Alexa Wilson, Commercial Film Director, Arcade Content
Posted: 26 August 2022
Alexa Wilson, an alumna of St Stithians Girls’ College in South Africa feels her Round Square experiences awakened in her the sense of Adventure and subsequently led her towards a life of creativity and she now works as Commercial Film Director for Arcade Content in Johannesburg, South Africa.
As a student of 15 at St Stithians Girls’ College, Alexa took the opportunity to go on a Round Square exchange to Lawrence School Sanawar in the Himalayas, Northern India. Alexa says that she was already well travelled and used to different parts of the world and different cultures but that “suddenly being thrown into an environment where everything was very different was hard, but also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”
Going from a day school to a boarding school with a six-day week, felt challenging but Alexa says that she loved the adventure and the social aspect, “I loved connecting with the people and when I came back it was quite hard to integrate back into middle school life because I’d had this larger-than-life experience”. Alexa felt that this exchange “opened up a doorway of all these interesting experiences, different cultures, different people.” Alexa says, “if you are feeling uncomfortable, there is growth happening. And I think that that is what these opportunities provide us…the opportunity to lean in and sit with what is uncomfortable.
Alexa feels that travel and immersion in a foreign culture fosters compassion and allows us to return home with a different perspective, seeing things in a different light, “you realize that people come from different backgrounds and develop the empathy of being able to walk in someone else’s shoes.”
When asked about the challenges and how she overcame them, Alexa explained,
“It was such a different experience….I arrived in India, spent some time with family
and then I was taken to this beautiful almost Hogwarts-like boarding school…I went into this Harry Potter land, but it is, it’s an incredible stone school that’s perched on the Himalayas”. Alexa found it hard at times being so far from home and family, she feels it also created a level of independence and confidence in her , “ I don’t think I’ve ever experienced homesickness quite like that; a yearning to come home in the first two weeks or so, but once that abated, I honestly didn’t want to leave.”
Alexa had the opportunity to live with a few different families and found that in India there is an inherent connection to service through their everyday lifestyle. Alexa shared an example. It was when she was staying with a Sikh family during Divali, the festival of lights, that she experienced first-hand the impact of service. “We ended up going to one of their temples” and seeing how this place of worship offered refuge for so many. A few years later when she visited the much larger – Golden Temple by herself, she felt humbled on finding out that here they provided up to 70,000 people of all faiths a warm meal. She feels that in the western world, money is often seen to be the first solution to service.
Alexa believes that the Round Square exchange experience is invaluable and that, “getting involved in some sort of program or community service is to regularly be struck by your smallness is such an essential part of living a rewarding, meaningful life.”
Alexa is now 34 and based in Johannesburg, South Africa and working in film, in the arts. When asked what advice she would give to her younger self, Alexa offers:
People are so different, and they deal with the world in different ways and sometimes that’s a good thing. We don’t all have to do things the same way, it’s when happy accidents happen. When someone sees something from a different perspective and can kind of invite you into that.