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Hopes and dreams

To encourage students to reach for their dreams, tempering them with reality (SEAL theme: motivation).

by James Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5

Aims

To encourage students to reach for their dreams, tempering them with reality (SEAL theme: motivation).

Preparation and materials

  • You could download pictures of the various ‘celebrities’ and people mentioned in the assembly (see below).
  • You will need a leader plus five students to read the various stories.

Assembly

Reader 1 My name is Bob Crowe. When I was younger, I always wanted to be a professional footballer or, failing that, a football manager. I wasn’t good enough at football, though, so, when I left school, I joined the railways. I got involved in the union and here I am, years later, General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers and a member of the General Council of the TUC. It’s a long way from being in football, but I feel that my life has great purpose as I support and speak up for the members, guarding their rights and lives.

Reader 2 My name is Michel Roux Jr. I was born in Britain, but am half French, and come from a family of chefs and restaurateurs of high standing. I always wanted to be a chef, so I left school at 16 and served as an apprentice – often not in the family businesses and sometimes stepping down a rung on the career ladder to work for a particular chef. I now have my own 2-star restaurant and you may have seen me on TV, on Professional Masterchef and other programmes.

Reader 3 My name is Jessica Jones. When I was a child, I was a very committed Christian and dreamed of being a missionary, but, when I was a teenager, I realized teaching was more reliable. So, for many years, I was a secondary science teacher. I then trained to become one of the first women priests in the Church of England and, later on, left parish ministry to write and train other ministers. It’s been a strange journey!

Reader 4 My name is Samira. I have always wanted to be an actor and managed to get a place at a drama college after school. I have a degree in musical theatre, but, since graduating, I’ve only worked from time to time, mainly for expenses only. The rest of the time I work in a call centre, but I’m hanging on in there!

Reader 5 I write this in my one-room apartment near Omika station in Hitachi, Japan. I've been here for one year now. The Japanese language is extremely difficult for a Westerner to grasp, written in two phonetic alphabets and adapted Chinese characters. The culture is famously insular and difficult for a foreigner to understand. Yet, it is a beautiful country, populated by helpful and kind people and grounded on an extraordinarily successful economy.

Some 3.4 million British people live outside the UK. While many of them are pensioners, enjoying their retirement in the sun in Spain or Portugal, a growing number of them are young people, particularly university graduates. Some 15 per cent of British graduates live abroad. There are many reasons for this. The first is that many graduates want to see the world and learn new skills in a different country before returning home to take up well-paid graduate careers.

The second reason is more worrying. It is no secret that youth unemployment in the UK is very high and graduate employment has not yet recovered from the economic downturn. With graduates facing dwindling job prospects, as well as an ocean of debt, many seek well-paid work in other countries. In China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, there is a huge demand for native English speakers to work as teachers and this profession attracts many. I have met many Irish emigrés who left because of the severe economic problems in their country. While life is good in Asia, this situation poses political problems for the UK as, having been educated at taxpayers’ expense in the UK, the economic benefit of their work is now going to Japan.

It's a good life in that the work is interesting and lucrative, the international socializing is fun and they can go to Tokyo whenever they want. Yet, living on the other side of the world has its disadvantages, too. For example, despite the ease of international communication via Facebook and Skype, friendships can begin to wither. It is much easier to maintain a friendship if the other person can be reached at any time and you can talk face-to-face. Living as an immigrant has some very stressful moments, particularly when you need to get a new work permit. Being an immigrant, even in this very cushioned and sheltered form, makes you realize how difficult many economic migrants have it.

When I graduated from university two years ago, I honestly had no idea that I'd end up here. After graduating, I was lucky enough to be offered a job as a language assistant in France, but I always thought I'd be working either in a glass and mahogany office somewhere in London or still at the university library. I ended up here because there was little work for me back home. It seems to have worked out. I enjoy my life here. In most situations, there are some good points and some bad points. Happiness comes in making the best of the situation in which you find yourself.

Leader Some very different stories, all based on real people. I wonder what your hopes and dreams are for your working life? Are they realistic – how hard are you going to have to fight for the career that you want? Do you have the talent to compete in your chosen field?

Will you have to work for nothing in that area to get started?

How important is it to have a degree – or not?

Reader 1 I’m amazed where my life took me. I just wasn’t good enough to be a pro footballer.

Reader 2 I held on to my dream and the work has been worth it.

Reader 3 I look back and see how the twists and turns gave me the skills I use today.

Reader 4 I’m going to give it five years, then think again if I haven’t had the break I need.

Reader 5 Here I am, not doing what I originally wanted, but having a great time.

Time for reflection

Think about your hopes and dreams for the future. How could you adapt them if they don’t come true?

Someone once said, life is like a tapestry – but you can only see the pattern when you look back, not when you’re in the middle of it. May your life tapestry be beautiful, with some surprises.

Be happy.

Hymn

‘Make me a channel of your peace’ (Come and Praise, 147)

Publication date: June 2013   (Vol.15 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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