My April
Gabriel Torgbor-Ashong

Gabriel Torgbor-Ashong

Social Media Ambassador

April, spotlight month for me, as a Chevening Social Media Ambassador, started well, with 04/04/04, that is, Thursday, 4th April (2019), being the exact commemorative day of my birth. 

A year ago on same day in 2018, my quest to become a Chevening Scholar moved an inch forward as I attended the Chevening interview at the British High Commission in Accra. Passing the interview made it possible for this noble opportunity to study for a master’s degree at the world’s number one university for Development Studies (According to QS World University Rankings).

Much to my surprise, it’s already been seven months since I arrived in the UK and looking back brings good memories worth sharing with you.

As it were, beginning studies in a new environment, with teaching approaches quite different from what I was used to created a sense of anxiety, and fear that I might possibly get overwhelmed. But having a very experienced team of staff to guide, and supportive mates to collaborate on issues with, I soon became more confident and gained a strong foothold. 

Studies have been as expected, overall. Appropriately matching theory with practice such that I’m now able to film and edit with tools that I hitherto did not know how to use. More importantly, I’ve gained deep insights and a better appreciation of how to use Media to champion meaningful development. I sure will utilise these skills and knowledge to create a short audio-visual story about the Chevening Farewell event in a couple of months’ time. You definitely should look forward to it!

Between November 2018 and March 2019, I witnessed four major protests in Brighton: Drum out Abuse, Reclaim the night, and the Youth Strike for Climate in February and March. My participation, as a videographer, enabled me to pay attention to all the fine details. I watched closely as they marched on with banners and placards: drumming, chanting and singing. Having been a youth activist for the past 12 years, seeing and feeling the intense consciousness and commitment for a better society was worthy of note for things that connect us together as young people, irrespective of our backgrounds.

In line with this same quest for a better society for everyone, I participated in the Chevening Archer Project Scavenger Hunt, on 1 February, a very snowy day. Through this activity, we solicited and mobilised an appreciable number of essentials to cater for the basic needs of many homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield and its surroundings.

Going to the Chevening Best of British event, ‘York: City built on Chocolate’ on Friday, 26 April, brought good memories of home (Ghana). York is well known for its tasty chocolate, and the crop which makes this possible chiefly comes from my country. Learning about the production processes was revealing, tasting a variety of chocolates was refreshing, and knowing York adheres to Fairtrade principles in guaranteeing the best interests of cocoa farmers brought good feeling. The visit also brought me face-to-face with monuments that tell stories of centuries, like the city wall, the ruined Roman monastery and York Minster, whose east window is the largest in Europe. Read more about the day here.

Also, participating in the ‘Best of British presents: Westminster’ event was yet another great experience. Together with other Chevening colleagues, we toured the Houses of Parliament, cruised on the River Thames and ended with talks by experts Dr Claire Eustance and Darren Hughes on the past and future of UK politics.

Exploring the UK more, in my capacity as a Chevening Social Media Ambassador, with strong support from the SMA team and associates, including Susie, Libby, Burak, and Sally, and my fellow ambassadors, has been amazing. These events were but only for some hours. However, the friendship and networks established, deep knowledge gained about the UK and its cultural diversity, and memories created will stay with me for a lifetime.

I’ll leave the UK with thoughts that working systems, the timeliness of transport, the responsiveness of health workers and other service providers, all add up to bring convenience and a largely stress-free life.

Overall, this journey has been about people; their readiness to offer a helping hand when needed most, even by those I didn’t even know, has made life here more meaningful. The open door policy of lecturers, and the ever amazing team at the Chevening Secretariat, whose members work around the clock for our wellbeing, is worth highlighting. Friends within the Ghanaian community also treat me as special guest: calling, visiting, inviting me over and related other actions just to ensure all is well with me. 

In three words, my Chevening journey has been ‘educative’, ‘fun’ and ‘fulfilling’. Chevening is the best!