by Siphelele Zungu
In September, I got an incredible opportunity to travel to Oklahoma in the United States to attend a conference called PLACE hosted by The Mentoring Project. The three-day conference focused on mentoring, relationships, and reconcillation.
Thanks to TMP for letting us come! Oklahomans are such loving, caring people with amazing hospitality. I had a great time and made some great memories that will forever stay in my mind and heart. I also have learned so many great lessons during my stay, and I don’t think I’m the same person I was before. I’ve made a list of some of the important lessons I learned throughout my visit.
1. The world won’t change if you don’t change.
I have learned that world changers are those who are willing to change. I met great people who do stuff, who care about changing people’s lives. Their character tells you how much they dream for a better world, and they do not speak about something they do not act on. They practice what they preach.
2. Changing the world doesn’t literally mean changing the WHOLE world alone. You can’t.
I’ve learned that impacting the world doesn’t literally mean changing the whole world. You cannot. But changing the world means touching those around you. Your community is your own world. If one cares enough for their community in each and every corner of the world, that is how we can change the world. It doesn’t mean one person impacting billions of people – you cannot. But if every single person takes responsibility upon themselves to impact the lives of those around them, the world would be changed for the better.
3. Mentoring matters more than you could think.
Take someone with you – in your street, in your neighbourhood, there is one kid that needs you. Drugs, teenage pregnancy, crime, etcetera, are world-wide issues and we could do something about it instead of turning a blind eye. Let’s show up for these kids and help them save themselves, and make them realise that they can overcome these challenges. They are the solution. Let’s believe in them so that they CAN become a success story, because they’re unchained. They have all the potential within them, all they need is someone to believe in them. You’d be amazed by the results.
4. Life is not about us, but about those around us.
Pretty much everyone I met in Oklahoma cared so much about people. They don’t have to talk about it, because what they do tells you how much they care about making positive impacts. These people are living to positively impact people’s lives – they’re not selfish, but selfless. They do not put themselves first. Life is not about them, but about those around them.
5. Everyone has something to offer.
You’re good enough. Anyone can do something for somebody; we have something we can offer. You have all it takes to impact the world. Most people think they need money to do so, but you don’t. You don’t need money to get into that kid’s life and tell him he’s capable of becoming successful, and possesses every weapon to fight for their future.
6. Investing in bonds or buildings is wise, but investing in people is wiser.
Almost everyone likes the idea of investing, including myself. But investing in people seems to be the wisest thing one can do. God never created buildings. He created people. While investing with money is a good idea, I’ve learned that investing in people is more important and has a long lasting effect. People matter.
7. The world can be what you want it be, if you care enough to act.
I’ve learned that world changers are actually the ones that care enough to act. We might think we do not have the power to change the world, but those leaders out there are changing it because they care enough and they act.
8. Your presence should be someone’s blessing and joy.
A challenge upon all of us is to be a blessing, and bring joy to people. I had to question if my existence in the world was either of those, and made a decision to put more effort in becoming a blessing in someone else’s life. I was inspired by these amazing people who are all this and more.