#TeamVGo My Team v Leader Journal: Part 3: My Visit To Southend YMCA

Last Tuesday I made a visit to Southend YMCA, for the current Team v campaign, “Beyond a Tin of Food”. Southend YMCA is a charity that works in Southend, Essex, to help homeless young people. Apart from providing with housing, they also offer other type of support, such as food aid. Due to this, I believed it would be a good idea to work with them for this campaign, since they deal with food poverty.

Fortunately, I got to speak with an enthusiastic staff member in their offices, and I must admit it was a quite enlightening conversation. I walked out of that meeting knowing more than I thought I would. I asked about the organisation and their general services. Southend YMCA has 30 supported housing units. Their main focus is homeless teenagers between 16 and 18 years old, though they provide housing for homeless young people between 16 and 25. Service users are normally referred to the charity. Many of them are victims of neglect and abuse. Others have parents that can’t look after them, due to reasons such as unemployment. In most cases, these teenagers and young people are very vulnerable: many of them don’t have a penny, others have mental health problems and addictions, others are young offenders, and others have disabilities. Situations differ from person to person.

When they arrive to the organisation, these vulnerable people are provided with an emergency food aid parcel, which also includes toiletries. Here is a list of the donations they accept, so you can have an idea of what can the emergency parcel contain, more or less:

Food & Drink
Coffee, teabags, sugar, long life milk / powdered milk
1 litre long life fruit juices (orange and apple preferred)
Individually wrapped chocolate biscuits (e.g. Kit Kats, Penguins)
Crisps/potato snacks
Tinned hot dogs, ham and corned beef
Tins of chilli, meatballs, meat curry, minced beef, chicken in white sauce, stewed steak
Traditional tinned vegetables
Tins of tuna pasta (spaghetti or shapes)
Tins of baked beans, spaghetti, ravioli, spaghetti Bolognese, beans with sausages
Tins of fruit
Tins of steamed sponge puddings
Tins of custard and rice pudding
Gravy granules
SMASH instant mash
Jars of cooking sauces
Orange, lemon, summer fruit squash
Tins of soup
Biscuits
Mayonnaise
Evaporated milk
Crumble mix
Batter mix

Other
Washing powder
Washing up liquid
Toiletries
Towels
Single bedding and duvets
Supermarket vouchers
High street vouchers

Without doubt, the aspect I liked most about Southend YMCA’s work is their holistic approach to people in need: they give individual and complete support to their service users, not just housing, food and material goods. They go beyond food and beyond housing: they provide people with training, education and more opportunities to improve their situations. Every young person in their housing units has a key support worker assigned to them, with whom they have regular 1:1 sessions. During these meetings, the improvements of the young person are measured through the “Outcomes Star” system. This a method to assess and support the progress of service users towards self-reliance or other goals, like good mental health, quitting from an addiction, finding employment… Here is a picture and explanation of a “Outcomes Start”:

OutcomesStar

 

 

“An Outcomes Star reading is taken by the worker and service user at or near the beginning of their time with the project. Using the ladders or other scale descriptions, they identify together where on their ladder of change the service user is for each outcome area. Each step on the ladder is associated with a numerical score so at the end of the process the scores can be plotted onto the service user’s Star. The process is then repeated at regular intervals (every three, six or 12 months depending on the project) to track progress. The data can be used to track the progress of an individual service user, to measure the outcomes achieved by a whole project and to benchmark with a national average for similar projects and client groups.

In the mental health version of the Star (called the Recovery Star) shown above, the green line represents the service user’s initial scores, the blue line is their most recent score.”

(Source: http://www.outcomesstar.org.uk/about-the-outcomes-star/)

During the visit, I also had time to ask about statistics and trends of poverty in the area. The figures I was told were quite shocking. Southend is in the top 10% of UK’s most deprived areas. The current need for affordable housing is very high, and this is not only an issue in Southend. Currently, England is suffering from a lack of available, adequate and reasonably priced houses. The lack of availability of houses has lead to hundreds of people sleeping on streets, where their wellbeing, health and safety are threatened. There is not enough social housing for everyone, and families often have to wait years in temporary accommodation, while their name is kept in list. A great number of these families include dependants such as children and teens below the age of 18. The number of families is increasing, while the number of houses available is decreasing.

