Written by Bethany Bristow
BA (Hons) Communication & Media
I’m about to let you on to what I like to call one of BU’s little secrets. This little secret can give you a big opportunity to chase your dreams and fulfil your wanderlust desires, and the crazy thing is, from people I have spoken to, not many people even know this exists.
This best kept secret, is called Global Horizons Fund and it has enabled me to travel to destinations around the world and volunteer without having to pay a single penny from my own back pocket. Destinations I would never believe I’d be able to discover at such a young age, in fact even at all in my lifetime. In 2015 last year, I was sitting in a lecture whilst checking through my recent emails when suddenly an email came through confirming how my recent application form to go and volunteer in Thailand had been accepted. Can you believe it! I still can’t now. I couldn’t keep in the shock or excitement as my smile beamed from ear to ear. The money for flights and living costs were put into my bank and I had a flight booked to leave in June, to volunteer in a farm and help build a school in Thailand.
Global Horizons Fund is a pot of money put aside by BU, designed to help students to be able to volunteer, study or work abroad. It is a programme set up to help students discover the world, help build their cultural awareness and have the opportunity to vastly enhance their CV, making you stand out amongst the crowd with employers. To be considered for the funding you have to find a suitable project or workplace and write 300 words on how it links with your course and how it will build your intercultural competence.
I travelled with a friend who also got accepted for funding and within two months, we were on a plane, still shell shocked that we were on our way to Thailand. For the first week, we volunteered on a farm just north of Bangkok in the countryside. Helping to care for abandoned animals and care for farm-life with the kindest Thai man, we made amazing friendships and gained an abundance of cultural knowledge, learning from the friendly locals their way of living. Moving down South, we then had the opportunity to volunteer in an eco-school, where we helped to build sustainable classrooms out of mud, bamboo and glass bottles deep in the rainforest. A learning adventure I’ll never forget and memories that will be with me for a lifetime.
I definitely feel like one of the luckiest students alive as this year, I decided to apply for the funding again but this time to teach English with an NGO in Peru, South America. I was certain the funding wouldn’t be given to me a second time, but I couldn’t resist trying to apply again. Unbelievably, I managed to also receive the funding for this huge adventure and again I found myself on a plane travelling across the world to a dream destination to teach English to Spanish children, something I have always wanted to do. Working a part time job up until the flight, I managed to save enough money so I could also complete the 4-day Inca Jungle Trek in Peru and end climbing Machu Picchu, which I can admit has to be one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life.
Teaching was an invaluable experience where I was able to build upon my Spanish, and also learn that I now want to work with children in the future. After three weeks, I had built bonds with the children who do not receive English as a lesson in their curriculum and to see them so grateful for learning, was a heart-warming experience that I will never forget.
If wandering the world, tasting new delicacies, exploring different cultures, meeting new, interesting friends and developing yourself as a human being is something you’d like to be a part of, then you cannot miss out this opportunity of applying for global horizons fund. I am eternally grateful for the experiences it has given me whilst at university and it has given me an itch to keep unearthing more incredible destinations and work around the world.