I started my Churchill Fellowship trip and this blog with excitement and enthusiasm. I was completely unprepared for the journey but at the same time quite well prepared.

The purpose of the trip is detailed in this blog and here is a little more information about me.

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The easy part to explain is the “quite well prepared” part. As a Girl Guide I fully embraced the motto Be Prepared and never forgot it. Since I have travelled a lot in the UK I have learnt which things I can change and which I have to accept, and which I can prepare for. So in some ways I was over prepared for this trip.

I lived, studied and worked in South Africa for 27 years before moving to the UK. I had never left SA till I was 22 and had 2 trips in a year: firstly to Harare, Zimbabwe, and secondly to Belgium, Germany and the UK. Both were as a result of my graduate hire job with IBM. Just as those and subsequent trips abroad did not fully prepare me for living in the UK, my many trips around the UK and forays into Europe could not have prepared me for my first encounter with North America. A dear friend, who is a far more experienced traveller than I, tried to give me strong hints into the differences. An American who I met in Scotland when we were both living in Edinburgh, she has travelled both within the US and widely in Europe and the rest of the globe so was very wise in her advice but I could not properly appreciate it until arriving.

This brings me to my first realisation of the value of the Churchill Fellowship with its motto Travel to learn – return to inspire. I could only learn how different it is by being here, and by learning as much as possible I hope to inspire others to learn too and aspire to more, and apply to be a Churchill Fellow too. My interview for the Churchill Fellowship encouraged me to reflect on who Churchill was to me. One of the insights I gained was that whilst I first knew of him as the war time prime minister, my first connection with him was in history text books as a child where they mentioned him being captured in the Boer War and acting as a war time correspondent writing about his experiences. I was reminded of this with the many firsts I have experienced in this journey – just as I boarded Amtrak for the first time, Churchill must have first sailed to South Africa full of ideas and expectations which probably never made it past the shores of England fading away.

Over the past few weeks I have realised that another privilege of the fellowship is the luxury of time. Time to reflect and learn, time to catch buses and trains rather than cabs and planes and thus discover more about each city and the country. Time to divert because someone recommended seeing something or speaking to someone new. Time to have dinner or coffee. And all this time has given me a complete overwhelm of learning which has resulted in the blog taking a while to create as I process everything. It is being released in a time delay.

One of the tools I use with most of the social entrepreneurs I work with is the Gallup CliftonStrengths and one of my dominant strengths is Learner. This means that I not only love to learn but I also love to share what I have learnt. As a result this blog should have a warning about being fairly random in topics.

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Over the past few weeks I have realised that another privilege of the fellowship is the luxury of time. Time to reflect and learn, time to catch buses and trains rather than cabs and planes and thus discover more about each city and the country. Time to divert because someone recommended seeing something or speaking to someone new. Time to have dinner or coffee. And all this time has given me a complete overwhelm of learning which has resulted in the blog taking a while to create as I process everything. It is being released in a time delay.