In what ways has South Africa Challenge changed your outlook on life or world view?
My trip to South Africa has turned my life and the world as I perceive it upside down. From a personal perspective, the stay in Durban has seen me develop into a more open, more self-confident and certainly a happier person. I reconsidered my values, the things I believe in and consider important and the way I want others to perceive me. Before the trip I was unsure where I was heading towards, both as a person and in terms of my profession. Those weeks helped me to better understand myself and bring light to some of the biggest questions that I was asking myself for a long time. So I am not exaggerating, when I say that the SA Challenge has changed my life forever.
On reflection, what did you learn about yourself, others, or South Africa?
Looking back on how I have been before South Africa, I see a real change in attitude and motivation. Long before South Africa, I had the same dreams as many other business students all over the globe: finish your degree and work for a well-known, well-regarded and well-paying company one day. What drove me was not the outlook to do something that I would love, but the money. However, my views started to change a few semesters into my business studies, when I saw the harm and pain that reckless business could bring to people’s lives. I started to rethink my views on life and how business should work. But I thought that this was just me thinking in this kind of way. I was wrong. Because my team mates on the challenge, as well as all the other people we happened to meet in South Africa showed me that I am not alone in my thinking. There are so many of us who want to see an end to the way we are doing business, who want to bring a change to the world and make a real difference and impact.
Which part of the South Africa did you enjoy the most?
Definitely the people. In a country where you see a lot of poverty and where a lot of bad things happen on a daily scale, the happiness and positive attitude of the people is kind of surreal. They celebrate the tiniest things in life, be it a good dinner, a catchy tune on the radio or just the fact that for once it is not them being on the load shedding schedule. This just showed me that a happy life cannot be equalised with a nice house, a fancy car or lots of digits on your bank account, but more importantly, being healthy and doing what you love most.
How has SA Challenge influenced what you have done since?
Participating in the South Africa Challenge has had a lasting impact on my life. It was there that I finally decided to give my life a whole new direction and meaning, by quitting my business studies in England and start a medicine degree in Germany. My stay in South Africa has taught me that you need to give your life meaning, that you need to love what do and that there is no point in pursuing something that you do not believe in.
Do you have any messages or advice for future participants?
If you have the opportunity to participate in the South Africa Challenge, do not hesitate a minute. It is a trip that will shake the foundations of what you perceive to be right and wrong, possible and impossible. You will learn lots about yourself, what drives you and keeps you going to continuously give more than 100%. You will meet lots of people who all have the aspiration to make a long-lasting difference in this world and change the lives of many people to the better. Even if you fail to accomplish your goals while on the challenge, the gains you make in terms of personal development and experience far outweigh those little setbacks.