The lack of adequate housing has lead to people living in bad, harmful and harsh conditions. Thousands of houses are overcrowded; in 2008/9, around 654,000 houses in England were deemed as overcrowded. Bad housing includes houses in need of several repairs (e.g. cracked doors, broken walls, floors with holes), and houses that lack of needs such as water, gas, heat, and electricity. Harsh conditions include excessive coldness or hotness, poor sanitary conditions, low food availability etc. Also, a lack of adequate housing is also conditioned by insecure and problematic neighbourhoods with constant crimes and health issues going on. All this affects the physical health, emotional wellbeing, mental health, social life, education, employment and future opportunities of individuals, mainly of children and teenagers which are very vulnerable to these situations.

The lack of reasonable priced houses has lead severe consequences. More than two million of people have serious difficulties to pay their rent and/or mortgage, and have debts with banks, state agencies, and landlords. In addition, the number of forced evictions in the last years have grown scarily, as more homeowners fail to pay their mortgage and debts contracts with banks and other organisations. On the other hand, families and individuals with low income decide to rent privately and they manage to pay their rent; however, after paying their rent, they struggle to afford good living conditions and vital needs such as food, security, good sanity conditions, education, transport, heat, and water. Therefore, despite having a roof, they still living on bad conditions. All these has a very negative effect on the physical health, emotional wellbeing, mental health, social life, education, employment and future opportunities of individuals, mainly of children and teenagers which are very vulnerable to these situations.

All this may sound dramatic and heart breaking, but it is the truth. And it is not improving: it is actually going worse. The Southend YMCA’s staff member I spoke to told me that they have experienced an increase in the number of people using their services in the last years. Sadly, the waiting lists are very high and they have to reject people due to lack of units. However, the council has created a set of housing strategies for the next years, in order to tackle this issue. And Southend YMCA has also decided to develop their services and open two more houses. Hopefully, these solutions will work out and more people can be helped.

At the end of my visit, I was very pleased with the information I found out. Southend YMCA’s staff members were very helpful and they seemed passionate about their jobs. The person I got to spoke to in particular started in the charity as a volunteer, and then he was offered a job. He also spoke about how involved he is in fundraising activities such as “Sleep Easy”, a national initiative through which people raise money by sleeping rough one night, in order to show empathy with homeless people. And what is more, he highlighted how important my role as a Team v Leader is, saying “volunteering is golden and it will help you a lot in the future”.

On conclusion, I left Southend YMCA’s offices very pleased. Now, I’m looking forward to collect a lot of food for them, in order to support their amazing work.

Sharing my journey through my first Team v campaign,

Emilie H. Featherington 🙂 ❤

#RIPBilly: When Suicide is Apparent but Sadness is Unknown

Sometimes, I wonder if blogging about inspirational and motivational stuff is worth it. I just think that most things I blog about are common sense and everyone already knows them. “Who cares anyway?” are my thoughts when I don’t feel motivated enough to share another post. However, I always end up reading a new in media, or seeing a tweet in my timeline, and I remember why I’m doing this. This time, what remembered me why I’m doing this is the hastag #RIPBilly in Twitter. Billy was a 17 year old who committed suicide after leaving a series of clues in social media, mainly Instagram. He first disappeared from his country, USA, and was later found in a river in Canada. Here is a picture timeline of the events.

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(Clues left in Instagram)

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(Missing alert)

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(He was found)

When I first saw the hastag and the Instagram pictures in my timeline I was quite shocked. My first thought was “this a twitter troll”. Sadly, there are a lot of people in social media who like to fake suicide, mental health problems, and diseases for attention; sorry for my skepticism. Nevertheless, after going through the hastag, I realised the story was true, and it felt like a punch in my stomach. This sort of stories always make me feel like this, because suicide is preventable in most cases. I always wish I was there to help the person and share my advice and give them the strength I give to myself. I’m such a believer in hope, and I love spreading positivism with others. Negativity just knocks me down so much. This story knocked me down.

I was also puzzled by the fact that he left so many clues, but nobody seemed to help me. However, I won’t run and say “nobody cared about him”. People have already reached to those conclusions in social media, and this was a response from someone within Billy’s circle:

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I agree 100% with this note. Some people hide their sadness behind a smile, and you may never know about it till it is too late.

