and editors, the Overseas Press Club, the Inter-American Press Association, and the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Jon was selected three years in a row for the National Press Club’s prize for best foreign reporting.

Head of Global Awareness at Bedales, Annabel Smith said: “Before the lecture, Jon met with five groups of students of all ages and talked about a range of global issues from the Middle East to water rights, the upcoming US election and the future of journalism. He also spoke at length to a number of students with a special interest in print, video and photo-journalism and it was a real benefit for our students to have such one-to-one expert guidance.”

Annabel added: “Jon represents the very best traditions of reporting from the darkest corners of the world. He not only spent decades in the field, but through creating the Pulitzer Centre also ensured that a new global generation of journalists can continue this work.”

Professor Lucie Cluver captivates audience

GA lecture- Lucie Cluver

On Tuesday evening, Bedales was delighted to invite Professor Lucie Cluver to the second annual Global Awareness Lecture. A group of us, both staff and students, were lucky enough to have supper with Lucie as she spoke to us about everything from American politics to threatening her parents with a UCAS application to study hairdressing. After supper we made our way to the SLT to hear her interestingly titled lecture ‘Snakes, Gangsters and Gunfire: Using science to change AIDS policy in Africa’. We were certainly not disappointed. Lucie’s passion for helping others was conveyed clearly from the moment she started talking, taking the audience on her journey through Sub-Saharan Africa in support of her PhD. She spoke of how her research advanced into more, allowing young people in AIDS-stricken communities to get the treatment, protection and care they needed. Her lecture also included a wide range of anecdotes that captured the audience’s imagination; she recounted the moment she challenged the head of the World Bank as well as having a gun held up to her head when parking her car in the wrong place.

The evening ended with many inquisitive audience members, mainly Bedalians, quizzing Lucie on her experience in Sub-Saharan Africa, how she wishes her research to progress and how organisations like the WHO and Unicef were involving themselves in her research. Thank you very much to Lucie for her lecture as well as Annabel Smith for organising the evening; we hope next year is as successful as Tuesday night was.



Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.