Participant Perspectives

My Pagoda Story – Jessica Herbert, Cardiff Metropolitan University

In this #MyPagodaStory series, we’re featuring guest blogs from participants that completed our Easter Skills Programme. This is Pagoda participant Jessica Herbert, from Cardiff Metropolitan University!

Keep reading to see how Jessica worked on her self-development, gained new skills, and formed connections with a cultural mentor from Taipei, Taiwan!


About Me

My Name is Jessica Herbert. I am a second-year student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying Business and Management (Law). During my course, I am required to do a work experience module. Originally, when I applied for my degree course with Cardiff Met, one of the main things that interested me was the opportunity to study abroad and learn about different cultures and ways of life. However, due to Covid-19 and the global pandemic, this opportunity began to slip away. When a tutor introduced us to Pagoda Projects and the programmes/opportunities they had, I was not going to let this one pass me by.

After doing some of my own research about Pagoda Projects and reading some of the testimonials of other students, I thought this would be the perfect way to use the work experience module to my advantage and use the time for some self-development. I applied to the Easter Programme, secured a place, and was so excited to get started and be paired with my Cultural Mentor.

Pagoda couldn’t have matched me with a better mentor, and I am so pleased to have met Meredith and believe I have made a friend for life.

Beginning My Programme

Before I knew it, it was time to start the programme. The team at Pagoda were helpful when it came to starting. We had a meeting on the first Monday about how the course will work, what’s really involved, and how they can help us. When I applied, I wasn’t quite aware of all the courses that were available to me. It was interesting to see just how much was available, and it’s amazing having access to these courses even after the 3-week programme is finished, meaning there is no pressure to feel like you need to complete them all as soon as possible. It was also nice to see all the events the Pagoda team have set up during the programme such as movie night and a cook along, bringing a social aspect to the course.

On starting the programme, we had access to the Pagoda App, which we were then paired up with our cultural mentor, with an option to chat online and join groups with other individuals on the programme. I began speaking to my cultural mentor ‘Meredith’ via the app platform, where we arranged our first video call via Zoom.

Cultural Mentor

My Cultural Mentor was a girl called Meredith. She lives in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, and this was her first time being a mentor in the programme. We were both quite nervous when we first video called, but it only took a couple of minutes and a discussion about dumplings to get us on the right track. The hardest part of the cultural mentor experience for me was the time difference factor. The time difference for Meredith and me is about 8 hours, so it was easy to miss that perfect time for both of us.

During our first video chat, we exchanged Instagram accounts to make it easier to speak and keep each other updated with photos about our day/week during the programme duration. We arranged to have another call at the same time the following week, but without meaning to we started talking more over social media, getting to know each other better. It has almost become second nature to speak to Meredith every day, and it feels as though we have known each other for a long time. Pagoda couldn’t have matched me with a better mentor, and I am so pleased to have met Meredith and believe I have made a friend for life. We are even discussing a visit at some point next year, which would be amazing.

Finishing My Experience

The three-week programme has flown by. This experience has been amazing, I would 100% recommend it to other students and I will definitely be looking into other Pagoda Project programmes. The programme couldn’t have come at a better time for me, alongside my University work, it has given me time to reflect on my self-development and pick up some new interests. I am looking forward to finishing the courses I have access to and developing my knowledge and skills. I would like to thank Pagoda for matching me with a great mentor and thanks to them I have a new friend for life.