2016/2017 winners reports

South Africa - Lucy Cheshire

Fri, 16 Jun 2017

Dear Neil,

Sorry it has taken so long to write to you, but I am really loving South Africa. Working with special needs children has proved to be an eye-opening and joyful experience that has been more incredible than I could have possibly hoped for. I am so grateful to the Bulkeley-Evans HMC scholarship fund for helping give me this opportunity.

I am extremely busy out here, we work from 7:00am to 5:00pm with a half hour break but being busy doesn't matter much as we are always having lots of fun and it is clear that we are making a difference in these kids lives, showing them lots of love and kindness and teaching them how to play and socialise with other people is a huge challenge but so rewarding when they take on board something that you have taught them. I have also had the privilege of watching a child with non-verbal autism learn to speak, he is learning slowly but surely and he is turning out to be a real comedian! I have had many dancing and singing parties with the kids, helped to organise a Christmas concert and had an amazing time all round. Thank you so much for aiding me in coming here I wouldn't want to be anywhere else on my gap year.
I have attached some pictures of my year and you can also look at my Facebook page, Lucy's year at Mitchell House for more details.

Yours Sincerely,





My time in Albania! - Elizabeth Watts

10 Jun 2017

Dear Mr Mason

Thank you for your kind email! Sorry I have taken so long to reply.

Since my last email I spent more time in Albania. Here every night we spent time running a children/youth programme. During this time we played many games, invested time in each of the youth, getting to know and loving on each of them. We met some at their school break time and got to talk to some of their friends.
On weekends we helped at the local church running services, giving talks and leading worship.
We also spent time in the local Roma village, giving out ballon animals, face painting and talking to the locals. This was an amazing time as we began to make relationships with people they invited us into there work places, and as a place of hospitality gave us food and gifts.

In Bulgaria, the time consisted of visiting many Roma Villages, and serving at 4 different churches. We were involved many prayer meetings, spending time serving the host who lives long term there and also having the opportunity to help at Bulgaria Day celebration of Cyrillic language Parade. This was brilliant as the Bulgarian people were so passionate in celebrating there culture, that the atmosphere was incredible. Personally I got to assist in carrying some banners, handing out flyers and I toke part in a country wide prayer meeting with 400 others
As I said in my previous email we went to an orphanage, this was a special needs orphanage, so my time here was a highlight. The children's stories are horrible to hear as disabilities, as you may know, are seen as a shame to the family. So having I would say, the privilege to spend time with them was as joy giving to me as I hope it was to them. We gave them many gifts and snacks to enjoy, such an amazing time!

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Chile Update - Oli Reid

Thu, 20 Apr 2017

Dear Mr Mason,

I hope you are well! Sorry to have not updated you since last year it has been a very busy time with the South American summer holidays and then getting back into a new school year!

From December until the end of February is when Chile and the majority of Latin America take their Summer holidays. This gave me and my friends out here a great chance to travel. We headed down to Patagonia, the very tip of South America, before Christmas and then onto Peru and Bolivia after New Year, where we flew to Lima and then bused all the way back to Chile over two months. It was the most incredible three months and I feel so lucky to have seen and experienced so much in that short time.

Since March, we (Patrick, my project partner and I) have been back hard at work teaching English at the school, which has been great to return to, however a little complicated due to my boss becoming pregnant and therefore having to work with lots of different people over recent weeks. That said, it gives us more responsibility given we know the kids now. I have even been tasked with taking many more entire lessons on my own recently. There have been lots of events, including Easter celebrations and School sports day (where I enjoyed a nice run up and down the coast helping the children).

My Spanish has been coming on after having no choice but to learn it in a country which speaks little to no English! Although Chile has been named as the hardest place in the world to learn the language (due to their accent and slang), they say if you can speak it here, you can speak it anywhere!

I have really been getting into life here and with only just over three months left (3rd August!) it has suddenly hit that I don't have long remaining of this incredible experience! It is hard to believe how fast this year has gone. We are just going into the winter months in Chile which get get very very cold! It will be a big difference to the constant sun and heat I have had since arriving.

I want to thank you hugely again for awarding me the scholarship and making this year possible for me!

Kind regards,

Oli Reid

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South Africa Update - Oliver Rhodes

Wed, 29 Mar 2017

Dear Mr Mason,

As my time in Cape Town draws to a close (I fly out in 4 days!) I struggle to believe nearly 3 months have already past.
But they always say time flies when you're having fun. I have successfully ticked off all the things I wanted to do in this city and the surrounding area and yet that has only exposed me to the abundance of things I have as yet not explored.

On my final weekend before I left the school I went hiking with Ms Solomons (the music teacher) and 2 of the sports teachers in the Hottentots Holland National Park. We spent 3 days trekking through the fynbos (South Africa's uniquely dense, razor-sharp bush), staying in huts with mattresses, a stove and not much else. Braaing meat over a wood fire in the evenings offered a sort of wholesome satisfaction.

I have also, of course, climbed Table Mountain and intend to do so again on this, my final weekend. We have rounded the Cape Peninsula, bearing the winds at Cape Point and gazing at the magnificence of the view from Chapman's Peak; visited the city-centre, including Bo-Kaap, the Malay district whose coloured houses make for great photo opportunities! Urban South Africa can be maddening: you never feel safe walking on Long Street, the city's nightlife hub. Fights break out over pick pocketing and stolen petrol from gas stations; cars mash themselves together trying to squeeze through; men hang from balconies jeering. While the rural areas can be stunning, urban life is another world entirely.

My final day at the school was a party. The kids were in casual clothes and the teachers organised a tuck-shop and disco in the assembly hall. I had never seen them so ecstatic. I will really miss some of them, who showed real talent and whom I enjoyed teaching. I hope they continue with music when they go to high school.

I have since started at the journalism project, later than planned. As I only have two weeks, it's been hectic. I am working on an article about university tuition fees in South Africa - there were huge protests about these last year which resulted in riots, property damage and forced concessions by the state. My room mate