Ado, seen here, with his fundraising thermometer at ILSC-Melbourne
Adonai Vera, a student from Colombia who is attending ILSC-Melbourne has made it his mission to bike ride from Melbourne all the way to Sydney – a total of 1000km! The trip, organized by Steer North, a health promotion charity, will take 12 days and will raise money for cancer research – a topic that hits close to home for him. Ado has already begun fundraising at ILSC-Melbourne through activities such as ping pong tournament and salsa classes.
Initially, the fundraising efforts were concentrated in Melbourne, but as more people found out about this amazing story, ILSC locations around the world decided they wanted to help Ado make a difference. Below you can watch as ILSC-Melbourne director, Jason Flaming informs Ado that not only is ILSC-Melbourne going to help him achieve his $3500 goal, but ILSC schools all over the globe are going to join him in riding for this amazing cause.
We sat down and spoke with Ado about how he came to Melbourne, his experience at ILSC and his hopes for both his ride and the future.
If you too want to help Ado, you can visit his page and donate here: http://steernorth.org.au/rider2017/adonai-vera/
Tell us the story about how you came to Melbourne?
Everything started in August of this year when my girlfriend decided to travel to Australia. She told me that we can travel together and start a new life together, I remember that she said ‘Melbourne is one of the most livable cities in the world and we can find better opportunities. The lifestyle is different, the culture is different, and we can experience cultural diversity, the possibility to travel around Asia because it’s close compared to Colombia, and we can experience a dream that we always shared together, that is to travel to Thailand.
All of this made me fall in love with the idea and we decided to take a chance and we started to plan the trip. After several weeks, my girlfriend received a letter from the Australian Embassy with the result of her application – the result wasn’t what we had expected – her visa was rejected.
When I found this out, I began to feel really nervous because all the plans that we started together would now change. However, at the time it was really too late to change my own decision to travel to Australia. For me, I believe in fate and I knew that everything happens for a reason. With this positive attitude in mind, I decided to stick to the original plan and I left for Australia myself.
What was your previous experience with English, traveling and experiencing other cultures before coming to Australia?
The only time that I studied English was in school in Colombia before coming to Australia. So, when I arrived here, I felt scared, anxious, with really worried about making mistake while talking. But I always had a desire to be an international person and because English is the global language, I knew this challenge was something I had to do.
What goals did you have in mind before coming to Melbourne? What did you want to achieve?
My main goal in coming to Australia was to get more confidence as well as overcome my fear of speaking in public. I knew that the main thing I needed to do was make the effort to live with foreign people, try to always speak in English, take advantage of this experience in a foreign country and step outside my comfort zone.
What are your most memorable moments from your time at ILSC?
One of the most memorable things about ILSC was the time I came to talk to Sal about my bicycling project, called Steer North. Sal immediately started to help me with activities, he gave me ideas about how to fundraise and then looked that all the people at the school that could also help me, including teachers, students, and managers. That made me feel amazing because they showed this incredible support for me.
I remember my first fundraising event, it was a ping pong tournament and many students came to support. There was great energy during the event and we raised a lot of money.
I also remember the first time when I tried to get sponsorship from a store next to the school – it’s called Fresh Pantry. When I was outside the store, getting ready to talk to the manager, my legs were shaking with nervousness! It’s difficult to try to get sponsors in other languages. However, when I started to talk with Paul, the owner of Fresh Pantry, I felt more confident because he was really friendly and approachable. In the end, he gave us 2 gift card for 100 dollars in total and we used this gift card as prizes for the activities.
How did you become involved in the Steer North project? What is this project about? Why did you join it? How is ILSC helping you with it?
When I arrived in Melbourne, I was looking for a job because I just had the money to pay the rent and food for one month. That’s why I bought my first bicycle because a friend told me about a job at Uber Eats. It’s an app to work with the restaurants in the city and your job is delivering food on your bicycle for customers. I signed up and started working there immediately and thanks to this job, I not only got to make money to support myself, but I also was able to get to know all the beautiful places in Melbourne.
One day I was at my computer and I saw a post about a bike trip from Melbourne to Sydney, I decided to register for it. When I went to the first meeting I got more information and I fell in love with the idea of the organization. Steer North is a health promotion charity whose purpose is to inspire people to live healthy, active and creative lives. The health promotion programs are delivered to local communities across Australia through epic cycling journeys and we donate the majority of the fundraising to critical medical research, education and patient care. The trip I’m doing is all for the benefit of Cancer Research. My grandmother died from cancer so this really hits close to home for me.
ILSC has been supporting me with different activities and ideas to do around the school. So far, we’ve done 5 events, Ping pong tournament, two classes of salsa, Trivia night and a party for charity. We also have yoga classes coming up with donations going to my ride to Sydney. And I was surprised when I saw many teachers, students, managers, and all the family of the school in the activities.
How do you feel about traveling by bicycle to Sydney?
Wow, I feel nervous but excited. I’m also feeling really happy to be part of this team – it’s been a great way to connect with locals in the city. We’re going to be able to interact with many people during the trip because we stop in different places on the way and run activities about community awareness. On the other hand, I believe that this trip is more mental than physical.
What are your passions/dreams for the future?
I’d like to take all this experience that I’m living in Australia and continue to learn more about myself. This experience is changing the way that I live my life and it’s opening my mind and giving me more skills that I can use in the future.