Six months ago, these women were complete strangers brought together and bonded by their statuses as recipients of the prestigious Chevening scholarship award administered by the British High Commission in their respective countries and being scholars at Cardiff University.
In high spirits and animated conversation, the ladies took time out from the demanding school assignments to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD2020) under the theme #EachforEqual.
The day was an opportunity to take stock of their individual journeys and appreciate the role each plays in not just advancing their own interests but being a pillar to the next person to aid them in realizing their own goals.
The Ivy restaurant with its impressive botanical garden themed décor provided the perfect setting to indulge in the English old tradition of high tea.
Tucking into an array of savory and sweet treats including warm fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, potted chocolate and caramel, cucumber sandwiches and tea selections the ladies were divided into the topic of support.
Agreeing that it takes giving and receiving support to accomplish one’s set goals; Patience Nyange – An International Public Relations and Global Communications Management scholar and celebrated media personnel from Kenya, reminded the group of the importance of extending oneself to others.
“Support means recognizing that others can benefit from your time and skills hence my passion for mentorship. There is power in holding others by the hand and imparting whatever knowledge one has”.
Nyange is proud of a mentorship program she set up a few years ago that has had a solid record of producing and aiding highly driven young women to navigate both the social and professional areas of their lives. “One must always be cognizant of where they are in their life journey and who they are grooming into that position.
As we grow, we cannot expect to remain the same so it is vital to build one’s legacy and ensure the elevation of others into the positions we are graduating from.
They too will guide those coming after them. This is a cycle of support I subscribe to as I too have had amazing women guiding me,” she said.
The bestowed Cardiff Chevening resident medical doctor; Pamela Wanjira who is studying for an MSc Clinical Dermatology also reiterates the same sentiments as her housemate and country fellow and says, “One’s overall wellbeing is key as it affects every aspect of one’s life. Although no one is perfect, one must strive to be the best version of themselves”.
Wangari reinforces the need to take care of one’s mental health as well as one’s physical being.
“These go a long way in ensuring one is able to be productive. Being supportive entails ensuring that as a caregiver, friend, sister, parent and in this case a fellow scholar, we strive to be mindful of others’ needs. Not just the physical but also the emotional. A school like all other responsibilities one may have, can be demanding and being away from home can compound the stress and cause added pressure to one’s overall wellbeing hence offering an ear or shoulder to lean on can be the best way to support and receive support from others,” notes Wanjira
Citing the perfect example, Computing, and IT Management scholar; Nino Gorgiashvilli from Georgia says although work and indeed learning environments can be particularly competitive, appreciating each other’s strengths and weaknesses can provide room to be more compassionate and supportive.
Another scholar, Anna Celac jumps in to add, “Not forgetting that when you look good and feel good, it is easier to ooze confidence. Confidence stimulates self-assurance and when one is self-assured, they are more likely to extend themselves to others”.
She beams widely. Celac has embraced her role in the group as a personal shopper and stylist due to her love for shopping and acquiring beautiful things.
Also an International Public Relations and Global Communications Management scholar, she is fiercely passionate about changing the narrative of the girl child.
“It is not just girls whose interests I take to heart, but I do feel an enormous responsibility to extend myself especially to young women. The world can be daunting and unforgiving to less assured individuals”.
Celac says as a young woman growing up in Moldova, it seemed opportunities were far in between and meant for other people and so there were not many role models to look up.
Hence as an assertive individual with a keen interest in people, Celac was humbled to discover that in what came naturally to her; engaging with others and offering encouragement many would go on to consider her an inspiration.
“This fueled me to work even harder at the plans I have for myself. Knowing that as I pursue them others will be encouraged to also go after that which they wish for. Now that is support. Doing it while looking one’s best is certainly the cherry on top”.
Like the rest of the group, I marveled at how a group of diverse individuals from different parts of the world and backgrounds can wish the same for the world we live in; where everybody does their part in elevating others through pure support of the human race no matter where one is from.