November 6, 2017, by International students
My #CheveningMemories: A #ConfidentlySmart year!
By Manuel Besares
One year has passed so quickly: In June 2016, I was #ChosenForChevening. Through my #JourneyToUoN and #MyCheveningJourney, I made my biggest stand-out to demonstrate why #IAmChevening, representing my country, Mexico. Undoubtedly, I enjoyed an experience of a lifetime. This amazing year was defined by incredible moments. Now, as a #CheveningAlumni, I will share some of my most significant #CheveningMemories.
Hi, I am Manuel Besares, a 25 years old dreamer from a tropical, small city: Heroica Cardenas, Tabasco, located on the South East of Mexico. I’m a biotechnologist, and a former UoN student after my adventure on the course MPH Public Health – International Health in the School of Medicine. I’m a Chevening Alumnus, and currently, I’m inviting all the overseas students to apply to the prestigious Chevening Scheme: We are looking for future leaders like you.
Last year, I wrote about “who I am?” in #MyCheveningJourney, and later, I wrote about what is Chevening and “why to apply?” in #IAmChevening. But now, exactly one year after of my last post, and hours before the current deadline of the Application is coming, I will share with you how Chevening transformed my life through my #CheveningMemories.
The UoN Experience
The University of Nottingham rocks. Since the main goal of the Chevening Scheme is to invite future top leaders of their countries to study in the United Kingdom, as Chevening Awardee, I received an incredible all-inclusive scholarship to study my masters in a top UK university. Naturally, I chose my top option to study the course of International Health: the School of Medicine of the University of Nottingham (UoN). Our University is ranked among the best 100 universities at global level (QS World University Rankings). In 2017, the UoN was the listed as the University of the Year for Graduate Employment (Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide).
Despite all of these rankings, what attracted me most was the overall experience at the UoN: the highly recognised academic staff, the gigantic Queens Medical Centre, the beautiful and sustainable campus, the fabulous student life (thanks to a very organised and pretty active Students’ Union), in one of the most diverse and international academic institutions of the UK and the world. So international and representative that our last two Students’ Union Presidents are from an international background. In fact, the inspirational Ismail Sadurdeen (Sri Lanka), as the first international student to become SU President (2016/2017), was an important role model for me. Mr Alan Holey (Hong Kong), our current SU President, is starting his tenure, and along with all the SU Officers, I’m pretty sure that they will provide you with an incredible student experience throughout this year!
Did I mention that the current Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, studied his PhD at our university? 😉
Mr Mexico? – From a small town to a Country’s Rep
Chevening provided me with the opportunity to use the power of my voice; and during my year as a scholar to be an “ambassador” of my people, my homeland, and my country, Mexico. As both the very first Chevening Scholar of the Mexican state of Tabasco, and the first one from my former School of Biological Sciences at UANL, I would have never imagined how dynamic #MyCheveningJourney would be. The “small town” boy was ready to be a Mexican representative; first, to the university environment, then as one of their country delegates in the Chevening Global Community.
From attending Chevening organised day-trips, keynote lectures (the Global Health one was my favourite), a reception at the FCO Headquarters in London, a dinner with scholarships sponsors, conferences on other academic institutions, or even hosting a Robin Hood event in Nottingham (fully sponsored by the Chevening Secretariat): I was always provided by the organisers with my ID badge with my name, the word MEXICO, and my country flag on it. Of course, I carried proudly the Mexican flag with me on every single occasion. A truly memorable moment was set during the Chevening Conference 2017 at the University of Bradford, where I was a speaker of the panel “Health and Collaborative Leadership”.
For the previously mentioned reasons, my beloved flatmate, Aticha, from Thailand, set a new nickname for me: “Manu, Mr Mexico”, because she always saw me “running and going” with a formal attire, a briefcase in one hand, and the Mexican flag on the other, always ready for the many interesting appointments for my activities as UoN student and Chevening Scholar.
