Our Brian in volunteering mission to China

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Former Highfields student Brian White, whose battle to stay in the UK and study at Oxford captured hearts across the country, is spending his holidays mentoring children at a Chinese summer camp.

Instead of returning to Wolverhampton for the long break, the talented 21-year-old has instead volunteered his time to teach youngsters at the Greenwoods International Summer Camp.

The camp, located at Qiandao Lake in China, welcomes youngsters aged 7-15 from across the world to enjoy sports facilities, outdoor pursuits and academic studies.

Brian will spend two months tutoring youngsters at the camp after completing his first year at Oxford University.

Ms S Bishop, Highfields’ Head of Performance who supported Brian in his hard-fought appeal to remain in the UK, said: “Brian has thoroughly embraced his first year at university and didn’t want to spend the long summer break just sitting around after what has been a whirlwind of a year.

“He is loving every minute of his mentoring and it is wonderful to see his infectious smile lighting up the lives of students over in China.”

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Brian lived in an orphanage in Zimbabwe until the age of six when a missionary spotted the bright boy’s potential and introduced him to British-born Peter White who was working in the country and had two children and a Zimbabwean wife.

Mr White first fostered and then adopted Brian, who was 12 when he moved with his new family to Botswana, where he was later left with one of their friends on their return to live in Penn. He was allowed to join them at the age of 15 but immigration officials gave him temporary rather than indefinite leave to remain here.

This was only spotted when Brian’s application for a student grant in 2016, following the offer to study Chemistry at Lady Margaret Hall after he got 3 A*s and an A in A Levels, was rejected when it was discovered he had inadvertently overstayed his temporary visa and faced deportation.

Lady Margaret Hall took the rare step of putting his place on hold for 12 months whilst he fought to stay in the UK.

His story started gaining local media attention and the backing of a number of celebrities, including soul superstar Beverley Knight and author Sathnam Sanghera before a petition started by his friend, Luke Wilcox, turned his case into a national sensation.

The online petition urging the Home Office to rethink its decision to refuse him indefinite leave to remain in the UK was signed by more than 111,000 people whilst his story was picked up by the national press, including The Guardian, The Independent, BBC, Evening Standard, The Mirror, Daily Mail and BuzzFeed, among others. He also appeared on This Morning alongside Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.

After more than a year in limbo, the Home Office granted him indefinite leave to remain and he started his studies at Oxford last September. (Images courtesy of Greenwoods International Summer Camp)

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Posted on August 14, 2018 .