Sian stays silent and succeeds at Snowdon

I am very pleased to announce that after setting myself some challenges to raise money for TeachFirst, I have succeeded and raised a total of £243 for the charity!

Before I launch into a summary of what I got up to, I would like to thank each and every one of you who donated – the money is going to a fantastic cause.

As a team, Warwick Inspire has raised £643, which is enough to fund one person through the TeachFirst mentoring scheme for a whole year, and also fund a taster lecture and learning centre at Cambridge University. This will give a group of young people an opportunity they would not have had otherwise and the money will contribute to the TeachFirst Access Programme.

So first up – the silence on Monday 16 June. 24 hours where I couldn’t communicate with anyone, not even by writing things down or messaging. Those of you who know me well will know that normally I don’t shut up, so this particular mental challenge was particularly difficult for me. I didn’t see the point in trying to avoid everyone all day in order to succeed, so I attempted to have a fairly normal day. I got up early and headed to the shops with my housemate (who basically had no idea what I was doing and just followed me) and I soon realised how much I communicate with people on an everyday basis.

I actually found it much easier to ignore my friends than complete strangers, funnily enough. My closest friends knew what I was doing anyway, and others I could Facebook message the next day and apologise for blanking them. However, the stranger I bumped into on the street thought I was rude because I didn’t say sorry and the woman at the till who was chatting away to me about hay fever must have also thought the same. I discovered too that being rude and choosing to ignore someone is more difficult than just being polite, and saying “sorry” or “thank you”. Manners are a small but important gesture and they should be a habit, rather than a choice.

I also managed to survive a tough afternoon in the Boar office having to ignore a bunch of people in the SUHQ (sorry!) and again discovered how vital communication is to my job. A lot of the time I tried to explain things using pointing and wild gestures, and it got me nowhere, so in the end I gave up. Since I was quieter I thought I would be more productive and get a lot more work done, but this was not the case! So I have no reason or motivation to be quieter in every day life now, either… Overall, it was a really challenging day and I only spoke once when my friend fell over on the bus and I panicked: “ARE YOU OKAY?!” So, as promised, I donated £10 to myself. I am proud of my willpower and learned a lot of things, like the power of body language, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever attempt again!

Snowdon 2
The Warwick Inspire Snowdon team (left to right): George Creasy, Thomas Proudfoot, Mai-Linh Nguyen, Laura Parry, Hayley Bignell, Sian Elvin and Jessica Rowan.

The second and more physical challenge was the Snowdon climb on Tuesday 24 June with Warwick Inspire. Inspire works with TeachFirst to send students to visit disadvantaged schools in the West Midlands area, in particular Coventry, Canley and Leamington Spa.

There were seven of us and we decided to take one of the harder mountain paths: the Snowdon Ranger path. It has a descent of 936m and a distance of 13km. It took us less than six hours to climb up and down the mountain, which we found fairly challenging but not totally exhausting, and definitely worthwhile. Considering I didn’t really know anyone in the Inspire team before, it was really great to get to know them over the course of the day; they’re lovely people! The views along the way were absolutely gorgeous too, and marked my first visit to Wales very clearly in my memory.

Overall I found both my physical and mental tasks challenging in very different ways, but ultimately, it was totally worth it to raise so much money for a great cause and also, to put my willpower to the test! You can find my personal fundraising page here and the Inspire fundraising page here.

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