Those opportunities were a training before the next steps. In the last few months, I was part of the Mexican delegation at the “International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science” in Paris, France last July; and recognised as one of the “100 Youth Leaders of Biotechnology in Latin America”, with the Summit held in Santiago, Chile, in October.
Living the true British Life
Living in the United Kingdom provides several academic opportunities: easy access to knowledge, educational hubs, and entrepreneurs’ clusters. Nonetheless, there are other “jewels” to make your experience more valuable and unforgettable: the history everywhere, the culture, the fabulous landscapes, and the #GREAT British people. Lovely!
After finishing my degree, I came back to Mexico. Surprisingly, I realised that throughout the year, I always carried a small teacup or a mug with me. Yes, after one year living in the UK, I have a new habit related to drinking tea. It does not matter if is tropically hot here in Tabasco, I’m still doing it because it reminds me of the cloudy afternoons at Nottingham during winter (hot tip: Earl Grey Tea is my favourite blend).
Despite the cliché, there are some other traits that I got in the UK: The famous politeness, punctuality, the accuracy, and the “going straight to the point” of the Brits is something that I really love, and luckily, I acquired them after this year.
Despite that I’m proudly Mexican, a part of the UK is in my heart.
It’s a small world after all… MPH INTERNATIONAL Health
One important point of living in the UK is that here you could experience a truly international experience. From your flatmates to your coursemates, in the UK you will meet people from around the world.
My flatmates at Raleigh Park, all postgrad students, were quite diverse: Dorian from Poland, Aticha from Thailand, Alex and Sarah from the UK, and Andrea from Mexico. They showed me their cultures, traditions, and FOOD (I love food). Despite that we always have different ways to do something, we always keep the world peace at a flat level.
On my course, I was the only Mexican. In fact, I was the first Mexican in the history of my course. But there was a reason behind: my course was filled with incredible students from all over the world. Despite the big numbers of British and Ghanaian students, we had delegates from Nigeria, India, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malawi, Cameroon, Germany, and of course, MEXICO.
And do not forget the International Chevening Network. Just in my year, we were 1,900 scholars from over 160 countries around the world. Many of them are aspiring leaders transforming positively the realities of their countries. An amazing international network ready to empower communities across the planet.
Living surrounded by a so multicultural background provided me with an enhanced experience ready to be translated to the professional level. As an International Health student, I needed to dimension the reach of possible policies related to health, and the understanding of different cultures is needed to bring an effective public health strategy in a specific context.
Transformational Leadership in the Action
As a UoN student, I was member of the education network of the University of Nottingham, first as Course Rep, as well as Postgraduate Sounding Board member, representing the taught courses of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (covering four Schools: Medicine, Health Sciences, Life Sciences, and Veterinary Sciences).
Those platforms led me to be involved in working for the postgrad students of our University, both with the Students’ Union and with the different schools. All the different struggles that you could imagine were discussed at the Postgrad Sounding Board to improve your student life at the UoN.
I even tried to be your Postgrad Officer, highlighting on my campaign the importance of welfare for Postgrads, and the need to understand the international, cultural, religious background of our students. Despite the moving whiteboards at the campuses, I was a “Second Runner-Up” (A.K.A as third place) and luckily Yolanda won in the end, and I know that she will do an incredible job this year. I did not win, but as Latin American, and as a non-native English speaker, I know that this challenging running would set a precedent for more BME students to participate in the SU elections in future years, as Ismail winning a year before had motivated me to run.
Before finishing the year, I received two accolades from our Students’ Union: “Gold Certificate Award” of the Education Network; and being part of the “First Generation of The Nottingham Inspirational Students”.
Now, the challenges as a student have finished, and the leadership is needed to solve different social problems in my country. And I am ready to apply all the skills learned across this year to do it.
These were some of my best experiences across this adventure as a scholar of the most prestigious scholarship of the UK’s Government: the Chevening Awards. What are you waiting for? This is your time; this opportunity is open for you… But not so long. The applications close tomorrow!
Applications for Chevening Scholarships in 2018/19 close on Tuesday 7 November 2017 at 12:00 GMT.