Guest Blog: An international perspective on volunteering

Matt Cox, Youth Engagement Officer at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has written about his experience of working with Coventry University students at Claybrookes Marsh in October 2014. A link to his blog can be found here: http://wkwtyoungpeople.wordpress.com/ 

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Freshers week is a busy time at any university campus and this year the Coventry University volunteer team took advantage of this by arranging a ‘give it a go week’. Its aim was to introduce students to new volunteering opportunities around the city and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust agreed to lead a conservation day with a group of international students and post-graduates at Claybrookes Marsh Nature Reserve. It was a special opportunity to welcome people from around the world onto one of our reserves and take the time to talk to them about the environmental issues affecting not just Warwickshire but the country as a whole. Many of the participants’ previous experience of wildlife conservation was very different, like the large national parks in Nigeria for instance, but the recognition that it is important to care for our natural environment was something we all shared. Of particular interest were the reasons why these people had come together to volunteer with the Trust for a day. No one had met before and everyone’s previous experience of volunteering was different. So what were the motivations? I felt that this would be really interesting to explore in a blog post, so with their support I chatted throughout the day to every person to gain an insight into how they saw volunteering. I have transcribed and included a few of the conversations below.

Mehmet
Mehmet is an Engineering Management student from Turkey who at the time of volunteering with us had only been in the UK for one week. He was enthusiastic to get involved in the practical side of the work we were doing and also sees volunteering as an opportunity to try new things and meet new people. His interest in volunteering began when he volunteered with the the American Field Service. During some time spent in Germany on an exchange program a flood took place close to where he was living and the local council recruited volunteers to help the people affected by the flood to move damaged furniture out of their houses. This has helped to build Mehmet’s view of volunteering as something worthwhile beyond any personal gains.

Amaku
Amaku from NigeriaI’ve been speaking to Amaku a lot in the afternoon about his experiences of being outside as child in Nigeria, helping family members harvesting crops at their farm. Being at Claybrookes Marsh today as the sunshine is finally punching through the clouds reminds him of these memories and he is happy. Amaku has just finished a MSc in Petroleum and Environmental Technology and now that he has some free time he is doing some more volunteering. He hadn’t done volunteering before until he came to the UK to study and helped out at the Coventry Food Bank. Working with other volunteers left a strong impression on him because he saw people working hard out of passion rather than for money and has since felt compelled to do more. Amaku has been particularly interested in how nature conservation operates in the UK so it has been great to inform him about the challenges we face over here.

Noemie and Kerttu
Noemie and Kerttu are friends and the only two to know each other before coming today. Noemie is from Finland and is on a nursing placement here for one year. She has never volunteered before until today and its Coventry Universities commitment to volunteering that makes it easy for people like her to get involved. She finds it great to be outside in nature and is enojying the opportunity to socialise with others. Kerttu is from France and has done summer camps in over there as a volunteer. She enjoys spending time outside which is what made today appeal to her.

Yousef
Yousef is here for the workout. He has been stuck into the physical stuff all day and he feels good. He is a Construction Project Management student from Iraq and is in the UK for one year to get the kudos associated with the British construction industry. I spend some time talking to him about the importance of developing sustainable practices in the construction industry and its clear that the future well fare of the environment is important to him. He tells me that we take a lot from others and the environment so its only right that we give something back. I can’t agree more. Its inspirational to be able to spend a day talking with such a diverse group and find that a passion for the environment is common amongst us all. Working for a local charity its easy to forget that the challenges we face ahead are global and will require involvement from everyone if they are to be overcome. Today has certainly made me think this is possible.

Sports Coaching Volunteering: Coventry University Netball Team

 

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Volunteering is often more fun when done with friends or as part of a group or team. Last week, Coventry University’s Netball Team led on a day of sports and activities with 29 children from a local school in Coventry. The Team’s Volunteer Secretary, Emily Kenworthy has been instrumental in the coordination and running of the day. She writes about her experience below:

The day was run by 6 members of Coventry university netball team who volunteered at Coventry University’s Sports Centre from 10am-2.00pm.  The event was attended by 29 year 6 children from Longford Park School in Coventry.  The day consisted of many sport games which got the children to be really active and play a variety of different games all day.

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The activities included:

–          Stuck in the Mud

–          Parachute Games

–          Group Numbers game

–          Duck Duck Goose

–          Cups and saucers Continue reading

Monica Dinu and Andreea Moise – Language Register Case Study

DSC02589What is the language register?

