"There is Nothing to Lose and Everything to Gain"

Adrian Schouls volunteered as a teacher in rural Fiji. He submitted this essay in the My Lattitude Writing Competition, and we wanted to share his important story of growth and lessons learned here. Thank you, Adrian!


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‘‘[Do] you ever feel as though you had something inside you that was only waiting for you to give it a chance to come out? Some sort of extra power that you aren’t using...  like all the water…goes down the falls instead of through the turbines?’—Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

As character Helmholtz describes above in Huxley’s timeless 1932 novel, a lack of fulfillment in everyday work can lead to wondering about unrealized potential. If only Lattitude existed for poor Helmholtz, then his problems would have been solved!

Take my Lattitude story for example:

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It’s early February, 2018. I've arrived at my placement in rural Fiji to teach… “Can you take my math class this afternoon?”, “I’m going away, can you do arts and crafts with my 3/4s?” and ‘‘here, talk to my kids about anything” are samples of the requests I received from teachers during my first week.

‘Yes of course!’ I cheerfully replied, in spite of being stricken with fear. As volunteers, we were sufficiently warned about the likelihood of getting thrown into the deep end, and that I would have to fake it until I made it in the classroom. I wasn't a phenomenal teacher that first week, but my situation presented a unique opportunity at achieving character growth, and by saying yes when offered responsibility I paved the way for my hidden talents to surface. Personal development hinges on a commitment to leaving one's comfort zone, and Lattitude encourages volunteers to take on such challenges over the course of their placement.

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My fear of public speaking transformed into confidence through continual classroom engagement. My class management improved and I was offered speaking opportunities even more often as a result. Eventually I understood the amount of influence my words could have on teachers and students alike. All of these changes were made possible because of my constant exposure to challenging situations, coupled with the positive can-do attitude I was trained to maintain. That’s what Lattitude does.

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“[D]o you ever feel as though you had something inside you that was only waiting for you to give it a chance to come out?’’ Well, here’s your chance. Seek out challenges and maybe you will also discover the power you have to make the world a better place. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain, and all that needs to be done is the doing, which is the fun part! “The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?” (Dead Poets Society).


-Adrian Schouls, Lattitude Alumni, 2018

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