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What does the College of Magic mean to me?

It’s 17 years of my 28 years of life. It’s the only organisation that I’ve been committed to and regularly involved with, for that long. It’s a family away from home. It’s the place that taught me many of the important things you don’t learn at school or university. It’s where I learnt how to stand in front of a group of people and be vulnerable, to know my strengths and weaknesses, to be unapologetically myself. Where I discovered my passion for entertaining people, for making them laugh, for making them gasp in wonder, for taking them on a fun adventure, for making them happy. It’s the place where I not only learnt the technical skills to perform magic, but also how to present my art, how to develop a brand, how to handle different audiences, how to deal with clients, how to function under pressure, how to take on responsibilities, how to plan events and delegate tasks, and how to take criticism.

It’s a place for me to have fun, to take part in shows, to dress up and act as a one-man band, Captain Jack Sparrow, a Sangoma in only a buck-skin loincloth, many different clowns, a plumber, a romantic granny, Elvis (complete with drawn-on chest hairs), a dancing lady, a mummy wrapped in enough toilet paper to make me nearly faint after appearing from an illusion, and many other characters that can be best described as ‘interesting’.

It’s been an opportunity to learn that hard work pays off, an opportunity to rehearse an act so many times that it drove me crazy and then rehearse it some more, an opportunity to take that act and represent myself, my country and the College at the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas, to compete against adults and learn that if I practice hard enough, I can place in the top 3. An opportunity to watch and meet some of the best performers in the world, to attend a creativity workshop that was put on just for us by Disney, the best and most creative entertainment company in the world.

It’s a lesson to learn about people from other cultures and other walks of life, to learn how people of different colour and different backgrounds can be friends, can achieve the same things, can learn, work and play together. A lesson to understand the importance of helping others, sharing opportunities and experiences, and building strong relationships. A place to build friendships that I hope last a lifetime, friendships that aren’t like any others, friendships formed and bonded by the College of Magic.

It’s a place that has allowed me to explore my interest in teaching and mentoring young people, to help make a positive difference in the lives of others, to learn the value of planning and preparation, the importance of good education, and the amount of effort and sacrifice that good education requires. It’s been a platform on which to run a part-time business while studying, to earn some pocket money, to learn about building a business plan and to execute it.

It’s been a place to help guide me as a school pupil and university student and to help prepare me for the world of being an adult. It’s been a place where all the lessons that I learnt and tools I gathered, helped me in starting a career, helped me to calmly take on responsibilities at work and at home, helped me to handle the pressure, helped me build important relationships, and helped me stand in front of executives and present my work confidently. It’s been a school that not only made me a better magician and performing artist, but has also made me better in my job as a Data Scientist and Technical Fraud Specialist, and made me overall a better person.

For me, the College of Magic has been close to my heart since I was a little boy, in my first class, learning about the magician’s code and how to make a magic wand stick to my hand. It’s one of the biggest and most important aspects of my life and has contributed an enormous amount to who I am today. I will never be able to thank David and the College enough for that, but I’ll keep trying. Thank you for being all of the above, and happy 40th birthday to the College!