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Giving young adults experiences that will stay with them for life

In recent months, many of us have keenly felt the impact of being unable to travel due to the global pandemic. It’s driven home how valuable and special these experiences are, and the fact that until recently we took them for granted.  

Cardiff University’s Global Opportunities programme gives students the chance to volunteer, work and study abroad, and benefit from the experiences they would have otherwise missed out on. We spoke to Sammy Fagan (Chemistry 2018-) who spent summer 2019 teaching children in Tanzania.  

Being immersed in a completely different way of life, from the huts and cold showers, to the public transport (sometimes shared with chickens or goats) really gave me an insight to some of the major differences in our cultures. I now definitely have more appreciation for certain things, that I knew I took for granted beforehand. 

I wanted to go to Tanzania to teach English, but we ended up doing so much more. We weren’t only involved in the classroom, but in playtime too, so we were helping the children to understand playing and sharing with each other.  

The most enjoyable part was seeing the children’s expressions when they were told they had got it right, as they tried so hard. The gratefulness from the teachers for the simple stationery we took, and the joy the children had playing with bubbles and balloons, really made me realise how lucky we are. 

My time there also taught me to be more independent. Having to find our way to the school on public transport, and explore the area in our free time, really helped me learn to make decisions, and be less afraid of taking risks. I’ve just started my industrial placement year as part of my ongoing studies and taking this step seems much less daunting, knowing I’ve travelled abroad and volunteered in Africa. Starting a new job seems easy in comparison. 

The trip cemented my desire to go into water purification because while there we were told that only bottled water was safe to drink. However, the children were drinking water from the tap and although this looked clean, it clearly wasn’t. We also passed children from a different school collecting water from a dirty river to drink. I have a strong desire to help change this and to give everyone access to clean drinking water. 

My trip to Tanzania was an excellent experience that I will never forget. It was as fun as it was enlightening and without a doubt, something I’d recommend to other students. It’s an experience that gives you first-hand knowledge of the world, and helps you develop invaluable life-skills.  

Tanzania is somewhere I’d never have visited without the opportunity from Cardiff University and if there hadn’t been funding, I would never have been able to go. By donating to the Global Opportunities programme, you’re giving young adults experiences that will stay with them for life. Not only that, but the impact they can have on the communities they visit could be lifechanging.  

Find out how you can support Cardiff students through the Global Opportunities programme to broaden their horizons, experience other cultures and develop new skills as they approach life after university.