Days earlier, I was at work as usual and had to meet a colleague in another building. I arrived after the five minute walk and glanced through the Daily Graphic as I waited for her. There was a scholarship advert in the newspaper and I did what I usually do in situations like that- I memorized the website address. I applied. They contacted me to start the process.
As soon as the selection process began I started suspecting something strange about the team running this scholarship scheme. You see I was an experienced scholarship applicant and there’s probably nowhere in Accra I have not been to hunt for scholarships. Something was definitely up with these people and I was determined to find out.
First, I noticed that they appeared to truly enjoy working hard. Their screening process looked like something deliberately designed to discover diamond from dirt. There were individual written tests, group dynamics, panel interviews, language tests, and final interviews.
Then, they made rules to the meter and followed them to the centimeter. If you wanted to drink water during the English language test, your water bottle must be of a specific transparent color, and your water must have all the properties listed in a chemistry textbook – it must be clear, odourless, colourless and tasteless. And as you make sure your water meets IUPAC standards, remember to place your bottle at a specific coordinate marked on your desk! Any suspicious movement could have dangerous consequences!
The highlight for me was when applicants had to pick schools. After a few days, I rang the team and attempted to change my chosen school. They’ll have none of it.
Over the phone, one of them said “so Eric, do you like this school? Or should we take the scholarship opportunity from you and give it to somebody else?
I had to be sure, so I made her repeat the question. She did.
Then I took a deep breath and answered “No, I’m sorry, I don’t like this school …I LOOOVE this school, this is the best school I have ever seen, and how can I not LOVE it”? Damn right, I am no fool!
The laughter on their side of the phone is still fresh in my ears, just like the feeling of touching down at Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London, and riding the train to my school. Once in the UK, my program got on quickly but this team will still not leave me alone. Their support was on point like a Muntari shot and my stipend came as promptly as an Anglican Church bell. I had a blast in and out of the classroom and finished with a distinction.
That was the year that changed everything. I had so many opportunities and new experiences, got closer to my family because we missed each other, and made friends from countries most people can’t pronounce -Liechtenstein, Latvia, Cyprus and Burma. When I returned to Ghana last year, it was clear that 2012- 2013 was best straight one year of my life – and that’s a round one knockout!
So this morning, when my new project teammate saw yet another scholarship advert in a newspaper and asked;
‘Are these scholarships real?’, this is how I answered ;
“Honestly, I don’t know, but the Tullow Group Scholarship Scheme managed by the British Council? YES, it is real, and I am living proof!”
When I tell you it’ll soon be one year since I graduated, you’ll naturally ask – So what are you doing now? And I’ll answer- ‘what I’ve always wanted to do – build things that touch people’. We started a business right after school and we publish the magazine you may have heard of – Newaccra Magazine. It’s an enriching resource that is specifically designed for current students, fresh graduates and young entrepreneurs. Our magazine runs very unique events that can change your life. You should check us out http://newaccra.com/
About the authour
Eric Kumah is a TGSS alumnus from Ghana. He had his MBA from the University of Central Lanchashire (UCLAN). Eric specializes in marketing, research, business analysis and training. He currently manages Newaccra Magazine an online magazine specially designed for current students, fresh graduates and young entreprenuers. Visit Newaccra.com