Suicidal thoughts are considered a mental illness, but that doesn’t mean that you commit suicide because something is not working in your brain. Sadness is a real killer. It is an emotion that drugs people to a point in which they can’t even help themselves. Calling people who commit suicide “coward”, “weak” or “selfish” is ignorant. Life is not brilliant for everyone. Not everyone has good things to look forward too. Not everyone is full of hope. Not everyone has someone to give them strength. Not everyone believes that things can get better. Life is life.  Everyone says it is worth living it. However, is a life full of struggle and tragedy really worth living? No. But you can always try and turn the struggle and tragedy into something positive. It is about perspective.

I always say that there is no point in living life if you are not happy. But in NO way I encourage suicide. What I mean is that if you aren’t happy, you need to change things in your life. Neutralise what is making you sad. Chuck it away. Block it. Run away from it. The real issue here is knowing how to do this… Not everyone finds a way. Billy didn’t. The rest of thousands of people who kill themselves every year don’t neither. And this is reason enough for me to keep this blog running.

From Billy’s story, we can all get a message: pay attention to what people say and do. You may think they are overreacting, attention-seeking, being dramatic etc; but sometimes, people NEED help and they feel embarrassed, helpless or alone, and they don’t want to ask for it. We have to learn to read between the lines. If you notice someone is sad, try to cheer them up, rather than just asking what is wrong. Make them feel loved and understood. Show them they aren’t alone. Actions speak louder than words. It doesn’t matter if the person is just your classmate, or someone you see in the bus stop every morning. The smallest actions also make people the happier, trust me. A simple “Hello, how are you?” can help. And if you think their problems are really severe, you shouldn’t hesitate in getting in contact with a professional and refer them. Counsellors and clinical psychologists exist for this sort of situations.

I will conclude this post saying that my thoughts and prayers are with Billy’s family and friends, who are probably having a horrible time accepting this. Billy was loved, as the following pictures prove. I suggest you have a look at the hastag #RIPBilly to read more from his friends and family.

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Sharing a true sad story,

Emilie H. Featherington ❤

#TeamVGo My Team v Leader Journal Part 2: Resi 1

Last weekend was probably one of the best weekends in ages: it was the first residential with Team v! (If you don’t know what “Team v” is or if you haven’t read part 1 of “My Team v Leader Journal”, I suggest you click in the following link first, and then comeback: https://findingmyselfinsideme.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/teamvgo-my-team-v-leader-journal-part-1-warm-up-day/)

The residential weekend took place in Starverton Park Hotel, Daventry (East Midlands, England), so I had to travel a LONG way to get there (I live in South East England). However, I don’t complain, because all that effort was worth it. Starverton Park is the nicest hotel I have ever been to: I absolutely loved it! The exterior design of the buildings suited very well the countryside landscape in which the hotel is set, meanwhile the interior design had a state-of-art touch ideal for any sort of events, conferences, training sessions and business meetings. The hotel had a remarkable service, with fitness and leisure facilities available to its residents, as well as various free coffee and tea machines available in every floor the building. Here are some pictures:

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Needless to say the Steam, Bake and Grill restaurant of the hotel was almost certainly my favourite thing. The food was delicious, and you could eat as much as you wanted! I went a bit over the top with my diet during those three days. But, who would have been able to resist? I mean, look at these pictures…

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(Example of breakfast)

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(Example of lunch)

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(Example of dinner)

You are probably wondering which was the actual purpose of the residential, because as I’m describing the situation, it seems I went there for relaxing holidays! But Team vresidential weekends are far away from being holidays: they are intensive learning weekends in which all the Team v leaders across the country (+100) are revealed the campaign they will work on during the following 2 months, and they are given specific and general training to carry out that campaign. This was the first residential of the year, and it lasted three days, from Friday the 17th to Sunday the 19th. On Friday, the campaign topic was revealed through this video, which I invite you all to check:

So yeah: #BeyondFood is the name of the first Team v campaign of 2014, and it will be focused on food poverty in UK: its causes, organisations trying to tackle it and food aid providers (e.g. food banks). I truly like this topic, because:

1) I’m a strong advocate of social inequalities (and poverty is a social inequality).
2) Food is a basic need nobody in this world should ever lack from, because it affects people’s intellectual, physical, emotional and social development.
3) I have been there: I have experienced food poverty, and though now I’m in a better situation, you don’t forget those sort of experiences. I know how it feels when nobody helps you, so I want to help others to cope better, as I wished someone would have helped me back in those days.
4) I want to unmask all the stereotypes associated with people who seek help from food aid providers, and make the public understand better the actual roots of food poverty.

