Year Here fellow Giuliana Mazza-Coates meets TESS

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Giuliana graduated from the University of Manchester with a 1st-class degree in Italian and Spanish in 2014. As part of her 4-year degree, she completed a 6-month placement working as a learning assistant with children aged 2-13 years at a children’s home in Buenos Aires. This experience sparked her desire to pursue a career working with young people. Giuliana has since volunteered and worked with several local and national charities, who are working to fight against educational inequality. She is currently working as a teaching assistant at a Pupil Referral Unit in Hackney. She has been placed there as part of a postgraduate programme she is doing in social innovation and enterprise called Year Here. It was through the Year Here network that she met Christopher Watson the founder of TESS. 

Follow Giuliana @Jules_Mazza 

What are the most influential lessons you’ve learnt over the last 12 months? 

To be patient. I’ve had to learn to be ok with taking my time. I think that when you really care about what you want to do with your life, you should be prepared for it to take some time to get to that place you want to be. We live in a time where people will try several different roles before realising what they want to dedicate their professional life to. I felt quite lost and frustrated when I graduated, knowing that I wanted to work with young people, but not sure exactly in what capacity. It has only been in the last year that I knew working on the frontline of educational inequality and injustice was what I wanted to focus on.

What are your most prominent memories of your education? 

Laughing. A lot! I laughed my way through primary and secondary school and became a little more serious at university... I feel very fortunate to have such fond, funny and happy memories of my education. But I accept that I was a pain in the arse up until I did my A-Levels-before realising that if I didn’t want to end up working at a supermarket in Swindon, which is what my parents said I might end up doing... I had to do less talking/laughing and more working! 

When was the last time you visited a zoo, and how was that for you?

The last time I visited a zoo was when a good friend of mine who used to work at the café in Bristol Zoo, managed to sneak a group of us in! I don’t remember feeling like it was overwhelmingly depressing, but I do remember finding it difficult to watch the larger animals confined in what looked like good conditions, but such confined spaces. I struggle to believe that any animal or person could maintain a healthy, happy mental state when living in such a restricted, unnatural environment. I do however understand that if a zoo is all an animal has ever known, perhaps they are happier being there than we are inclined to think.

What do you think people will look back on in 100 years and consider absurd?

The amount of time we spent talking to a screen rather than each other. Unless of course in 100 years’ time people have resorted to screens only in which case... they may think it is absurd that we didn’t communicate like that 100 years ago!

What’s your question of the moment?

My depressing, despairing question would be... how did it all go so wrong?

And my more positive question would be… what are you most appreciative of in this wonderful, weird, sad and bad world?! 

What inspires you?

Kindness, humility, compassion, an appreciation for life, and a diligent work ethic. 

What advice would you give to today’s youngsters? 

Be proactive, be passionate and be generous with your heart because the world is going to need it.

What do you think of TESS?

I think it is one of the most revolutionary, innovative ideas I’ve heard about, and I hope to play some part, however small, in helping to make it happen! I am a great believer in the power animals harness, to help young people with their educational and emotional development. TESS embodies a wonderfully radical, refreshing and exciting idea.