Great Things never come from Comfort Zones: A dreamer’s story of a Sustainable Farming ambassadorship to Germany

When life gives you a thousand reasons to break down, show life that you have a million reasons to
smile and bounce back.

I was faced with many challenges in life but each day I had confronted and gained victory over those
hurdles. This courage made me write this story of victory. Where there’s a will there’s a way, this idiom
has justified itself in my life propitiously. A small-town girl with big ambitions but fewer privileges got
the opportunity to visit her dreamland. This only became possible because of my never-ending
enthusiasm for learning new things, a lot of hard work, and faith.

I am Jane, a 21-year old student of Mindanao State University-General Santos City, Philippines. I am a
parent-less child with five siblings and I am second to the youngest. This short description of mine
preludes to the struggles and battles of my life. We presume that children without parents are the most
vulnerable people in the world and the same was I. However, I always wanted to disprove this false
belief and make my parents proud by achieving my life’s goal, wherever they are.

This was not possible without the opportunity given by Bayer to the students all around the globe by
launching a program called Bayer Safe Use Ambassador. Under this program, training on the safe use of
agrochemicals followed by competition was organized for students. The participants had to make a
short video of farmers while teaching them the safe use of pesticides. I participated in the competition
with other university students and with the help of a friend I successfully filmed a video. Truly, I had
faced a lot of challenges throughout the making of the video but my enthusiasm for the project and
positive attitude boosted me. I turned those problems into opportunities. Fortunately, the video got
heaps of appreciation from Bayer Safe Use Ambassador project judges and won the ticket to visit Bayer
headquarters in Germany.

The struggle was not finished yet. After winning the trip to Germany, my excitement and enthusiasm
were very high. My travel date was on the 11th of May 2019, but until the 10th of May I didn’t receive a
Schengen Visa. Though the trip was fully sponsored by Bayer, there were still many things I had to worry
about which was making me more nervous. For the first time, I was going to travel to another country
on an airplane. I was short of money. I was anxious about meeting up with new people. I had fear about
the communication barrier. Above all, the issue with my visa. However, by what seemed to be a kiss of
fate, I had received it hours before my flight.

If we say God has perfect timing, never too early but never too late, that has fortunately worked for me.
It took little patience and tons of my faith but it’s worth the wait. Eventually, I managed to reach Manila,
the Capital of the Philippines, on the afternoon of the 11th of May. From there, I boarded the flight to
Istanbul before the final leg to Germany. I met the Bayer Stewardship Manager of the Philippines, who
enlightened me about the trip just before the flight, over dinner. I understood the information but that
hardly helped me with my nerves. I took the flight after a while from Manila.

When I arrived at the Istanbul Airport, I met the Bayer Stewardship Manager of the Asia Pacific, and
other Bayer SUA winners from Malaysia and Pakistan. After a meet and greet, everyone was trying to
blend in except me. I was only silently listening to everyone. A few minutes later the Stewardship
Manager asked me if I wanted to share my experience too. As he saw that I was too nervous to speak,
he tried to calm and cheer me up. He told me to believe in myself and assured me that what I have
attained is a huge feat. He reminded me that my life is the reflection of the choices I made after losing
my parents, which is praiseworthy and exemplary. This made me realize that in the future I wanted
better things for myself and my family. He added that we have to make difficult choices but God always
helps those who push themselves out of their comfort zones. Having little in life might just be an
advantage because you have less fear of losing and have more passion to achieve life goals. His words
helped me to calm down and I started looking forward to the journey.

After that conversation, we took the flight to Germany. I was already soaking in the excitement and the
Stewardship Manager’s inspirational talk was coming back and forth in my mind until we reached
Germany. Still, the nervousness was there as I was the only girl who won the challenge and the youngest
among all the winners. I was constantly preparing myself for potential questions that would be asked by
the Bayer SUA seniors. I was a bit petrified to be in a foreign land and to face highly respectable officials.
But when we landed, my excitement and happiness completely took over my fears and I forgot about all
the worries I have been facing since I got the visa for Germany.

Other winners and I received a warm welcome from the Senior Stewardship Manager and other BSUA
committees. Their kind and supportive behavior were comforting for everyone.

On the first day of our visit to Bayer’s Headquarters in Monheim, we started getting to know each other.
Every winner from different countries introduced themselves with interesting slideshow presentations.
At the time of my presentation, although I felt very anxious, I still took all the courage and confidence to
introduce myself while wearing one of our cultural attires. I also proudly showcased our country’s
cultural dance. From that moment on, my co-winners and I began to get closer to each other. They were
all friendly and humble. They also invited me to join them for a city tour and some drinks. I never
expected that positive space for myself in the group of winners. My self-confidence got a boost and I
started opening more myself with my co-winners. Consequently, I participated in every activity and
shared my experiences and opinions regarding Safe use training.

Under the same program, all the winners were taken to the Netherlands, specifically to Bayer’s forward
farms where we saw different types of nozzles, machines, tractors, safe use practices, drip irrigation
systems, and how those machines and pieces of equipment work. After that, we went to see De Ruiter
Experiences Center where we saw tomato production and attended a short seminar.
The whole trip was a great learning experience. For most of us, the trip was a life-changing opportunity.
We visited various departments of Bayer, Headquarters in Monheim and Leverkusen. We learned a lot
of new technologies and advancements in agriculture. Everyone was amazed and acknowledged the fact
about how complex it is to produce a pesticide.

It was a trip to remember, not just for me but for everyone. We had a great time visiting tourist spots
like The Cathedral and Chocolate Museum, where we got free chocolates which was the icing on the
cake for us. Europe is the seventh heaven, the ancient architecture makes it more paradisaical. I never
thought I could ever get a chance to visit my dreamland, but it seems my hard work and faith made it

true. I guess the old Disney saying, “True courage will pursue your dream even if someone else says it’s
impossible,” is true after all. I also wish I could relive those moments, alas which is impossible but I
would cherish the significant time of my life in Germany. I’m hoping this project will get success over the
years and find more students like me who need a platform to showcase their talent.

I am forever thankful to God for His providence throughout this journey. I’m also grateful to my very
supportive family, mentors, and friends, and for all the Bayer Safe Use community for making this
program successful and open for all young enthusiasts like me. I realized that this BSUA program is truly
a great milestone for the youths to become a catalyst for sustainable farming in the future. It not only
teaches us about safe use practices but also prepares us to become fully responsible for taking care of
our health, the surrounding people, and the environment.


Photos from the event

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