Loughborough Student Life

South Africa Challenge

As Business School students we are introduced to many opportunities and projects that we can take part in. One of them was South Africa Challenge, which one of my lecturers told me about some time at the beginning of the year. I found it very interesting and exciting. Of course, I had some thoughts already – it is the right decision; isn’t it too big of a challenge and so on. However, I love challenges and new experiences, so I decided to apply.

Right now, I am sitting on the plane from Durban (South Africa) to Istanbul and then flying back to the UK, thinking about these amazing past two weeks which I can add to the best weeks of my life. I am so happy that I decided to apply and participate in this programme. The South Africa Challenge has helped me to have a different perspective on the world, I learnt a lot about myself and others and I grew a lot. If I could, I would have stayed longer. It was an amazing environment full of great and very inspirational people and unforgettable memories.

South Africa Challenge is a leadership development programme, which includes weekly online sessions before the actual trip to South Africa as well as residential weekend, where we discussed different topics such as goal setting, leadership and our projects that were a big part of the South Africa Challenge. We had to do research, and based on the research and our passions, we decided which issue we want to tackle. For me, education and unemployment are very important and therefore, I decided to work on a career guidance project. I was working with three other programme participants from Belgium, Zambia and South Africa and the result was delivering two workshops for about 100 people ranging from 18-35 years old from the local community in Kwandengezi. The workshop was about self-awareness, attitudes to work and the future career. We made the sessions interactive and motivational and we got a very positive feedback.

Working on this project thought me so much about working with people from different countries and cultures as well as working and adapting a project that has a social impact in a totally different environment than the one I am used to. In general, there were participants from all around the world on the programme. Even though we knew each other only for short time, since we met at the airport for the first time in person after the online sessions, we became very close quick. Apart from the projects, we had different sessions on personal development and we also met with different partners from South Africa, where we had to make connections and often pitch our projects. Getting to know the South African culture was another exciting part of the programme. We visited safari, beach, museum and the local communities. For me, South African culture is different, very welcoming and I really enjoyed experiencing it.

This programme was one of the best learning and exciting experiences in my life. Even though you have to step out of your comfort zone, that is exactly how you grow and develop. I learned so much, met amazing people from different countries and saw another part of the world with totally different culture. This trip really opened my eyes and changed my view on the world, on myself and on other people. I also want to say a big thank you to everyone that made this trip happen! I am going to miss South Africa and all the people I have met there!

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Hi, my name is Simona, I come from Slovakia and I am an International Business student. If I could describe Loughborough in one word it would be amazing!