To carry out this campaign, we received various training sessions from different professionals and organisations. Our first training session was with Church Action Poverty, a charity dedicated to raise awareness and to investigate the roots of poverty. This session gave us an insight into national statistics and figures about food poverty in UK, it explained the possible causes of food poverty, and it made us consider the different reasons why people are referred to foodbanks. I learned quite a lot from this session, since I had never before considered the possible impact of issues within the benefits system on this topic.

The next training sessions was with Oxfam, the renowned international charity that fights poverty across the whole globe, including UK. This session was about getting the attention of politicians for our campaigns through lobbying. I found this session useful but unexciting, since I will find very hard working with politicians and keeping my actual views silent. I’m not into politics nor I’m part of a political party, yet I have a very strong opinion about topics such as the welfare state or immigration. Moreover, my familiarity with the British politics system is null, so I will have to learn more about it.

The last training session of Friday was with the organisation Tower Hamlets Foodbank. We had two speakers: one who talked about how foodbanks work, and one who talked about her experience using a foodbank and the reasons why she had to use it. This was probably the best session of the day: it was heart-warming and eye-watering, and it gave me extra motivation to run a superb campaign in my local community to help others.

The rest of trainings of the weekend were less specific to food poverty and more general to our general role as Team v Leaders. We had training on: campaign planning, budgeting, PR, social media, evaluation and reflection, leadership, operating safely, community organising and public speaking. From all these training sessions, my favourite ones were leadership, community organising and public speaking. Leadership was very helpful, since it’s one of the skills I really want to improve during my Team v program. Community organising was empowering, because it made me feel that I can actually make a change, not only in my community, but also in the world. And public speaking was the highlight of the whole residential, the best training session without doubt. It boosted my self-confidence, receiving constructive criticism to improve my public speaking skills, both in formal and informal situations. Moreover, I was given positive feedback on qualities I didn’t even know I had, and that made me feel so good.

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Training session sneak pic: Evaluation & Reflection

After all these training sessions, I feel skilled enough to carry out the #BeyondFood campaign in my local community, and I can’t wait to put everything I have learnt into practice. The residential weekend did its job.

Apart from the educational aspect, the residential also had another aspect that made it the best weekend I have had in ages: the social aspect. I met so many awesome and fascinating people. On Friday morning, I felt so insecure and negative about the possibility of talking to others and making friends. However, those feelings vanished as soon as I met my lovely roommate, with whom I bonded instantly. From that moment, the real me, whom had been hiding somewhere since I came to England back in 2012, surfaced. And the weekend couldn’t have been any better. I engaged in interesting debates, I carried out deep conversations and I joined fun activities, all of it without the fear of being judged or being embarrassing. It is weird, I don’t think this happened because I’m finally feeling comfortable in England, since I still struggle to socialise in college. I think it happened because I was surrounded by likeminded people, who were all diverse but had the same willingness as me of striving for a better world.

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(Eating hours were probably the most social hours of the day!)

For instance, on Saturday night there was a silent disco, and I wasn’t afraid to dance as I wanted and to sing as I liked. And I have never EVER been able to do this before. Not even in Spain. The first impression you can get from me is that I am a quiet and shy girl who doesn’t like social events; sometimes this impression becomes true because I’m not able to feel comfortable or I don’t like the people I am surrounded by. But in reality, I speak a lot, I’m funny and a sassy wannabe at times, and I have one of the craziest minds ever, though I’m a reflective and deep person who sometimes loves being alone and reading a book or listening to music in peace. That’s “me”, and I’m so glad I showed that “me” during the whole residential. In addition, I made so many friends I want to preserve: people different to me, with whom I had some of the finest days ever, with whom I share interests and ideas, who inspire me in diverse ways, and whom I want near, because I believe our friendship/acquaintance will make me a better person.

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Silent disco night!

On conclusion: the first residential weekend for the Team v program was absolutely magnificent. I feel a much more cultivated person now than a week ago (a week ago!) and my motivation to follow my dreams and to achieve my goals has never been bigger. Now, I believe that a better world is possible, because I’m not the only one striving for it. The training sessions didn’t only educate me, but also inspired me to continue learning and to overcome barriers affecting my development, such as low self-confidence. Now I must focus on carrying out the #BeyondFood campaign in my area, which is going to be a difficult but enjoyable challenge.

