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“I’ve seen that people can do anything they want, regardless of what others may say." Meet Tayla Schou, WorldSkills Champions Trust

26 April 2016

Durban, South Africa is the hometown of a chef ready to change the world. Tayla Schou’s passion for cooking developed as a child, reading the recipes for her dad who is partially-blind. As she helped to prepare the family’s meals, she experienced the many ways food brought people to together.

In high school, art was the only subject that kept Tayla’s attention.  While sitting in detention after school one day a teacher asked her what she wanted to do when she graduated. Tayla knew that even if other people doubted her abilities, she never would.

The questions asked by her teacher triggered Tayla to consider what she enjoyed doing and cooking was an obvious choice. She began working at a local restaurant and later enrolled in one of South Africa’s top culinary schools, which was serendipitously only a short walk from her house.

While attending The Fusion Cooking School, Tayla was asked to compete in the WorldSkills South Africa national competition in Cooking. She trained every day after school and on Sundays for months leading up to the Competition, where she earned a gold medal and position on Team South Africa for WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

Upon arrival in Brazil Tayla knew she was in for an experience that would change the way she looked at the world. She participated with her team in One School One Country, an inspiring program that matches a WorldSkills Member team to a school in the host country. The local students learnt about the values, traditions, and culture of South Africa, as well as skilled careers, while the Competitors had the experience of connecting with young people in Brazil.

The school Tayla visited had been decimated years earlier in a landslide, but the people of the mountain village had rebuilt it with the simple materials they had. This reminded Tayla of the gifts determination had also given her. She was reminded that you get out of life what you invest in it. “One School One Country was the most amazing day of my life,” explained Tayla. “I’ve seen that people can do anything they want, regardless of what others may say or what they have to overcome.”

Now as a representative on the WorldSkills Champions Trust, Tayla is determined to share with other Africans the benefits she has received through the WorldSkills community. “I firmly believe that through the power of artisanal and vocational skills, I can help Africa grow, as well as help to change the world,” said Tayla.

Sometimes inspiration requires people to travel the globe. Other times, it is as close as your kitchen and the school down the street. Tayla found inspiration from both, and the world is richer for it.