In what ways has South Africa Challenge changed your outlook on life or world view?
What you see, hear or read about isn't always the full story. Sometimes you need to experience something in order to be able to have a complete view on it and if it is an issue, tackling it will prove to be much more challenging and much more rewarding, even if you manage to go halfway or even end up achieving goals you that you would not even consider.
SAC has reminded me that I can still commit to something, whether it is a challenge, a project or a goal or even a person or a team of people. Adaptability was something I would always consider as an asset of myself but for the past few years I have not really tested it and it turned out I can still be the chameleon I thought I was!
On reflection, what did you learn about yourself, others, or South Africa?
Before the challenge, my knowledge regarding issues of South Africa were limited to what the media would broadcast and findings through my own research. However, after the SAC I realized that nothing could prepare me for what I would encounter; things were far more worse than I expected. On the other side, it is a beautiful country with one of the richest and purest cultures, with an amazing history behind and so many interesting traditions.
Being part of such a big and diverse team, I was able to surround myself with so many interesting and inspiring individuals who shared their stories and even inspired me to do the same. I would always think of myself as an extrovert but it appeared to be only for the bright aspect of things. Standing side by side with numerous passionate young individuals from all walks of lives, heading towards the same goal could be such an eye opener.
Regarding myself, before the challenge, I would always think of myself as a 'seasoned' mature, or even complete individual who had experiences - both bad and good - that shaped me to the man I am today. However, there were some huge important pieces that I did not even know they existed; SAC made me aware of these pieces, helped me mold them and then make them a part of the puzzle I call Self.
Which parts of the South Africa Challenge did you enjoy the most?
Doing all the cultural and tourist activities and learning everything about South Africa; meeting all those inspiring NGOs and amazing individuals that have been working to make a change; working with our projects and molding our leadership styles through our personal development; all these would not be as enjoyable as they were if we have not been spending 24/7 with each other. So for me, the most important part of the Challenge was the team I was lucky to be with - something I would never expected judging from the weekend away and the numerous Skype sessions we had before we flew to Durban.
How do you think South Africa Challenge will influence what you do in your future? Or how has it already influenced you since returning?
Setting goals, focusing on one vision, trying to make the 'right' choice, creating a plan and trying to stick to it while also being willing to change it at any point of time and then reflecting back to it to see what went wrong and how we would approach it in the future were all important aspects of the programme that we encountered every single day. Writing things down was something I would not do often but returning I can definitely find myself doing it, even subconsciously for the simplest tasks.
What would you say to future participants?
GO WITH AN OPEN MIND!!! I cannot stress this enough! People would often travel to SA and have some certain expectations regarding what the you want to achieve through their projects which is always good. However, from my experience, nothing can prepare you. Everything you will read, all the preparations you will make, all the planning WILL be important but you need to be able to adapt and adjust to certain circumstances, because of the variables that you cannot consider unless you are there physically.
The people you will meet - teammates, partners, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, pastors, drivers- is the most exciting part of the challenge, so learning how to engage by letting your guard down while also being respectful is the key to achieve that. In order to do that though you just need to pack your stuff and go to the airport and that's where everything begins, the SAC magic! Saying that you will make friends for life in just two weeks would sound cheesy but for me, that was the truth.
If you had to summarise the South Africa Challenge experience in one paragraph, what would you say?
When people ask me to tell them about my SAC experience I always start by saying that it was the best thing I have ever done. I had the chance to experience a completely different culture to mine, learn about the rich history of Africa, witness the results of the Apartheid, meet inspiring local individuals, live with the team I was part with and learn so much about myself through so many different challenges, activities, sessions and of course through food. I wouldn't change a thing and I would always cherish my decision to spend two weeks in Durban and becoming a part of this legacy called SAC.