Rachel Azzopardi has been awarded a Footprinter Grant to head to Otjikondo School in Nambia for the 2019/20 academic year. Otjikondo School is very special to Hazel’s Footprints as this is where Hazel herself spent her gap year. We continue to support Otjikondo with an annual grant, and we are thrilled when we can also provide some assistance to those planning to dedicate a year of their lives to the school. Good luck Rachel!
Report by Rachel Azzopardi ahead of her year at Otjikondo School
After our week of training in Coll I can say now that I’ve never been more nervous yet excited for something in my life. It feels like only a week ago I was sitting at my desk writing an application for Project Trust only to be surprised to receive an invitation to come to the Isle of Coll for a selection week with twenty four other hopefuls. The week was exhausting with many challenges that I had never faced before. The idea of turning up at the ferry terminal and knowing not a single person, made me absolutely terrified. After all, I have been sitting comfortably in the same circle of reliable friends for years. The week was tough and very confusing as I tried to make one of the biggest decisions of my life so far.
When I received my acceptance letter in October I was quick to accept. If I had declined, I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life. However, the time after this was filled with contradicting feelings of worry, excitement, pessimism and positivity. I would go through periods of raving to my friends about the adventures I would have over the year to asking myself what on earth have I got myself into?
The real turning point for me was a call from my country coordinator Jordan at the beginning of 2019. She told me that Project Trust had selected me for a specific project based in Otjikondo, Namibia and sent me lots of information and pictures. With the original intention to go to Malawi it was quite a shock but with every bit of information Jordan gave about the project I got more and more excited about the project until it was decided, I was going to Namibia!
The preparation steps up in Coll
It all felt very surreal until I spent my second week in Coll on the training course for Namibia, Ghana, Botswana and Dom Rep. Having already made contact online with my Country partner, the pressure was a little less intense. However there was still the worry it would be different in real life. Far from it! We got on great in training. If I was to give anyone advice about their country partner it would be that honesty is key! Really understanding someone you are suddenly supposed to live with in such a close relationship is so important!
Training has instilled so much confidence in my teaching, communicating and for the challenges that lay ahead. This is thanks to the amazing team who support you with no judgment involved! Most importantly it’s made be feel so positive about the year ahead and desperate to get out there as soon as possible!
Expectations for my year
So, what do I think I’ll get out of this year? It’s impossible to say how this year will turn out but I know what I’d like to get out of it. I know there will be many highs and lows but from these I hope to gain life skills I will take on for the rest of my life. Resilience, independence, responsibility, open-mindedness and a cultural awareness not many nineteen year olds will ever have, along with the many other skills I will gain.
I hope to gain a friend for life and a home away from home. If I can give a fraction of the benefits I will get out of this experience to my pupils, I’ll be thrilled. I’m so truly grateful I have been lucky enough to have been given this opportunity.
I would like to give a massive thank you to Hazel’s Footprints Trust who so generously donated to allow me to take on this adventure. I’m really looking forward to writing lots more reports for them to help encourage more people to grasp these sorts of opportunities before they are lost!