From Slovenia to Kenya: Diversity and perspective

Irena with new friends at IGE 2011

Irena Dokl is an active member and co-founder of Gold Award Holder Association (GAHA) Slovenia, as well as a certified Award Leader and mentor. Irena decided to attend the International Gold Event (IGE) in Kenya in 2011 in order to meet and learn from other participants, and to see how GAHA is established in other countries. 

In Kenya, she had the opportunity to volunteer by rebuilding schools, as well as participate in workshops on Youth Employment and Skills and in teambuilding exercises, among other things. This experience has had a lasting impact on her life, both in relation to and beyond the Award. The greatest part of her experience was meeting people from all walks of life.

Gaining exposure to greater cultural diversity

“IGE Kenya was the most enriching experience I’ve had in my life thus far. I got to meet, and work with, so many diverse groups of people—both from Kenya and all over the world. Slovenia is not a very culturally diverse place, so it was very special for me to meet friends from so many different backgrounds, countries, ethnicities, religions and cultures. It was really exciting to see how well we all worked and communicated together. At home, there has recently been a degree of animosity toward certain groups like refugees. I feel that the experiences I had in Kenya at the IGE have made me better equipped to enter informed discussions on the importance of social diversity.

I had also never been exposed to such adverse life circumstances. Volunteering in schools where many of the youth did not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, among other things, really affected me. I hope to be able to make a positive change in any small way I can going forward.

Building on teamwork skillsIrena at IGE

Through participating in a variety of team building exercises I learned that by putting together a great number of individuals with diverse perspectives, we were able to motivate one another in different ways and it was great to be able to share ideas. It was rewarding to witness how well we worked as a group in terms of delegating tasks based on strengths and weaknesses and effectively communicating with one another, especially during the volunteering aspect of the journey. The atmosphere created by the development of such a tight-knit community over the course of the trip was inspiring.

I now work as a physiotherapist in University medical centre Ljubljana. The Youth Employment and Skills workshops I completed in Kenya helped me gain the necessary skills and confidence to apply for jobs. Furthermore, the teamwork exercises and volunteering have led me to see a tangible difference in my communication skills and open-mindedness on the job. The IGE truly helped get me to where I am today in both my job and personal life."