Raleigh Bermuda’s journeys of self-discovery
Two graduates of an adventure training programme who pushed themselves beyond their limits have been honoured for their hard work.
Chelsea Pereira-Swainson, 23, is going to study overseas after she learnt she could “push myself more than I thought I could” and Antione “Twon” Williams, 24, has embraced his rekindled sense of adventure.
Tina Nash, the executive director of Raleigh Bermuda, said the pair had been commended as “examples of what Raleigh can do” in the challenge of self transformation.
Ms Pereira-Swainson, from Sandys, said she was “still surprised” at winning the Malcolm K. Outerbridge Transformation Award.
She was nominated by her fellow adventurers for showing the most marked change.
Ms Pereira-Swainson said: “Raleigh lets you create new friendships and open new doors.
“You learn about yourself, help others and build new skills. It's a programme to put your life in the right direction.”
But she added: “I still feel the same.” She said: “Raleigh is not going to automatically change you. It's a stepping stone.”
The programme was designed to promote community service and treks in far-flung countries and Ms Pereira-Swainson went to Tanzania in 2018.
She learnt about the programme when she was a student at the Berkeley Institute and was persuaded to meet Ms Nash by her mother, Shawnette.
She said: “Helping people is my biggest joy in life, but I didn't know where to start.”
Ms Pereira-Swainson said low self-confidence sometimes made her reluctant to leave her home and she craved “a change of scenery” to get her life in perspective.
She added that her trip to the East African country of 57 million was “an awesome experience”.
The two, now part of the 159-strong list of graduates from Raleigh International Bermuda, were recognised at the special awards ceremony this month.
Bermudian venturers joined others from Raleigh programmes worldwide for work in their host communities, and gruelling treks over 2½ weeks in the wild.
Ms Pereira-Swainson's community work ranged from making bricks to building bathrooms and teaching children potentially life-saving hygiene tips.
She is scheduled to start at Hartpury University in Britain in September and will share a home with a friend from Raleigh.
Ms Pereira-Swainson said she would like to take a masseuse course and get a bachelor's degree in horse management.
Mr Williams, who pushed himself to new heights last year in the Himalayan nation of Nepal, was among those who nominated her for the award.
He said: “She opened up to us and made connections to people. It's not the same Chelsea here today.”
Mr Williams added he now counted several Raleigh alumni among his friends.
He first heard of the programme years ago as a pupil at CedarBridge Academy.
Mr Williams said: “It was always in the back of my mind, but 2018 was my year.
“I was at that point. I didn't know what I was doing. My daily life was this ritualistic pattern of working and going home. I thought, OK, I'll switch it up.”
Mr Williams laid pipes to supply water to remote villages and taught the basics of sanitation.
He added: “I thought it would be a shock, but it brought out a different side of myself. I was just eager to get involved.”
He said that trekking in Nepal involved “climbing and a lot of steps”, as well as avoiding some steep drops.
Mr Williams said: “It was one of those experiences you had to take day by day.”
He added: “When I was younger, I had that adventurous drive. After I graduated high school, it kind of disappeared. But it got revived.”
Mr Williams is now a project manager for this year's venturers and is also the secretary for Raleigh Bermuda's alumni.
He was given the Michael J Spurling Award, named after Raleigh Bermuda's founder and presented to graduates who embody the programmes values.
Mr Williams said: “People come to Raleigh for many different reasons. Don't feel like yours isn't important.
“If you find yourself at that point where you just don't know, take that first step. Come and see what it's about. It's a life-changing experience where you help people, help yourself, and learn more about the world you live in.”
• To learn more about Raleigh Bermuda, visit raleigh.bm