Poppy Mulford: Regents International School Pattaya (2016) & Kurt Hahn Award Winner
Posted: 09 March 2023
Poppy is a Third Culture Kid (TCK) who has spent her life living and attending schools in countries that are not her own. Poppy has lived in Thailand, El Salvador, Jordan, and Mozambique and is now in her final year of a Sports Science Degree at Exeter University in the UK. It was during her time in Thailand, where she was attending Regents International School Pattaya, that she was awarded the Kurt Hahn Award for service to others at the young age of 12. Her actions were also recognised by her school, and she was awarded the Brittany Tang Bursary for Outstanding Global Citizenship.
Poppy was inspired to raise money through cycling to pay for medical support and a hearing aid for Yok, an eight-year-old girl she met at Sotpattana School for the Deaf during a Round Square conference. Poppy biked an incredible 459 km on her first Temple2Temple trip from Ayutthaya to Angkor Wat. It took five days, and she raised 250,000 Baht. Poppy was inspired! The next year she planned and completed her second Temple2Temple ride, cycling over 600 km from Ayutthaya to Vientiane, Laos. This time the funds she raised went towards supporting other students at the Sotpattana School. The school purchased new computers for the students – and a new server to replace the one that had been short-circuited by a snake!
Poppy is humble about the attention she received from her fundraising and explains that the reason she felt compelled to make a difference was not for recognition or awards.
I just thought, “I want to help. I wanted to get involved.” The experiences and the opportunities were there, and I wanted to make a difference.
Poppy remembers how she first met Yok. It was during the conference when students from the deaf school visited Regents’ International School and took part in sporting activities.
“I remember swimming with the students from the school. I just got on really well with this one girl. I got on with many of the students, but Yok sort of stuck to me. I remember teaching her to swim. I’d never had to interact with anyone who didn’t have hearing before. But we just clicked. Maybe because she was the same age as one of my sisters.”
Poppy’s close connection with Yok continued. She was with Yok when she had her hearing aids fitted and saw the direct impact of her actions on the lives of the students at the school. Eventually, Yok moved to a school that was closer to her family home. Poppy continued fundraising and provided resources to support the family restaurant and even travelled to visit Yok and meet her family.
Poppy received her Kurt Hahn Award at the Round Square International Conference hosted in Jordan by King’s Academy, Jordan. The theme was “Al Salamu Alaikum” or “Peace be with You”. Poppy remembers accepting the award and giving her speech to an audience of 1,000. “That was a bit daunting! It was the biggest speech I’ve had to give but it was a great experience!”
In recognition of her incredible service to others, Poppy was invited to Tasmania to speak at a Junior Round Square Conference hosted by Scotch Oakburn School. It was a conference aimed at 11 to 12-year-olds in the Australasian region. The theme – No Man is an Island – explored the importance of working together and making connections with others. Although Poppy was invited as the Keynote Speaker, she participated in activities with the baraza groups. She stayed for three weeks after the conference on exchange.
At the age of 15, Poppy and her family moved to Mozambique where she graduated from the IB Diploma Programme. She decided to take a Gap Year and worked at Regent’s International School, Bangkok as an intern before beginning university in Exeter.
Poppy is comfortable with challenge. Her experiences as an international student had prepared her for meeting unknown challenges. However, she was surprised at how much of a challenge it was to settle into life at university in England. Although she is British and has a strong British accent, Poppy notices how experiences have changed her and set her apart from her peers.
“We are very different. Our experiences make us quite different, and it really is hard to incorporate into this lifestyle. It wasn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be. Partly because of the cultural learning curve, but also because as a student living away from home, you have so many more responsibilities!”
Poppy has achieved incredible things in a short period of time. Her impact on the lives of others has been long-lasting and she carries those close to her heart, although she cannot quite believe she managed to fit everything in! She is very thankful for all the support she had throughout her fundraising bike rides, to her family and friends who helped make the adventures a reality, and to Regent’s International School Pattaya, Sotpattana School for the Deaf and all the generous donors for encouraging her to make a difference.
Poppy reminds us of Kurt Hahn’s words, “There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.