Laura - 2015 Challenger
In what ways has SA Challenge changed your outlook on life or world view?
SA challenge was an experience that truly changed the way I saw the world in ways that I would never have predicted. As someone who's always been very set in her opinions, I didn't expect this to open my mind up to opinions completely contrasting to mine. The experience allows you to explore why other people's opinions differ and why they believe something else. It has made me more flexible, more creative, and more willing to understand other people.
On reflection, what did you learn about yourself, others or South Africa?
Through the experience, I learned that I was very willing to pretend that I always knew what I was talking about, but as a result of SA challenge, I now spend more time listening, asking questions, and understanding, before I speak. I think the main thing that I learned about others & South Africa, is that everyone's views come from their experience. It is entirely a result of their own lives and nothing clarified this as much as going to SA did. Essentially, I grew up a lot in those four weeks.
How has South Africa Challenge influenced what you have done since?
So, I went to SA to work on a rape project and I expected this to inspire my future activities. But in fact, I went in a completely different direction. Going into the townships made me realise the differences in childhood experiences between the UK & SA plays a role in the disparities in later outcomes. So now, I am working as a research assistant in the longitudinal research project - Born in Bradford. The plan is to do a PhD which creates fine motor skill interventions on a global level to try and narrow the gap between different countries.
Do you have any messages or advice for future participants?
My advice to applicants and future participants is to keep your mind as open as possible - listen as much as you can, ask questions, and don't go with too many expectations. It's good to come with ideas that you have researched but nothing you can read on google can even compete with experiencing it for yourself. Also, the extended South Africa Challenge team are some of the best, most hardworking, and interesting people I know - so to future challengers - welcome to the team!