The Language Register is a volunteering scheme offered by CUSU Volunteering and Employability that matches multilingual student volunteers with primary and secondary school children with limited English skills. By matching them with a student who is able to speak both English and the child’s native language, children gain invaluable support with their school work and are better able to understand the subject matter in the classroom.

The language register is open all year round, but is subject to availability. When registering with V&E, make sure to tell us which language you can speak and we will match you with any child who needs support in that given language.

What have the students gained from the project?

Monica Dinu and Andreea Moise are both international students from Romania. The language register was the perfect volunteering opportunity for them as they are both seeking a future career in teaching, and have a desire to support students who have recently arrived from Romania. Continue reading

Student Volunteer Case Study: Arts and Crafts Club

About the project

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One of our key student-led projects this year has been the after school arts and crafts group. They have been volunteering with Allesley Primary school throughout term 2. The group holds their sessions on Monday afternoons from 3.30-4.30pm

The group is led by four student volunteers, Nuala Mckillop, Chantel Milford, Jade Savill and Zoe Button. Nuala originally had the idea to start the project, and managed to recruit three students who, like her, were thinking of a future career working with children. This project was ideal for giving them an insight into what teaching is really like.

The numbers of children the girls have worked with has grown since the project’s first session. They are now supporting over 30 children after taking the decision to cap the numbers. Needless to say this has been a very popular few weeks for all involved.

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What have students gained from the project? Continue reading

Rachel Faturoti – Student Tutoring (EAL Support)

languagesWhat is Student Tutoring?

Student Tutoring is a schools volunteering scheme offered by V&E. It is open to all level 2 or 3 add+vantage module students on the’ Volunteering in Schools’ option, and to any non-modular students looking to gain tutoring experience. The specifics of the role can vary, from offering one-to-one support to the same child over a number of weeks, to working with a different group of children from week to week. The module requirements are for students to offer a minimum of 20 hours volunteering over 10 weeks in term 2. The scheme is open to non-modular students all year, subject to availability.

What is EAL Support?

EAL stands for ‘English as an additional language’. School children who may have recently arrived in the country, or do not get the chance to practice their English outside of school, often require extra assistance with their studies. Ideally they will be matched with a multi-lingual volunteer who can speak the same language as the child, but this is not a pre-requisite for signing up for EAL volunteering support. Because of the language barrier, both the children and the school highly value any assistance available.

Rachel Faturoti is currently working with 2 pupils in year 11, studying at Cardinal Wiseman Secondary School in Coventry. One student has recently arrived from Poland. Because of their lack of English skills, Rachel is supporting them with their work one on one, with an eye to integrating them into the lessons and working with other children. Continue reading

Omaria Haq – Right to Read

What is ‘Right to Read (R2R)’?

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Right to Read is a volunteering opportunity offered to CU students by the Volunteering and Employability department. This can be done either through the ‘volunteering in schools’ add+vantage module Level 1, or by making a general inquiry to V&E and signing up.

The scheme is designed to support school children struggling with basic reading skills, with the aim to helping them achieve the standards that are required of children at their age. First and foremost, student volunteers are expected to raise the confidence levels of children and encourage them to read out loud. This is done by building a relationship with the child and being in a position to offer constructive feedback.

Omaria has been volunteering with a child at Radford Primary School in Coventry for 1 ½ hours a week. So, what has she been doing?

‘’I mainly listen to the child read out loud, and offer feedback where necessary. I then help her with words she doesn’t understand by using a ‘flashcard’ exercise. I get her to write down the words onto a piece of card and help her construct a sentence using the word on the back of the card. I got the idea from my own GCSE revision and it’s worked really well’’. Continue reading

The Ancient Greek History Group

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About the Project

The Ancient Greek History Group is a student-led volunteering project that has been running for the past two years. Its main aims are to introduce primary school aged children to ancient Greek culture and language.

The project began last year, and was the brain child of the project founders, Michael Burling, Jessica Ray and Lucy Hanlon. With Michael on a placement this academic year, Lucy and Jess managed to recruit three new student volunteers in Katie Rose Needs, Gemma King and Tamara Morgan, to make sure the project continued its success into its second year.

Ancient Greek history is usually full of key, significant events that are easy to find in most academic textbooks. What this project seeks to do is to allow children to imagine what everyday life was like for the Greeks, including how they dressed, what food they ate, their family and work life, and what school was like for the little ones. Ancient Greece and Rome are key features in primary school curriculums in Coventry, and this project has served as the perfect way for teachers to kick start their teaching agendas.

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