Students at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich were privileged to receive a visit yesterday afternoon from U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Matthew Barzun.

Mr Barzun, who has served as the ambassador to the UK since 2013, spoke to Yr 12 students about America’s place in the world, and explored their perceptions of the U.S. via an interactive quiz.

The visit included a Q&A session, where the ambassador opened the floor to students and was challenged to respond to questions on gritty topics such as immigration, culture and politics. Enquiries covered Russian/US relations, US military intervention, guns, the US presidential campaign and much more.

The ambassador provided students with insights into the American constitution, and shared anecdotes about his political career, including the first time he met President Obama: “I was nervous – I dressed up.”

Mr Barzun said of his visit, “I thank the students at Alleyn’s for being so honest with their opinions. The young people of today are the leaders of tomorrow, whatever field they may choose, and it is important to listen to them. Today was about listening. “

Alleyn’s Headmaster, Dr Gary Savage, welcomed the ambassador to the School, and referenced a quote of Mr Barzun’s when he said, “The role of an ambassador is a project driven by a desire for mutual understanding. Our students were fantastic with their questions in pursuit of that goal today. The participatory nature of the session was both valuable and revealing.”

Every year, some of Alleyn’s Year 13 students take up higher education options at US institutions such as (most recently) Northwestern University in Chicago amongst others. The School is proud to have a strong connection with the US via its network of States-based Old Boys and Girls and other school representatives who serve on educational bodies on both sides of the Atlantic.

Students at Alleyn’s enjoy regular opportunities to hear from visiting speakers of note, with recent examples including renowned scientist Professor Brian Cox, e-safety expert Karl Hopwood and mental health and body image campaigner, Natasha Devon.