Tripper of the Week: Ronald Grant
He's worked with indigenous communities in India, jumped out of airplanes over the U.S. and has a black belt in Taekwondo - meet Ronald from the U.K., our Tripper of the Week...
Tell us about your background, "Ronald in 30 seconds."
Well, I have just got back from Birmingham (the UK's 2nd city) to London (my hometown and our capital). I was up in Birmingham for the World Trampoline and Tumbling Championships which the UK hosted this year for the first time in over 40 years. I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of it and my focus whilst I was there was in organizing the competition for the under 18's category. Being up there has given me inspiration to continue overcoming the difficulties in setting up my own clubs in London.
I graduated with a BSc in Computing from the University of Warwick this summer and given the job market is not the easiest I think it is a good idea to play towards something that is an interest of mine. I hope I have been able to give you a good snapshot of where I'm at ;-) "
You recently hosted a Tripper; tell us about your experience.
Hmm, I did recently host a Tripper. Funny that you ask, as she is now with me again. I originally met my Tripper because she was in the process of moving jobs from a place outside London to a role in the city. It was useful for her to get a feel of the city rather than just arriving. This was how I heard from her. She was great company and we kept in touch a lot.
As it happens she has unexpectedly ended in this job so is passing through my place once more. What I really love abut websites like yours is they give people like me - who are able and willing to help someone from a far away place – the opportunity to stop others losing hope when things are going wrong far away from home.
Another example I will share is of a Texan girl who got scammed by someone on Craigslist when they had her believe she was paying rent for a place in London. She lost $2000. I was able to encourage her to stick with her trip and she is happily doing a make up course in London now.
What is your favorite aspect of hosting travelers?
My favourite aspect of hosting a Tripper is that I can really make a difference in someone's trip and as corny as this sounds - in their life. When you are in a new place it can be really daunting and I have noticed that people do not always manage expectations so well. I'll illustrate this with another example. I had 2 Norwegian guys stay with me for 2 nights. I thought they were checking out the UK to see if it was for them as I had gathered from their pre-trip emails that they were looking to move here. It transpired that they were expecting to move into a place within 48 hours of arriving. Obviously this was an impossible task for them to set themselves but I was able to host them for the next couple of weeks until they found a place. I grew up in foster homes when I was younger and being a host allows me to project onto people the household I would have loved to have had when I was younger.
You spent your gap year working with a charity in South India. What are your favorite memories from that experience?
I did spend some time in India. My time there was split between assisting the labourers in building anti poaching camps in the National Park, working with the locals in the indigenous communities and trekking through the jungle and kayaking in the rivers.
I have many pleasant memories from there but a poignant one was the way in which people were so friendly with one another. E.g. We would be on a coach with our guide and he'd often pull over for us to stretch our legs. When we returned to the bus we would see him laughing and sharing food/jokes with all the people passing by. It was phenomenal. In the UK we barely even say hello to our neighbours!
Taekwondo is one of your passions. How long have you been practicing Taekwondo and how did you first get into it?
I do enjoy Taekwondo. I got involved when I was about 14. A family friend mentioned it and I begun to attend sessions. I had a 6 year hiatus though as the black belts were unacceptably violent towards juniors. Furthermore my fees were never paid as foster carers believed the allowances they received from the state were for themselves. I have since got involved again at university and won the London Championships this summer. I was too busy with trampoline so missed the Nationals. There's always next year ;-)
Skydiving is another passion. What has been your favorite skydiving experience thus far?
I got involved in Skydiving at university. During induction week all the different groups and societies set up stalls to entice you to join in their activity. Skydiving appealed to me because it was so... Out there. My most memorable experience was when I went to California last year. I hadn't jumped in a while so was wrapped up in my skydive as we were ascending as opposed to focusing on what was going on. Routinely someone opens the door to check our location relative to the dropzone.
Anyway, the door opening translated as my cue to jump.... So I did. I opened my parachute up wondering why on earth I could not see anything familiar. I ended up landing in some random field a few miles away and I had about 6 cars fighting to drive me back. The lady who got me was ecstatic as she had been having a day from hell. Furthermore, the US manner is a lot more relaxed. In the UK that would have been a stern telling off or a ban but in CA I was the man of the trip!
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go next?
If I could travel anywhere in the world next I would choose to go to North Korea. I have some Chinese Trippers with me right now and they feel uncertain to go there. I love the mysterious but I guess I would follow all advice to stay safe there! Not that I am deep enough in Taekwondo to really use that as an excuse but many Taekwondo gurus go there - it's where it began.
Connect with Ronald via his Tripping profile - swap tales of travel adventures, get tips on travel to India or cool places in London - or Trip with him next time you're in his city.