Sarah Johnston, one of our board members, is a hosteller who is not afraid to think outside of the box and speak her mind. In this interview you can read about her experiences, opinions on environmental issues and the problems facing our youth today and the things she considers the small pleasures in life.
1. What makes our mission meaningful to you?
I think people don’t appreciate and fight for the environment if they’ve no connection to it or much positive experience of it. I also believe it’s important to have experiences in the real world & leave the virtual world behind for a while, for mental health & personal growth all of which I think youth hostelling propagates.
2. What are some of your prior board leadership experiences/What are you hoping to achieve on the An Óige board?
I haven’t had any previous board leadership experiences, but on the An Oige board I hope to make life long friends who share the spirit of adventure and use my enthusiasm and skills to help promote and facilitate this quality throughout the organisation.
3. What is your favourite hostel and why?
Ben Lettery, is at the foot of the Twelve Bens Mountain Range, over looking Ballynahinch Lake. The Lake has a Castle on an Island used as a jail by Humanity Dick, who imprisoned his workers for cruelty to animals and eventually passed an act in The Parliament which led to the founding of the RSPCA. Cool eh? I love that you can borrow a bike in the hostel and take off exploring the many cycle trails in Connemara.
4. Where do you work and what are your responsibilities?
I work for a non profit organisation working to get direct payments to people with disabilities from the health service. It’s mostly administrative and communications work, but we’re a tiny team so I also assist with member relations.
5. What kind of clients do you work with?
People with physical and intellectual disabilities.
6. Who is the most interesting person you met in a hostel?
An Israeli travel blogger who has been traveling for over 12 years. He has a massive following in Israel so it was amusing to walk down the street and watch him get stopped all the time for selfies.
7. Do you have a childhood/defining moment when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?
A very nerdy series of Christmases where each year I got the extended Lord of The Rings and binge watched ALL the making of, and thought set designer!
8. Tell us one place you would love to see again?
The public hot springs in La Fortuna Costa Rica surrounded by rain forest. Relaxed to the max.
9. Tell us one place you never want to see again.
Hmm probably any dorm I’ve ever been confined to due to various travel illnesses. Being sick requires home comforts and solitude, not an audience of strangers.
10. Favourite location in Ireland?
The Bearra Peninsula for me trumps the Ring of Kerry, although Co. Donegal is a close second.
11.If you were going hostelling and had to bring three famous people, who would you invite? Charlie Brooker, Harmony Korine and Little Richard.
12. What does true leadership mean to you?
True leadership means taking responsibility for the welfare of others while working to help them lead themselves some day.
13. You can have one superpower, what do you choose?
Being 100% waterproof would be very practical in Ireland.
14. Describe yourself using the title of a soap opera/book/film.
The Royal Tenenbaums, a bit arty and weird.
15. What are the characteristics of a good board member?
A good board member works well in a group, understands what can and can’t be done realistically. Understands the weaknesses and strengths of the orgainisation and works to turn the weaknesses into strengths.
If you want to find out more about our board you could always go and enjoy a Lord of The Rings movie marathon with Sarah in the hostel, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.