Linda Djougang walks into the circle of rapt faces clutching a piece of her soul.
She is 5,000 miles away and everyone in this distant land had been a stranger until a few weeks before.
And yet she feels a bond unlike anything she has felt before. She feels as close to home as ever seemed, possible, too.
And that is because within her grasp is a photograph of a little girl bearing a broad smile similar to those before her now.
It is November 2022 and the Ireland international prop has found herself halfway around the world in the Cayman Islands; she would rather have been at the World Cup on another side of the globe.
An unusual invitation has brought her to this island idyll to coach rugby to enthusiastic young girls who have sponged every morsel of information she has eagerly provided.
And now she gives them a piece of herself.
“I had asked the girls to bring in items from their home that inspired them,” she tells us. “So they brought in shoes, boots and toys.”
But what, the Irish Independent asks, inspired Linda Djougang?
“A picture,” she says softly. “A picture of myself as a baby. I told them that when this little baby was growing up, she had no idea what the future would hold for her.
“How could a little girl in Cameroon ever believe it was possible to play international rugby for Ireland. How could that possibly happen?
“By having this privilege to teach these young children, I could remind them, and perhaps remind myself too, of all the hard work which was necessary to take any opportunity you are given, and to use it well.
“Nothing is ever given to you. I had to create that opportunity from the chance. And looking at that child in the picture now, I’m so proud of her.
“These kids were all on the same journey, and who knows where it might take them? They are already representing their country at a very young age, their clubs and communities. This is where it starts, and the journey can lead anywhere, with hard work and determination.
“And so I wanted to show them that. And when they win, it is their win. They were being so vulnerable by exposing their inner desires to each other in front of a group. That can be intimidating. But it also makes a squad so strong.
“For me, as their teacher, the only way I could get them to expose that vulnerability was to show them my vulnerable side too.”
Memory compounded the intensity of the raw emotion as the sun beat down on the South Sound rugby ground.
The little girl in the picture would soon leave her home in Douala, Cameroon, on a day not unlike this one, knowing she would never return to see Julienne Koubeu.
But they would never stop loving each other and telling each other so.
Djougang arrived in Ireland with her extended family in search of opportunities and found them.
Aside from already accumulating 24 caps in the decade since first googling “What is rugby?”, she is a registered nurse in Tallaght Hospital.
But that job is on hold as she joins the pioneering ranks of Irish professional women.
It was little wonder that, given all she has achieved, she felt the need to give something back.
Despite their reputation, the Cayman Islands is not just a tax haven; and, because there is no tax, a litre of milk and loaf of bread will set you back a tenner.
“It probably cost me money,” she smiles.
“Linda made a huge impact in our Cayman rugby community,” avers Mercedes Foy, the fomer hooker who now teaches the girls inspired by Djougang.
“She helped to grow and raise the profile of rugby in lessons, after school clubs and during our club sessions, inspiring them to get into rugby.
“She was passionate about making a difference and left a positive mark on so many young people and adults here.
“Her positive outlook, knowledge and expertise really helped to elevate participation numbers and our set piece skills. And she embraced every challenge with a smile on her face.”
As much as she helped others, Djougang was pleasantly surprised to experience a significant development in her own personality.
After spending an intense period in the French professional game, with Clermont, it offered the perfect chance for her to unwind after Ireland’s historic summer tour to Japan.
“It was really good for me to get away from the playing side of things, too,” she admits.
“I’m so grateful because I learned so much about myself, everything before was from a player’s perspective so it was nice to see things from a different point of view.
“You had to get to know these young people on and off the field. We were going to a competition in Mexico so there is a responsibility.
“It is fun but also a challenge. You’re trying to ensure there is some accountability and that’s where the idea about asking about inspiration came from.”
Even more profoundly, she unearthed from within the voice that she always knew existed, but which she had supressed for too long.
“It’s not that I was scared of communicating,” says Djougang, who continues to impart her wisdom to the girls of King’s Hospital school.
“But I’ve always been aware of how I speak. I’ve never been comfortable speaking out loud or anything like that.
“We have big voices on the Irish team so I’ve never had to speak much. But this moved me out of my comfort zone. And I loved that. I had to do all the talking!
“I always felt before my English wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t good enough.
It wasn’t the case. But when I went there, I learned that I’m just perfect the way I am. I’m just normal. I’m like everyone else. I can speak, people can listen.
“And I notice people have a choice. And that’s how it felt to me. I can lead. There is nothing that I don’t have. I have a voice!
“It felt like a revelation to me. Even growing up, and being in a competitive environment, you lose a little sense of yourself.
“When English is not your first language, you are wondering ‘Am I saying this the right way?’ But now I could step up to that. These girls have to listen to me.
“And I have to speak to them. And they think you’re amazing even if you don’t think you are.
“They want the opportunity I have so I have to make them believe that they can have it.”
Having travelled halfway around the world to find a deeper sense of herself, she embraced Ireland ever more warmly when she returned.
“Apart from the weather!” she laughs. “But I’m excited about the year ahead.
“I learned so much in France, about off-loading and using space and I’ve also passed on some ideas about S & C.
“It was painful watching a World Cup without Ireland but this is a new start for us and we’re building all the time.”
And perhaps for the first time in her extraordinary life, she is not afraid to say it out loud.