Meet Sungano Mubaira
TGP Scholarship Recipient
University of Leicester
Graduation Year: 2021
“TGP provided a way for me to learn how to make my mark on the world.”
I’m a graduate geologist from the UK, working as a Researcher in Mineral Processing (Geochemist/Mineralogist). My interest in The GREEN Program started through doing research for a module I undertook during my master’s year at university. Firstly, I am a huge advocate for sustainable energy and believe that the faster we make a transition from finite resources, the better our future will be and what better place than Iceland to learn the minute details required to efficiently use renewables. Secondly, I want to make my mark on the world but was unsure on what/how to do that and TGP provided a way to find out or at least have a clearer understanding of how to do that. Lastly, as a geologist the opportunity to travel to Iceland played a major role in picking which program to attend.
The biggest challenge during my enrollment was finance. At the time of enrollment, I wasn’t employed and therefore had no income from which I could use to pay to attend the program. Luckily, the enrollment administrator(s) talked me through how other students who’d been in similar situations dealt with the same circumstances and provided support throughout the enrollment process. When I found out I got the TGP Scholarship, I had a surge of ranging emotions from excitement, happiness, and anxiousness because suddenly a dream/goal had become more attainable. I just remember being so happy and grateful that I’d been given this opportunity and had an extra spring in my step for the next few days.
Before the program, l was unsure about what the experience would be like. From the website, there seemed to be a fair amount of traveling around Iceland but I didn’t anticipate how much we saw in such a short period. We had a meeting a few weeks before flying to Iceland, which promoted the idea of living in the moment and part of it meant there was no “real” itinerary- a struggle for me as l like knowing what’s ahead and the ability to plan with ease and lower any sort of anxious energy. Another uncertainty l had was as the only person participating in the program from the UK, l didn’t know whether there’d be too much of a cultural difference (to an extent) from the other students who mostly presided from the other side of the Atlantic, and if that would affect my whole experience.
“Live in the moment became my new mantra.”
During the program, we are taught to “live in the moment” and strangely enough, after the program I’ve started using this as a mantra because I enjoyed my time in Iceland more than other trips I’d had prior and a lot of it was due to enjoying the experience for what it was without worrying/overthinking things perhaps like I would’ve done before. The people l met were all so amazing that it didn’t feel like we were that all different from one another. Despite being from completely different sides of the Atlantic, l met so many amazing people whom I had so much in common with and were able to connect with at such ease. I’m also proud to say I made friends through this program, from whom I learned so many things that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
As a result of such a diverse group, I didn’t feel any “imposter syndrome” which tends to be a common thing for anyone who is considered to be in a minority/underrepresented. I found that since we all shared a common interest/goal (i.e. learning about sustainability) additional to a diverse group, I was able to learn and enjoy the experience more easily in comparison to some situations I have endured in the past. Additionally, the ability to learn and enjoy the experience without any conscious thought about being a minority student/person was a great learning experience that I will try to apply in the future and l feel like that’s something underrepresented students need to have to ensure they can reach their full potential.
“As someone who is in a field with a limited representation of ethnic minorities, TGP created a neutral ground where there was a range of diversity on different levels.”
My GREEN Program experience in Iceland wasn’t just about the adventures and cultural immersion, but about the education as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures because I saw how passionate the different lecturers were about their work and research which is truly inspiring. As a geologist, learning more about the wonder that is Iceland in Iceland was definitely a dream come true. The different tours we did provided an excellent ground for putting theory into practice, something which I really enjoyed and I think where possible, needs to be more common. We even got to work on and incorporate a Capstone Project into the program. My group’s project was a proposal of a new composite graphite battery to power eco-friendly buses. With any group work, there were small issues with agreement on the direction of the project so we discussed at length what each person would like to see in the project, any concerns they have and how to address those which resulted in a well-developed idea that also acknowledges the potential shortcomings with ideas on how to address these issues if we had time to further develop the project. The way a group of completely different people, different majors, and different minds could come together to work on and try to solve an issue was such a unique experience to be apart of. I am so grateful for my time in Iceland and for The GREEN Program, and strongly encourage others to pursue the program of their dreams too. Iceland is such a beautiful place and l was in disbelief the whole time, it exceeded all my expectations but I can definitely say that one visit isn’t enough.
Sungano’s advice for new GREENies:
I can only speak from a personal perspective as other people may have greater challenges than l faced. That said, my biggest challenge was finance which l dealt with in several steps: first l outlined to TGP that finance was an issue to which they were very understanding and gave several suggestions on potential sources which could’ve helped me financially. Secondly, I discussed with my parents to see if they could help and how much they’d be comfortable with helping (thus l could tell/calculate how much I’d have to finance myself or request from another source/company). Luckily, l also managed to secure a job which meant l could start paying for the program. Overall, if you’re particularly interested in a program, apply and outline any anticipated challenges and I’m sure you’ll be directed to the relevant areas from which as much help can be provided so that you can attend your chosen program.