Also, the people I met gave me both indirectly and directly advice and guidance for life, and I believe I can count on them when I need it, as well as they can count on me. Now that the residential is over, I’m kinda empty: I miss all those people who went from being simple strangers to close friends in just a few days (I probably also feel empty because no delicious cakes!). I miss the meaningful conversations and the amusing moments: I wish these would have been eternal (they will actually be in my mind). But the residential is over, and I’m back from the world as it should be to the world as it is.

Sharing my experiences,

Emilie H. Featherington

(PS: If you would like to know more about the #BeyondFood campaign, visit the following link: http://chroniclesofarhaceisoul.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/beyondfood-food-poverty-campaign/)

Life Isn’t About Waiting For The Storm To Pass; It Is About Learning To Dance In The Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it is about learning to dance in the rain.”

This quote is a kind of metaphor: it refers to life problems as a storm, while dancing would be having a good time, and the rain, again, would be life problems.

I agree with this quote because life is continuous storm and if you just wait for it to end, you will miss out the best moments you could ever experience. When something bad is happening, you can’t just sit and wait for a random solution. You need to act, in a way or another. If that bad something is affecting your emotions deeply, letting your soul to be consumed by depression and anxiety isn’t the answer. Everyone is entitled to be sad, as much as everyone is forced to get up afterwards. Falling is an option; getting up is imperative. Bereavement, heartbreak, abuse, traumatic experiences, illness…. These situations can be devastating, over analysing them is normal, and feeling horrible about them is human. However, you need to be able to see the light through the pain, and carry on with life. It is difficult, but it is worth it.

One of my idols, Miley Cyrus, said once a phrase related to this topic, which I like very much: “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.” This is so true. If you see all grey, and reality is grey, your life will be grey. In contrary, if you see all bright, even though the reality is grey, your life will be bright. Life is about perspectives and opinion: you are who determines a situation as positive or as negative.

However, in spite of everything I said above, I believe that negative moments and feelings need exist. It may sound awful, but that is how I see it. This is something I call, “The Positives and Negatives Balance”. You need negative feelings to experience positive feelings. I made a list of some examples so you can understand what I’m trying to say. This list isn’t exhaustive, and you can try to add your own thoughts on the comments belows:

“Without dark, you would never notice the light.
Without cruelty, you would never value kindness.
Without selfishness, you would never be glad about generosity.
Without bad people, you would never recognise the importance of good people.
Without pain, you would never understand comfort.
Without disease, you would never appreciate good health.
Without sadness, you would never perceive happiness.
Without death, you would never comprehend the meaning of life.
Without tears, you would never be aware of the power of a smile.
Without mistakes, you would never learn.
Without bitterness, you would never taste sweetness.
Without going backwards and evaluating your past, you would never go forwards and have a better present.
Without nightmares, you would never be happy about sweet dreams.
Without noise, you would never grasp silence.
Without heartbreak, you would never take care of your heart.
Without emotional breakdowns, you would never be thankful for ecstasy moments.
Without anger, you would never distinguish calm.
Without conflicts, you would never welcome harmony.
Without stress, you would never acknowledge relax.
Without betrayal, you would never be grateful for trust.
Without difficulties and effort, you would never be pleased about trophies.
Without storms, you would never dance.”

Reflecting a bit on life,

Emilie H. Featherington

Academically Wise, This May Have Just Been An Incredible Year For Me

2013/2014 was a great academic year for me. Probably the best in my whole life. When I was in Spain, I was an average student: my grades weren’t bad, neither they were excellent. My overall average mark from secondary school was 7 /10 (C+/B-). I had 9s (As) in some subjects and I had 5s (Ds) in others. Nevertheless, I passed all of them and I was ready to start baccalaureate. However, just when I finished my last year of secondary school, I moved to England and things changed quite a lot. The educational systems in Spain and in England are very different, though I must admit, I prefer the English one, because there are more opportunities and a wider range of options of things you can do after secondary school, not just baccalaureate (the equivalent to A-levels). Not everyone is able to cope with the stress that exams cause, and having options such as coursework based subjects e.g. BTECs, or practical work based courses, e.g. apprenticeships, is really good.

