Transformative change takes time, but it’s worth working at it, says Janet Sou, who participated in several ABCN programs during her years at Cabramatta High School in Sydney. The 24-year-old, who is now a mentor herself, shares some thoughts on how to get the most out of your ABCN experience.
I was born in Taiwan and our family moved to south west Sydney when I was nine. Learning English was a bit of a struggle. Being from a poor area and without any other family or connections here to look to for guidance, I was always worried that my understanding of life beyond high school was too narrow.
So when the opportunity to take part in ABCN programs came up in Years 9 and 10, I took it immediately. I remember my GOALS mentor teaching me that the thing I called ‘being lazy’ was actually called ‘procrastinating’ and that I could beat it by chunking my tasks. I remember a mentor said if you look up and smile, you can’t physically feel down at that specific moment, which resulted in me looking like an absolute nutcase at school for months afterwards.
But I won’t say that I applied all these tips immediately and diligently. Not because they aren’t phenomenal tips but because change doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes the thing that instigates change is subtle and it’s accumulated over time and numerous experiences.
For example, I still procrastinate sometimes but from GOALS I derived a curiosity about the business world that keeps me going. I still use negative words sometimes but from the Reach Your Potential program I derived inspiration that I can actively try to change my mindset.
I also leveraged the experience and spoke about it in my application and interview with EY, later becoming a graduate there. Years later, during an ABCN meeting, I met the former managing director of Stockland. Afterwards he sought me out – I was so astonished by how personable and genuine he was. I have wanted to work for Stockland ever since then. Now, I do work there.
I’ve basically come full circle. Seeing the kids participate in ABCN programs reminds me of myself. I hope they realise that these programs don’t give them specific step-by-step instructions on how to make it, but it may give them a blueprint for a bridge they have to build themselves.
Looking back, I can’t thank ABCN enough. And I also can’t thank MYSELF enough for not letting such a precious experience go to waste.
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