As a child I was always interested in technology - whether it be playing on a second hand Commodore 64 (don't you just love those tape drive loading screens!) or learning to write basic programs on my mum's Amstrad 9512 (in the days of white text on a black screen, and no mouse!).
I was fortunate to grow up in a family which encouraged happiness over academic achievement, yet knew when a swift kick up the backside was required to get me out of the 'can't be bothered' phases!
The sea beckons
Originally interested in joining the Royal Navy as a Marine Engineering Officer, my academic studies were in areas which I found really quite tough, because I thought that was what I wanted to do - if only I had the sense to follow what I enjoyed, I think I would have enjoyed my late teens a lot more! On completion of my GCSE's I was fortunate to be part of the 'Nepal '99' programme - 13 families from our school worked together for two years fundraising for the trip of a lifetime, a three week adventure in Nepal.
First taste of travelling
After a lot of hard work, we set off to Nepal for a trip which would really open my eyes to so many things. I no longer lived in my 'bubble' but was aware of the billions of people around the world suffering every moment of every day - and I also first encountered Buddhism during this trip. I think I knew from this point forward that I wanted to do something to make a difference in the world, but how I was going to do that took quite some time to pan out!
Immediately following this adventure, I was again fortunate to attend a Women into Science and Engineering (WISE) programme in Finland - a week long funded trip to the university and various technology institutes in and around Tampere - including the Nokia factory - which I found to be inspiring and exciting, to see other women becoming experts in their field and sharing their knowledge with other women.
I later went on to spend four months out in Nepal during a Gap Year before University, teaching English at Oasis Vidhya Mandir in Besi Shahar, Lamjung District, and then spending a month in Kathmandu learning Nepalese. This time had a profound impact on my life and was an incredible experience in so many ways!
I owe a lot to my family and my school teachers for giving me these precious opportunities - it was not something that everybody was able to experience and without it I would not have experienced so many things I now hold to be central to my life.