Having a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing in a world, is courage and not a weakness.
Perhaps the most important realization that an individual can make in their quest for personal growth is that there is no single
formula that defines the path to personal success. We also have different natural strengths and weaknesses that are a part of our inherent personality type. I am going to take you through my journey of my personal growth during a Youth Exchange with an organisation called Bridging Gaps.
How I was VS how I am now
People who knows me won’t say that I am a shy person but when meeting new people a lot of people will be surprised. Whenever there was something that had to be done I always waited until I got asked to do something. But now I am taking initiative to lead which also made me see that it makes peoples life easier.
During the Youth Exchange with 10 Germans, whenever I had to go and approach one of them I always took someone from my fellow South Africans to approach my fellow counterparts. But as the days progressed so did my confidence as well as my self-esteem. I can now talk freely to our fellow counterparts without any hindering.
Challenges I’ve faced
As I have said that I am a shy person in general so I always stuck with my fellow South Africans, and this resulted in me having a hard time making friends with our fellow counterparts. Growing up with certain stereotypes about others also made it difficult to let go of them, so during the exchange I couldn’t help but always looking at what they are doing in order to agree with that stereotype.
This also resulted in me having a tough time to letting go of what I have heard and what I have been taught. As I had trouble making friends with the Germans, to start a conversation was extremely hard. As one doesn’t know what to say, how to start, being yourself and not being afraid.
My mind was running wild. Not being able to start conversations with them made is also hard to unmasking myself, and also lose out of a chance to them getting to know me and vice versa.
Growth moments and change of mind-set
I had many growth moments during the two weeks of the Youth Exchange, but the best ones are that I realised that there was no huge gap between us (the South Africans) and our fellow counterparts (Germans).
I made it my priority to not go to sleep without at least getting to know one our fellow counterparts which means speaking to them personally. Every day when I approached on other counterpart of ours, I came to realise that they are also human and that most of them experienced the same thing that I have, which is shyness as well as growing up with a few stereotypes about the rest.
One day we had to make a list of 3 people of whom we want to be partnered up with, we South Africans could only choose someone from the German multipliers, and same applied for them. It was awkward at first but me and my partner (Lukas) made it worthwhile for one another and don’t forget FUNN (functional understanding not needed) but most of the time we made it FUN (functional understanding needed). I must say it was awesome.
This one evening one of our fellow counterpart members approached me and we spoke about everyday things as well as talking about how we finding the Youth Exchange. There came a time where I opened up about myself and where I come from as well as the challenges I face day to day. What surprised me the most was we never spoke but I felt like I could trust her. She did the same and our bond was much deeper than what I’ve experienced with the others. That night was special and the weird thing was that we both don’t trust people easy but we just felt like we could trust each other that night and every day after that. From that night onwards we have been inseparable.
I always remembered the 3Cs at the Youth Exchange, you must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change. I cheated on my fears, broke up with my doubts, got engaged to my faith, Now I am married to my dreams.
My name is Elverouscha Keshia Block, I am 17 years old. I am a matriculant at the Deutsche Internationale Schule Pretoria (DSP) and I am interested in learning subjects such as History and Business and my favourite subjects are Afrikaans and German. I am a Supervisor In training at Bridges Camp and my position is to be a Content Manager which entails making sure that everything follows as plan on the Manuel which also describes me when I am given a duty to do and I make sure that I will hand it in on the due date. My hobbies are listening to music, Dancing and writing poems. I am always open to new ideas and cannot wait to learn something new.