Alumni Interview: Lotta Urban
Speech and Language Therapist volunteering with City Cambodia SLT project
What years and grades did you attend ISPP and when did you graduate?
I was in preschool and Grade 1 at ISPP in 1998-1999.
Where do you reside now?
London, United Kingdom. However, I am now back in Phnom Penh for three months working as a volunteer Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) with different NGOs.
Name the places you have lived in.
Kassel (Germany), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), La Paz (Bolivia), Berlin (Germany), Managua (Nicaragua), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Hamburg (Germany), and London (UK).
What have you been up to since graduating from ISPP?
I finished high school in Nicaragua, where I went to the German Nicaraguan School. I then studied a one-year Popular Music Diploma at the BIMM Institute in London, moved to Hamburg for further studies and then back again to London to pursue a Master of Science degree in Speech and Language Therapy at City, University of London. I am now on my first adventure as a qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) with the City Cambodia SLT Project, which aims to develop services for people with speech, language, communication and swallowing needs around Cambodia as there’s still a huge gap in the availability of services and support for those in need, impacting on health, attainment and social and emotional well-being. We are a group of eight volunteer SLTs working across different settings including hospitals and schools. I am working specifically with NGOs that work with children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) such as DDSP, Komar Pikar Foundation and Rabbit School.
Which countries have you travelled to?
Like any kid with globally mobile parents, I was fortunate to travel extensively and experience lots of different cultures first hand. During our school holidays, we would often go on long road trips that covered most of Latin America. Since moving to Europe to pursue the university studies I have also travelled quite a bit on my own account. I have been to Portugal, Spain, France, Austria, Italy, Poland, Morocco, Croatia, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium… The beauty of living in Europe is that everything’s a stone’s throw away.
What are your hobbies? What do you end up doing in your spare time?
Back in London, I am part of the London International Gospel Choir (LIGC) and I also run a small vocal harmony group with friends. Apart from singing, I also love dancing Salsa and doing yoga.
What do you miss most about Phnom Penh?
My friends, the heat, the food and all the exotic fruit! I also miss the chaos and the rhythm of the city. I find it strangely calming and it reminds me to slow down.
What are your favourite memories of Cambodia and ISPP?
I have fond memories of my swimming classes after school. I also remember my surprise farewell party really well. We had a big garden party and my after school dance group at ISPP organised an amazing dance show.
What did you love most about studying in an international school?
I loved the pure essence of it being so international! You learn so much about different cultures in this shared space; it really broadens your worldview and equips you to think outside the box.
What was your favourite school lunch or snack?
Rice soup! Green mango!
What was your favourite subject or who was your favourite teacher?
Sports, Music and English.
What’s your most embarrassing in-school memory? What happened and did you learn anything from it?
I was a very avid swimmer. One time I remember arriving at my swimming class in ISPP and jumping into the water before taking my shirt off! I was very young but still remember the embarrassment clearly – just couldn’t get into the water fast enough!
How have you spent your summers while in high school?
I often travelled to Germany to visit family or went on road trips with my parents and younger siblings to explore the countries we were living in and their neighbouring countries.
Which event was the most fun?
I remember Halloween being really fun!
What are your plans for the future?
After my months in Cambodia are done, I will go back to London and find a job as an SLT there. On the side, I would like to continue my current work with Cambodian NGOs. And who knows – maybe move back again sometime in the future.
If you could give ISPP’s current Grade 12 class some advice at their graduation, what would it be?
There’s so much I would like to tell my younger self but that’s just part of growing up! You best learn from your own experiences and realisations but here are three pieces of advice that come to my mind and that I would like to share with you:
Take your time to explore your interests and what brings meaning and joy to your life before jumping into a career.
Don’t be afraid to follow your own path.
Life is not a race!
Updates that you would like to share with our community.
If you are interested in learning more about my SLT project in Cambodia, please have a look at my fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lotta-urban.
I am self-funding my work here as much as I can through volunteering grants and working on the side. Any amount you can spare will go towards my work in Cambodia and have a lasting impact on Cambodia’s local communities. Thank you!