This summer Square Pegs Coaching is sponsoring another couple of amazing young people who are travelling abroad to serve other people, but our expectation, and theirs, is that they will be changed hugely by the experience.
Over the years, I have particularly loved to see how these kinds of small experiences can have such a big effect in people’s lives, in the present but long into the future as well.
Sarah and Victoria only met 12 months ago but yet, talking to them, I had assumed they were friends of many years standing. They first got together at an introductory weekend for an international organisation who they had barely heard about – okay, it sounds more like they each had influential youth leaders who borderline-bullied them into going. Neither was keen beforehand and less so when they saw how few folks were there. Yet within 48 hours they had been enthused enough to spend the next 12 months advocating the charity’s work and agreeing to go to the Middle East.
Sitting across from them as we talked I was deluged by the tidal wave of excitement and expectation flowing from them both, despite their differing experiences of the big wide world; Victoria has been to Paris and no further, but in her gap year, Sarah has spent time working alongside her granny in Nazareth (check out her gapyearwithgranny blog or see her on National Geographic’s instagram!) as well as a trip to Peru.
You can tell there is still some trepidation, given all the media coverage of that part of the world. They are really keen to work with kids in refugee camps but less so on the tortuous trip via Istanbul; interested to meet the people and experience all the good things they have been told, but concerned that their brief time won’t make much of a difference. Already they can imagine that leaving children they have formed a bond with will be tough and so their eyes are starting to focus on the horizon beyond – what could be next?
Victoria talked about some of the benefits she has already experienced through the programme, noticing how much more confident she has become since that first involuntary weekend. Now she is looking ahead to what her trip will teach her about herself and how capable she is to do stuff – something that outsiders are already noticing.
Sarah talked more about the idea of going to serve but yet she won’t be a bit surprised if she is more on the receiving end instead. We discussed how often it is the case that when we take scary steps of faith into the unknown that we gain most for ourselves. Listening to her, it’s definitely not a selfish motivation, but being inspired is something she looks forward to.
We talked about their return. I am keen to hear how they get on but also to immerse myself in the expected torrent of stories. They want the effects of their trip to be long-lasting. I would love to unleash them on as many of their generation as will listen to them – they can’t fail to be infected as well, inspired by their peers to do something similar. My generation could benefit as well, letting some of their youthful zeal reawaken the bit in all of us that wants to make a mark and leave a legacy.
For recruitment they say you should hire for attitude because skills can be taught later; they’re not looking just yet but these two will be an asset to whatever organisations have the sense to hire them in the future.