Learning skills for life
Learning skills for life
BY OLIVER PIKE
I was brought up in suburban England and the attraction of spending three months on the Quest Africa spring programme in the Zimbabwean bush was irresistible. I had just left Tonbridge School where I was head boy. The idea of being a pioneer as the first UK student at Quest was an awesome challenge, and the prospect of all I could learn and experience in Africa filled me with hope and excitement.
I had never been in the bush before, so every day came with new components to learn and appreciate. I fell in love with the Zimbabwean way of life and I was envious of the other members of the course for having been brought up in what seems to me like a paradise. Factual learning was a key component of the course - from birds to mechanics. I also discovered a huge amount about myself, and I now have a new appreciation of what life offers.
The aspect of the course that made every experience all that much better was the hands-on approach to everything. In England, we are often restricted by work regulations. In Zimbabwe we were thrown in at the deep end and told to get on with tasks on our own. As a result I feel I have gained huge self-confidence and trust in my ability to go about my daily life no matter what it brings.
The abundance of factual knowledge that we were exposed to fascinated me throughout the course. From the natural side to technical subjects, especially plumbing, electrics and mechanics, it was extremely helpful. I now intend to study mechanical engineering at university.
Being in the bush made me appreciate the beauty of wherever I was: the spiritual granite outcrops of the Matopos, fly fishing in Nyanga and spending a night on a kapenta rig on Lake Kariba. Dark orange sunrises, pink sunsets and millions of stars accompanied the spectacular landscape. They will stay in my memory for ever.
I had three months to develop relationships with people I had never met before. I realised a lot about how we perceive and judge others. On the course, guys are pushed in areas so that they change for the better. It was rewarding to be part of a team like this when we achieved our goals and overcame barriers.
Coming on Quest is quite possibly the best decision I have ever made. I will struggle to find anywhere else in the world where I will be able to learn as much in such a short period. I leave Africa with an incredible network of friends as well as memories and life experiences that I will never forget.
FACT FILE - What is Quest Africa?
What is Quest Africa
Quest Africa uses an ‘action-learning’ approach that provides school leavers and young people with an opportunity to discover who they are and where they want to go in life.
Who can apply
Quest Africa courses are open to young men and women aged 17-22 who are looking for adventure and a productive gap year. Quest enjoys participants from as far afield as New Zealand, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Conservation and community projects Quest Africa programmes support a variety of community and conservation based projects in the areas where they operate, where the participants practice newly learnt practical and business skills. We encourage social responsibility toward the environment and underprivileged communities.
Where is Quest Africa
The Quest ‘campus’ extends across five southern African countries. From the open plains of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, and the tropical forest dunes of Kaba Valley on the South African coast to the more remote oceans and beaches of Mozambique and Lake Malawi. Quest offers a world of new experiences and adventure - white water rafting at Victoria Falls, adventure hiking and camping in remote wildernesses, scuba diving and sailing in tropical oceans and lakes.
Look out for the next edition of Zambezi Traveller (September 2014) as we follow the progress of two students on the Quest Africa Spring Programme 2014.
More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Victoria Falls News