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Student Story: Elena Panayi

What volunteering were you involved in?

I took part in the Right to Read project. As a volunteer, my role was helping young children in a primary school with their reading, writing and numerical skills. Every week I would spend a morning with a group of children and take them out of the class to help them improve in their work. It consisted of comprehension where we would read through a passage together and then they would answer questions on it. Also, fun maths games and fun reading sessions.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I decided to volunteer as I wanted to get more out of my university experience from just getting a degree and socialising with friends. When I joined second year, It was my intention to join some non - academic societies. Volunteering has always been something that I have enjoyed doing since I can remember, and I hope to do more of it. Working with children especially and knowing that I can make their schools days more fun and bring an excitement to learning is something that I find very fulfilling.

What did you gain from volunteering?

I gained a number of skills from volunteering in a primary school and being a part of Right to Read, however there are three main things that I have gained. Firstly, communication skills; learning to communicate and interact on a professional yet friendly level with the teachers and children. Secondly, organisation skills; I had to be very organised with my time and organise a time every week to volunteer in the school without it interfering with my University work. Thirdly, putting other people first. Some weeks I would find myself running overtime slightly but I did not want to leave as I could see how much the children enjoyed learning with me in this fun way. The class teacher also noted to me several times how much of a big help I was helping her in the class. Seeing this first hand impact I was having really put into perspective the importance of putting other people's needs above mine.

What have been the highlights of your volunteering experience?

Getting to know the children and building relationships with each child. I loved every minute I spent with the children and by the end of the 9 weeks of volunteering I really did not want to leave!

Do you think volunteering has had an impact your career?

Yes, it has encouraged my love of people , working with others and making a difference in other people's lives.

Do you think volunteering has had an impact on your wellbeing?

For sure. I would look forward to going into the primary school every week. I found it very therapeutic and rewarding. Being able to take a break from university life and completing work that was really fulfilling. I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to do more in my final year!

What advice would you give to students who want to get involved?

DO IT! If you are thinking about it then do it! I do not regret it one bit. It has been the best thing I have done at university. I'll admit, before starting I was a little apprehensive of doing it as I was not sure if i would enjoy it, but honestly I can promise anybody that they will find volunteering so rewarding, fulfilling and fun!

Name: Elena Panayi

Year of study: 2nd Year

Subject of study: Sociology

Elena Panayi