Adventure continues for Raleigh graduates
They may have graduated but for four alumni of Raleigh Bermuda, the journey continues.
This summer, Keri Pacheco and Neville Vanderpool will head overseas as project managers for Raleigh International, while David Simmons and Jawonday Smith are raising money themselves to travel back overseas as Raleigh venturers.
Tina Nash, executive director of Raleigh Bermuda, called them “dedicated to sustainable and personal development” — with David, 22, standing out as the first Bermudian to volunteer for a third time.
“These young Bermudians are living the dream for Raleigh Bermuda. We want them to continue to stay involved and to give back.”
Jawonday's Raleigh journey started with a speech at CedarBridge Academy by former executive director Kristen White, which “resonated with me”.
“I had friends who completed Raleigh and talked me into taking it further,” the 23-year-old said. He stuck with the programme after 2012, and has been working as a local project manager since 2014.
“My expedition gave me some of the greatest experiences of my life,” added Jawonday, who heads off next month to Borneo in Malaysia.
“As a community we really need young people with a worldly mindset. Raleigh goes from age 17 to 24. It's the most important time for development. If you want to make a change, I say join the programme.”
David, also headed to Borneo, was inspired by his brother's expedition to Namibia, plus another visit by Ms White, this time to the Berkeley Institute.
He travelled to Tanzania in 2013, and Nepal last year, where his interactions with village communities left badly damaged by earthquake were “beyond words”.
“The bonds that developed over those weeks were a beautiful thing,” he recalled.
Young people are accustomed to being told that they are the future, but for David, “we are the present — this is the time we have to stand up for what we believe in, to try new things”.
Keri, 26, is also headed to Borneo to manage the expeditions for Raleigh volunteers from around the world.
She joined the programme in 2013 when “I was at a standstill in my life and didn't know what I wanted”.
“I want to thank Tina and the board for putting alumni into positions of leadership,” she said. “It's not just a club. It's building a family and investing in young people.
“It's a space where you can be yourself, not be judged, and be allowed to make your mistakes.”
Keri has worked locally as a project manager for three years and hopes ultimately to work with the organisation, calling it “the catalyst for a lot of positive things in my life”.
Neville, 28, is headed soon for Nepal, where he too will work as a project manager. His involvement with Raleigh started with a friend who approached him about the programme, based on his past experiences.
“It gives me the opportunity to experience different cultures, to give back in different ways,” he said.
As part of his own development, “it eventually dawned on me that leadership was what I needed to work on. It's about being prepared to learn from whatever feedback I get. I'd like to continue with both Raleigh Bermuda and Raleigh International.”
Added Neville: “I would say to the youth out there, bite the bullet and just jump. Raleigh exposes you to so much. You may know it's out there — but knowing it and living it are two very different things.”