Jessica Kila Ngongo is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo but received her IB diploma from the Arc-en-Ciel International School in Lomé, Togo in 2018. She is currently in her second year at the University of Westminster in London, United Kingdom studying Business Management.
Why did you decide to pursue the Diploma Programme?
Given that I had studied at the Arc-en-Ciel International School since primary school (from 2007-2018), it made sense for me to finish my studies at the same school and enrol in the DP.
Before starting the DP, I also completed the MYP which help me be open-minded. I was also part of the first class to obtain the IB MYP Certificate in May 2016. This exam was given under the same conditions as the DP, except we used a computer. I had the opportunity to grow through these programmes because they helped me develop certain qualities that I still use in university, such as organization, rigour, conciseness and the different learner profile attributes.
The personal project during MYP Year 5 also allowed me to develop independence, research, selection and organization skills for important academic references and the ability to go beyond theory. This background made me want to continue with the DP programme, and helped me to approach it with more self-confidence and courage, which was different from the other students who were not in the MYP.
Lastly, I am proud of having completed this programme since it allowed me to be able to develop academic, social and emotional skills and to consider all the contexts (cultural, global, etc) in all my subjects.
What advice do you have for current IB students?
Be yourself during the programme but also always stay positive. It’s easy to be stressed during this programme if you don’t have guidance, which is why it’s important to be positive. Being positive will help you better accept the highs and lows and learn from your mistakes to achieve your goals. Also, take advantage of CAS since it offers balance between academic and personal life. Don’t think of CAS as an obligation, but rather an opportunity to distract yourself. Have fun, work with your friends, pray if you are a believer, rest as needed, and everything will turn out fine.
Be organized when preparing for internal assessments and the extended essay to avoid stress when the deadlines approach, and work in groups with other students who are taking the same subjects as you if needed. And finally, when you choose your extended essay and internal evaluation topics, choose ones that interest you to have better outcomes.
How did the IB broaden your horizons and impact your career and your beliefs?
The IB allowed me to push myself to my limit. Since I am normally calm and reserved, I was able to develop my communication skills and work in a group during the group 4 project. The extended essay allowed me to be independent, creative and to resolve real problems facing companies, which are skills that recruiters seek. Also, when we finished the extended essay, we were given the opportunity to present our research before a jury made up of students’ parents and all the DP students. This allowed me to learn how to summarize a long research paper in a way that was concise and that everyone could understand. This also taught me how to manage my stress and to have a professional attitude. Since I wrote an extended essay in Business Management, I knew that I really liked the subject which is why I decided to study it at university.
In IB schools, there are also often students from different backgrounds and cultures, allowing me to be open-minded, tolerant, ethical and have respect for others. During the DP, our class carried out an academic exchange programme with another IB School in Tema, Ghana: SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College. This allowed me to develop my skills in English and communicate with students from a different environment than where I grew up in Togo. Also, our school offers the IB programme in two languages: French and English. So, I had the opportunity to make friends from an English-speaking education system. Having grown up with English-speaking and French-speaking friends made me realize the importance of bilingualism, which is why, after obtaining my IB diploma in French, I decided to continue my university studies in English and in an English-speaking environment (in London).
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) allowed me to develop my critical spirit, which, given that I grew up in a developing country, and along with the learner profile attributes, allowed me to propose ideas to resolve the major problems facing many countries on my continent, Africa.
What was the most memorable part of your IB experience?
There are many things that made my experience in the IB programme memorable. But if I have to choose, I’d say it was CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service).
CAS allowed me to understand that in life, we should have a balance between our professional and personal lives for our well-being. CAS also taught me that we should undertake activities that have a positive impact on our communities and environment. And so, during my two years in the DP, I was able to learn new things, like how to play the djembe and then teach it to primary school children (Creativity). I also took part in different athletic activities like afro dance, or even fitness (Activity). And finally, my favorite part of the CAS programme was obviously the service. It’s a part of the IB that allowed me to reflect on myself and my surroundings. I discovered what humility, sharing and love are. Through the work I did with orphans and the poor, I learned how lucky I am to be who I am today, to have what I have and the opportunities that allowed me to move forward. In CAS we were also able to work on projects with classmates which made our experiences more pleasant and memorable. For example, along with my friends, I took care of orphans who ranged in age from infants to 3-year-olds for an entire year. I also ran a marathon to raise money to help children suffering from sickle cell disease, and lastly, along with 5 friends, I raised money by selling homemade food in order to pay for surgeries for children with deformities (in partnership with La Chaîne de l’Espoir).
This programme makes you think about the human aspect beyond the course and beyond the theory. This is an important opportunity that the IB programme offers that doesn’t necessarily exist in other academic programmes.