My journey from Toowoomba to Cambridge started when my dad and I were looking at exchange and gap year opportunities, initially in Canada, but later came across the Reach Cambridge Youth Leadership Program through one of his business networks.
To apply for the course, I had to complete the written application forms, as well as submit a video introducing myself and explaining why I was interested in the program and what I hoped to gain from the experience.
I was thrilled to be accepted and while it meant missing some school, I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss.
The primary focus of our classes centred on leadership. Before attending the program, my idea of leadership was that someone was the boss of a group, and they were the ones who instructed people on what to do and how to do it.
I was so wrong.
After attending the program I now know true authentic leadership in my view is about taking initiative and helping other people around you work to the best of their ability by recognising and enhancing their strengths and skills.
It is about being well-versed in the subject you are working with, being responsible and having accountability, while also providing guidance and showing confidence. This lesson for me was the most valuable one and has undoubtedly affected me positively in how I approach situations as well as actively seeking to learn people’s strengths and how to support the growth of those around me.
Being part of this program has given me a chance to strengthen and reinforce my goals and aspirations while opening my eyes to all the experiences and possibilities available. I also made lasting connections and friendships with like-minded students from all over the world who also attended, leaving me with a feeling that the world isn’t that big after all. Getting to know about other countries and cultures, as well as sharing information about Australia with the other students, made the experience very memorable.
The highlight of my Cambridge trip was attending Corpus Christi College at the university. The college features amazing architecture, some of which dates back to the 14th century, and walking the grounds and hearing from the lecturers in a place that you’ve seen in books and movies were absolute highlights. Learning about the university’s achievements, like the discovery of the DNA double helix, and about some of the incredible people who have researched there, such as Professor Stephen Hawking, was a humbling experience.
At Toowoomba Anglican School, everyone is encouraged to follow their own path and we are taught that experiences and opportunities are gifts to be grateful for and to take advantage of them. They teach and inspire us to give 100 per cent to our growth and learning, and it is this belief that meant I could tackle the challenges throughout the program without hesitation. Knowing I had the support of my teachers and friends back home in Australia, I felt confident in my success throughout the experience at Cambridge.
If other young people are considering applying for the program, be prepared to be out of your comfort zone; you will dig deeper and think harder than ever before and if you are not willing to critically self-reflect and consider the world around you then you won’t get the most out of the experience. Keep an open mind and take every opportunity presented.Jump to next article