Volunteering as a student gave me the chance to see the real world

27 October 2016

"I've learnt how to build relationships with people from all walks of life. Volunteering is brilliant."

Peju Oshin, Freelance Museum and Gallery Educator

I started volunteering in the summer of 2013. I’d just finished my second year of uni, and had some spare time in the summer holidays before going back. I thought a lot about giving back to the community. When I was younger I did a lot of really fun things that were facilitated by people in the local community. It dawned on me that I wanted to do the same thing. So I started looking for volunteering opportunities online.

My first role was volunteering for the Salvation Army as a Youth Worker. It was a really great opportunity because I was working with young people that weren’t too far away in age from me which made it really easy to build relationships with them. At the time I was studying interior design and but my first love was art. I started running art classes for the young people on Fridays, the day I volunteered. We’d do painting, talk about life, college, art and visit galleries like the Tate. It was really rewarding when I started to see their enthusiasm develop for the arts with them wanting to do more.  

Later I worked on a 10-week project at the London Transport Museum called Model City. It was the project leader who suggested I apply to be Young Freelancer at the museum, as I’d be a really good fit. I got the role and have since worked on a year-long programme aimed at getting young people like myself into museums and galleries. That first key experience, volunteering at the Salvation Army really assisted in demonstrating my love of the arts and young people and definitely helped me get the role.

Recently I’ve started volunteering with another group who run free drama and singing classes for children within the estate. It’s been a chance to take some of my professional working experience from the sector and to give it back. I feel really happy that I’ve got the opportunity to impact the lives of the people that live in my local area.

As I do a lot of freelance work and continue to establish myself, it’s helping me to create a lot of community initiatives. Later this month I have organised a talk and workshop called Commonality Talks: The Education Gap which will gather people to talk about education. I want to talk about how we can continue to educate young people outside the formal arena of schools.say it’s been really worthwhile giving up my time. I truly enjoy helping young people and local communities. With such a varied background, all the dots are beginning to join up. I’ve also started working in a primary school this week. I’m managing after school activities trying to get children to learn through play. It’s been really interesting just watching them explore and monitoring their development. I’ve learned so much from them already.

I feel volunteering is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s great to give your time and see where your contribution is going. I value being able to build relationships with people from all different walks of life. As a student I think uni is quite like a bubble, volunteering gives you a chance to see the real world and understand that things are quite different. I feel volunteering made me a more rounded person. You start to get a really good understanding of people. It’s something that no matter what job you do people will always be at the centre of it. It’s a great way to help you understand the world in a fun and meaningful way. I’d say, give it a go. You won’t regret it.

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