An ambitious Horsham teenager is trying to raise nearly £5,000 for a gap year project in Fiji just weeks after completing his A-levels.
Starting in January next year Michael Sleeman, of North Parade, will spend seven months on the Pacific Island teaching maths and science to students in a secondary school where English is their second language.
The 18-year-old said: “From a very young age I had been keen to take a year out and go travelling after leaving school. By the end of Year 12, I was also wanting to do something that would have a positive impact on the lives of others within the global community and I felt that a year out would, in many ways, provide me with a more valuable learning experience than going straight on to university.
“Having been involved in a bit of teaching at school I decided to apply for voluntary overseas teaching placements. I was successful getting this placement with Lattitude Global Volunteering, a charity which operates around the globe to place young people such as myself in jobs where they are needed the most.’’
During his time in Fiji, he will stay with a host family and so will experience the culture there firsthand.
“As a part of the community, I will have a whole set of practical, social and cultural responsibilities aside from the teaching. In return, I hope to learn a great deal about a different culture and way of life and meet lots of new people.’’
Having secured his place on the gap year programme, he now has to raise about £4,780 to cover costs of flights, vaccinations and the relevant teacher training.
He completed his first fundraising challenge last month when he cycled from England’s easternmost town, Lowestoft in Suffolk, to Land’s End in Cornwall, the country’s westernmost tip. He will be doing more activities up until his departure next year.
He said: “At the moment, it all still seems a long way off but no doubt the next four months will fly by and before long I will be on the verge of taking this massive step into the unknown.
“It’s a fairly terrifying prospect and I’m aware that it is going to be more challenging than anything I have had to do before but I am also confident that it will be an absolutely incredible, and potentially life changing, experience.”
Last month Michael completed his time at Holy Trinity School in Crawley achieving three A*s and two As in his A-Levels. He has a place at Durham University next year to study physics.
You can still sponsor him for his cycle ride or make a donation towards his cause at www.justgiving.com/michael-sleeman-fijifund