In this fourth post for the “Spotlight: Voices of Movers and Shakers” series, Oscar Ukwizagira, a student in Civil Engineering, tells us about his journey joining the University’s Karate Club and how it has contributed to his overall wellbeing, sense of belonging and leadership skills…
“An athlete is a normal person with a gift of an undying passion to be the best and achieve greatness” – Amanda Ring.
The first few weeks in the city of Edinburgh, I could not know what was going on in my life. As an international student, it took me more than a month to feel welcome in the city. I was passionate about any kind of martial art sport; however, I have done Shotokan Karate style since I was eight years of age. It was getting harder for me to join any sporting club. First, I felt I did not belong in the sporting community by that time. Second, the club I wanted to join was expensive for someone like me who relies on a monthly stipend. But my passion gave me the great opportunity to have a Sports Union’s member as my Reflection Coach, who supported me to join the Karate Club at no cost. My first tester session with Karate Club answered all the questions I had; I was very much welcomed by the club’s members; I was given love and support. From that point onward, I felt that I belonged in the community and was much happier to be a student at the University of Edinburgh and a Karate Club member.
In the last year, I have achieved even more as an individual and team member. As a team we worked together to make the University of Edinburgh the champions in the Scottish Student Sport (SSS) Championship in December 2019, and we took the second place in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship in February 2020. Individually, I am proud of myself for winning two silver and one bronze medals in the SSS Championship and one silver medal and my first gold medal in the BUCS Championship. Sport helps me to keep fit, maintain mental health wellbeing, and feel loved and supported. All this positively contributes to my academic journey. Personally, sport has helped me to improve my competitiveness and leadership skills along with my desire to achieve greatness.
I am currently volunteering in the Sports Union at the University of Edinburg as an international student Inclusion Officer. As an individual who has experienced how important sport is for wellbeing, the Inclusion Committee at the University of Edinburgh Sports Union motivates me to give my full contribution to overcome the challenges many international students face when trying to join sports at the University of Edinburgh. Doing sport at the university has been my bridge to meet great athletes. For example, I had a two-days training session with the world karate champion, Jonathan Mottram who has been my inspiration since I was eleven. In my experience, sport has been one of the key points to both my formal and informal educational success.
Oscar Ukwizagira is a Rwandan second year MasterCard Foundation Scholar studying BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering. He is currently serving as the Edinburgh University Sports Union Inclusion Officer -International Students. He does Karate sport as a future athlete. He likes spending his free time with friends cooking African food, visiting construction sites as one of his interests is to be a field man, civil engineer.