The day has finally come... Results day - a day that feels as if it will determine the rest of your future!
For some of your classmates and friends, they are getting ready to pack up and head off to university to further their studies and eventually secure that perfect 9 to 5 job. "This will be the time of our lives!", they tell you, seemingly having it all figured out. But, for whatever reason, you can't decide if this is actually the path for you. You want more. You want big. You want experience! With the help of African Impact, you can have all of that and beyond.
Whilst knowing exactly what you want to be doing in life is great, not everyone will relate. We want you to know that you are not alone. Below, we hear from two previous African Impact staff members that know that exact feeling!
Miriam Willmott is an AI Veteran that explains below how she knew university was not the path for her after finishing her A Levels. Not having any real sense of direction (other than a desire to get out of the comfort zone of her home country), she found African Impact and an opportunity that would introduce her to her true passion.
"Although my two years of A levels were amazing, I knew that they were going to be my last years of education for a while. While most of my friends were headed off to university or had gone through crazy audition processes to get into drama schools, I just knew this wasn’t for me. My only problem was that I didn’t know what was! I was so worried that I wasn’t following what seemed to be the norm after sixth form, I was genuinely scared of my life going nowhere. After a few months of a “Gap Year” and not doing a whole lot, I jumped on the computer and searched for volunteer programs. Again, I didn’t know what I wanted or where I wanted to go, I just had a feeling I should be doing something and England wasn’t the place to be doing it. After finding a few different projects, I kept coming back to the African Impact- St Lucia Medical Project. I hadn’t had any medical experience before, but I was drawn to this project and wanted to learn more. Three months later, I was on a plane headed for South Africa.
That was four years ago for me, and guess what… I’m still here! I found my passion volunteering and working with African Impact and I am so happy I took that leap to come out here into the unknown alone. I have learned more in the past four years than I think I ever would have at university. That’s not to say people shouldn’t go, it’s just to say it may not be for everyone, and that’s ok. I am now taking part in an HIV/AIDS Education and Counseling Course, as this is what I am truly interested in and know that this is what I want my future to revolve around. There are so many options out there, many you may not know about yet, and though it may take time to find what is right for you, don’t panic because you will find it! Trust me."
Miriam Willmott – AI Veteran
Similar to Miriam, Carla Roberts was not confident in what she wanted to do beyond her A Levels. After starting university and realizing the degree she was after wasn't for her, she took a leap and found herself in Zambia with African Impact, where she developed her confidence and had an experience that will stick with her for life.
"When I finished school I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I started a science degree at University, but half way through my first year I realised that it wasn't what I wanted to do and switched to Psychology, still feeling like I wasn’t quite on the right path.
I knew I wanted to do something ‘big’ in my summer and after hearing about and seeing pictures of a friend’s experience with African Impact in Zambia, I decided to book myself. At the time, I was nervous booking an 8-week trip (the longest I'd been away from home), but I thought if I'm travelling so far I may as well make the most of it!
They day I left for Zambia, there were tears, panic and hesitation in the airport; I was terrified. But, I made it to Livingstone where over the next 8 weeks my life completely changed. I worked on the most fantastic projects, met some of the most amazing people and felt so much more confident and proud of myself for going on that trip. You might not believe me now if you haven’t experienced it yet, but when you go to Africa, you learn that although you might leave, Africa never leaves you!
After I came home, I thought about Zambia and the people I met every day, but I wanted to finish my degree so I stayed at home and eventually made contact with African Impact to discuss job opportunities as a volunteer coordinator. However, this would have meant taking another year out of my studies, so I decided to stay at home and finish my degree.
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason though and over my 3-month summer holidays, I had the opportunity to return to Livingstone as a volunteer coordinator and on the day I finished my last University exam, I boarded a plane to St. Lucia, South Africa, where I worked on projects there for 7 months.
Coming home, I tried a few jobs, but it just wasn't for me at that time.
I then spent the next year in Uganda and when the opportunity came to work on African Impact’s Cape Town projects, I couldn't resist. I spent my first year there as a VC and the second as Groups Manager.
When you put it all together it sounds like a lot but it really all happened piece by piece, without me even realizing.
Volunteering really did change my life; there is no way I would be where I am now and been able to meet the FANTASTIC people I have without volunteering that first time.
Now I'm home, setting up my own business, and studying at postgraduate level. Working in Africa, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, heart break, challenges, the peaks and the pits of living away from home, made me who I am now. There's no way 6 years ago when all of this started that I ever thought I could do something like this!
I wish every reader the best of luck in their exam results but just remember whatever happens, you can still do whatever you want and everything happens for a reason!"
Carla – AI Veteran
If you've found yourself longing for an opportuity to explore the world, make an impact on communities across the world and find yourself in the process, don't be afraid to stray from the norm. As you've heard from our Veterans, it may just be the best decision of your life!
Miriam and Carla in St Lucia, South Africa