London welcomed the world as scholars from 141 countries and territories arrived at the ExCeL centre to begin an exciting year studying in the UK on Saturday, 12 October.
Eight of my best Orientation moments
In the weeks since Orientation 2019, scholars have had the chance to step back and reflect on Orientation, and meeting 1,750 scholars from 141 countries and territories around the world.
For some, the best moments consisted of seeing those they hadn’t seen since leaving their home countries, and for others, it meant meeting new people to form friendships with.
We would like to think however, that for all, it was a worthwhile day where they came out of the event with more positivity and optimism than they went in with.
Below, we take a look at some of the defining moments for eight of our scholars, including a feature by HM The Queen who was definitely not in attendance at Orientation 2019 (although, we would definitely be open to hosting Her Majesty).
1. A LIFE-CHANGING EVENT
James Earn Esperida, Philippines
‘The Chevening Orientation was packed with life-changing moments. I met and connected with fellow scholars from different parts of the globe, and I witnessed that no matter how diversified we are, we have a shared vision of making a change in the world. Also, the speakers were great and added to my inspiration.
Moreover, they provided a special arrangement for persons with disabilities. During the networking session, I was in a room with an audio loop that modulated the speakers’ voices. Most of all, the sharing of different perspectives in education policy and governance is a good start for the networking opportunities that we will build for a lifetime.’
Rawan Al Faqir, Jordan
‘When we gathered as Jordanian Cheveners at Orientation, I was delighted to see that our team was mostly females.’
3. THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY OR ORIENTATION?
Sunjolinet Bora, Cambodia
‘Before coming to Orientation, I felt like I was just an international student. However, Orientation made me feel special – I was now a real Chevening Scholar.
The best part of the day for me, was when everyone showed their own countries’ flags and shouted out their countries’ name. I could feel that everyone was really proud of where they had come from.
In that moment, I felt very grateful as I was able to witness the harmonious phenomenon where most countries around the world were able to come together. It was as if that moment was a de-facto United Nations General Assembly meeting!
Thank Chevening for making the best Orientation happen for the class of 2019.
4. UNITY THROUGH MUSIC
Lanvell Blake, Jamaica
‘”One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
Bob Marley could not have summed it up better. With that said, it may (or not) be obvious that my “best Orientation moment” was the Caribbean islands’ rendition of “Three Little Bird” – a song by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Music unites a nation. This love for the beat of reggae, dancehall, calypso, and soca brings Caribbean people together more than anything else could (perhaps also food… everyone sure does love a good jerk chicken/pork, doubles, or pepperpot).
For me, this moment of unison moved beyond the mere voices coming together for a sound pleasing to the ear. The spontaneous nature in which this happened signalled something deeper. Personally, it made me realise that there are far more things that exist in this world that can bring us together, than there are things that can, or should divide us.
It gave me hope. The kind of hope that says, when we come together and put to the side race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, we can co-exist and create beautiful things.
If one song can bring out the pride of so many nations, imagine what we can achieve if we join forces together, speak on one accord, lock hands and hearts in the movement to advance ourselves, our communities, and our country. What the world needs is love. Bob Marley & the Wailers summed it up best; “One love, one heart, let’s get together, and feel alright”.’
Video courtesy of Tishauna Mullings, Jamaica
5. SAME SPOT, NEW SCHOLAR
Riska Purnawati Salam, Indonesia
‘Last year, I was scrolling through my social media feeds, and saw the Chevening Orientation 2018 posts. At that time, imagining myself to be there at the event, and taking similar photos was such wishful thinking. But, nothing is impossible!
On 12 October 2019, together with the other 1749 people from 142 countries, we gathered in ExCeL London to commemorate the start of an exciting journey as Chevening Scholars. People were so excited, wearing their traditional clothes, waving their country flags, and of course taking photos!
I took a picture on the same spot as the Instagram post that I saw the previous year. The fact that I was there, at Chevening Orientation 2019, as a Chevener still feels surreal.
The energy and enthusiasm that the scholars brought was reflected on the atmosphere. It was full of hopes, dreams, excitement, and determination. And that was something that you will not find elsewhere.’
6. MOBILISE SCHOLARS
Lydet Pidor, Cambodia
‘The best moments for me from Orientation was when I met with the Cambodian cohort, and met many Cheveners from other nationalities during the networking sessions.
Although we are all from the same scholarship programme, there would be no way for every Chevener to meet one another in such big groups without Orientation. Orientation and Farewell will be the only ways for all Cheveners to mobilise together and network.’
Alamoni Grace Nafe, Tonga
‘I still have moments where I can’t believe I’m a Chevener! Being surrounded by amazingly talented and exceptional individuals from all over the world really had me thinking, “Wow, to be absolutely honest, this is a little intimidating”.
However, I’ve met people who are in the same boat and felt the same way I felt, and this has really put me at ease. These people are my fellow Pacific Cheveners, and my favourite Orientation moment was seeing all my fellow Pacific Island Cheveners again!
Coming to the UK from the other side of the world (literally), most people have never even heard of our respective Pacific countries of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
Our catch-up conversations started off with jokingly asking each other, “How many people have you met in the UK that knows where your island is?” Turns out, a few people knew where Fiji is (because of Fiji Water) as well as Samoa (because of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). I guess the rest of us need to work more on promoting our islands!
No doubt, it is daunting to be so far away from the sunshine and the warm weather of our Pacific islands. However, we are united in our Pacific heritage and values, and we do not feel alone. Coming together as Pacific Cheveners, we bring to the table our dreams and ambitions of making our respective countries a better place. #WeArePasifika #WeAreChevening #OurPacificJourney’
8. HM THE QUEEN AND ORIENTATION
Dito Yohanes Nindito Adisuryo, Indonesia
‘Two days after Orientation, Chevening enabled me to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would not have happened without Orientation on Saturday – seeing HM the Queen of the UK and other Commonwealth Realms, at the State Opening Day of the Parliament.
I saw her boarding the Royal Britannia Coach with two other members of Royal Family – HRH Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, when returning from the Palace of Westminster to Buckingham Palace.
It was especially surprising and a blessing, because I thought Parliament’s Opening Day was on Sunday and this was Monday!
As I love taking photos wherever I travel, I just had a free sightseeing walking tour around the heart of London before I had to catch the train back to my place in Edinburgh. I was informed that the Queen and HM Guards would pass the mile near Buckingham Palace from Westminster after she opened the new UK Parliament – a very unique British tradition.
Thus, I made my way there and I got the only photo of the Queen I could take from my camera, due to the mesmerising atmosphere during that moment. I did however, take some other photos of HM Horse Guards and Foot Guards – again, these all are very British experiences, and I was more than happy to see them all!
I will never forget that Monday after Chevening’s Orientation where I could be among 1,750 global scholars in London. Thank you very much, Chevening!’
Thank you to all of our scholars who submitted pictures and stories to this theme.
For submissions to future scholar blogs, please find full details including current themes in the scholar Facebook group and in your monthly Scholargram newsletters.
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