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All twelve regional winning entries in the Shine International Student Awards 2011 were posted here on the British Council Voices blog. The overall winner was James Xi Xu.

This is the East Midlands regional winner by Sabrina Bhundoo, who comes from Mauritius and studies at Nottingham Trent University.

Sabrina BhundooDear Rita,

Hope you are fine these days. I’m alright over here and I’ve been thinking of you very often lately. I’m seizing this opportunity to thank you for having encouraged me to come to UK. Coming to UK has changed my life so much that at times I think I’m day dreaming.

You remember how upset I was when I was told that I could not come to college to study for ‘A’ levels as I did not have 5 credits at ‘O’ level and also because I was already 18 years old. That day was the darkest day in my life as in some ways my opportunities for further studies in Mauritius were snatched away from me. But coming to UK has given me a new life; a life of hope and excitement. I joined college in UK and studied Health and Social Care at diploma level. I got the chance to follow evening classes in Maths and Biology free of charge and I obtained credits in both subjects.

I got excellent results in Health and Social Care studies. During my studies I was required to go to work in care settings for practical experience. I worked in a Residential Home for elderly. This experience changed my way of thinking and approach to life. As I was a student on placement, I was not always as busy as other care workers. I had time to sit by the side of elderly service users and talks to them or rather listen to them. They were always looking forward to see me and they welcomed me with smiles. This experience made me feel good and I completed training in National Vocational Certificate level 3 in H&S Care to better understand my responsibilities as a health and social care worker. When I realised the importance of communication in the life of vulnerable peoples I studied sign language. I witnessed how service users felt important when they were listened to, shown respect and treated with dignity. They grew in self esteem and their faces lit up with smiles. This approach and response seemed to me as a discovery!

My experience in care setting was rewarding and I visited the service users when I was sad or stressed with my assignments. After college, I applied for an international student scholarship at Nottingham Trent University and I was selected! This scholarship boosted my self-confidence and self-esteem and saved me £6000 towards my university fees. What an irony! At home my college had closed its doors for me and a renowned university in UK granted me a scholarship. I secured an admission for a degree course in H& S Care.
As my love for vulnerable people was very strong I completed training with the National Health Service to be eligible to carry out volunteer work in the community. I joined the Nottinghamshire Healthcare Community Befriending Scheme and I enjoyed meeting people who felt lonely. Such an experience was enriching and made me think about humanity. I also volunteered to work with people with learning disabilities and was saddened by their unfortunate experience of the past. I was eager to learn more about them to respond to their desires and support them effectively to make choices and who knows to make the dream of someone come true! At times I kept on thinking about them for hours before I fell asleep. I wrote my research assignment about treatment made available to people with learning disabilities and my teacher was impressed with it. I had the opportunity to choose ‘Disability Perspectives’ as an optional module for my 3rd year studies.

During my studies I learnt a lot about health and social care from my learned lecturers but vulnerable people has taught me the greatest lesson about human feeling, pain and expectations and reality of life. Volunteer work has not prevented me from getting good marks during my first and second years at university. I am working harder to end up with a very good overall result. Completion of my third year could be an eternal proof of my achievement and as a teacher you could mention it as a concrete example to others. After my graduation I intend to work with disabled people for some time before going for a Masters degree in Disability Studies. The Residential Home where I had volunteered to work has offered me a job. So this is the story of my life in UK.

To me a dream has come true and my life has changed forever. I feel happy and humble. Tears are standing in my eyes at this very moment. The experience I had in UK is not possible at home and most likely not in other countries. I have great respect for you as a teacher and I cannot thank you enough for having convinced me to come to UK where unbelievable opportunities await for those who work hard. UK is a land of dream to many foreigners. I am greatly indebted to UK for having changed my life for better and changed my perception of life.

Please, do convey my regards to all those who know me.

Take care,

Sabrina Bhundoo


Read all the Shine Winners.