I don’t know if those options exist in Spain, but I can assure you everyone is normally forced or pushed into baccalaureate, and other career pathways are hardly promoted. In contrary, in England there are several ways to start up your career and there is a lot of emphasis on getting skills through work experience, placements and volunteering. I wish Spain had this emphasis too, because theory is as important as practice. Okay, I better go back to the main point of this post: 2013/2014. This was my last year in a BTEC Level 3 course, finishing my Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care. I ended up achieving D*D*D*, which is amazing! Although my desired career is not within the health and social care area, this BTEC will give me a lot of UCAS points for university (420), which is perfect, since most universities ask for between 240 and 360 points!

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Moreover, I did a total of 100 hours of work experience in two pre-schools during the course (which I loved by the way: I adore kiddies!) and I’m equipped with a lot of knowledge that allows me to find a job in every sort of health and social care settings. The diploma will be perfect to find a part-time job whilst studying in university and as insurance in case I can’t find a job with my degree in the future.

Apart from the BTEC, I also did AS Biology during 2013-2014. After my two exams in June, I entered in a state of anxiety for 2 months. I wasn’t very confident about my performance; the only thing that made me feel a bit confident and calm was the A in my coursework, as my biology tutor estimated. But the coursework was just 20% of the whole grade, so I couldn’t help but feel fearful till the 14th of August, the day in which I was given my exams results. I still remember my uneasy journey to college in the , alone in the bus, messaging my friends to find confidence somewhere. And I still recall my shock when I opened the envelope and saw “A” as my overall grade. I started trembling because I couldn’t believe I had As in my two exams! The feeling of disbelief was soooooo real.

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When I started AS Biology one year ago, everyone doubted me, including myself. I had U in my first biology test ever and my predicted grade was E. However, little by little, I started to improve. From Us I went to Es and Ds. From Es and Ds I went to Cs. And from Cs, I went to Bs and As. I honestly thought I wouldn’t have more than a B in AS Biology, but I have been able to prove myself wrong, and that’s one of the best feelings ever. As you have read, my grades for the academic year 2013/2014 were pretty awesome! But things didn’t end up there: I received an outstanding achievement award in college two weeks ago, something I didn’t expect at all! I just received a letter during summer and I was like “What?! Why?! What?!”. I didn’t even know why I was receiving the award till the night of the ceremony. My tutor wrote this about me (I’m Emily N):

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Here is me with the award:

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Awesome, isn’t it? This is my first award EVER and I’m actually so proud about it. It is not about bragging or about being an excellent student: it is about overcoming a lot barriers during the last few years. You can’t imagine how difficult is moving of country at the age of 16, just when you have to choose your future and everything should be stable. It is even more difficult when you can’t trust people in your surroundings and you aren’t able to speak up for yourself. It is even more difficult when your confidence is nowhere to be found and you allow yourself to be manipulated for the interest of others. Getting an A in Biology ended those difficulties. And receiving the outstanding achievement award reinforced my inner belief of being able to decide by myself what’s best for me.

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At the end of the day, I only do things for me: I stopped trying to make my parents and relatives proud time ago (if I ever tried). Everything I do (getting a job, having good grades, doing voluntary work, playing basketball), is for MYSELF (except for voluntary work, which is also to help others, but you know what I mean). Because this is my life and I will manage it. Since I was little, due to my “abnormal” upbringing, I knew I couldn’t rely on others in order to succeed and be happy. My childhood made me a very independent and autonomous person: I work perfectly on my own and I’m able to take care of myself. I’m not a family person and I like having my own space, which is why I can’t wait to start university and move away from home. And this explains why I have made a lot of effort in college, since my grades are my passport to university.

On conclusion: academically wise, this may have just been an incredible year for me. I’m not a “nerd”, nor I’m very intelligent: I’m just conscientious, because I know what I want and I know how much I have to work in order to achieve it. Luckily, all the hard work paid off. And this has not only improved my future prospects: it has boosted my confidence for life in general. Let’s be real: an award is just an award. Certificates are just certificates. Objects you will keep in your bedroom and admire now and then. What it is important is what is behind that awards and certificates. Dedication. Commitment. Determination. Having an award doesn’t make you more successful than others. A lot of people deserve awards and go unnoticed. Success isn’t measured by awards. Success is measured by levels of dedication, commitment and determination. You won’t always get recognised for your hard work and you should be completely okay with that. Because objects can be broken and lost: but your hard work will be your hard work forever and always. Hugs and love, Emilie H. Featherington  x