Artemis is a second-year student studying Experimental Linguistics. We had a lovely chat about the work she has been doing to help Afghan refugees through a Student-Led Project, Impact Initiative.

Tell us a little about your volunteering

Impact Initiative is a Student-Led Project and, we partnered up with Hopscotch Women’s Centre, an organisation that works to empower women, to provide English lessons to Afghan refugees. There are three slots every week and, we get to choose which ones we want to sign up for.

Why did you want to become a volunteer?

I am a first-generation immigrant, and I understood the importance of being able to fit in when you are in a foreign setting. The first step to do that would be learning the language so that you can express yourself in the way you want to. I have gone through the same thing as well, so I knew the importance of having language as the main tool to integrate into society.

What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?

There are two sides when talking about the benefits volunteering has- what they receive and what you receive.

With the refugees I was working with, it was seeing them progress with daily tasks that appear simple to us since we already know the language. After the first few sessions, they told us they were a lot more confident going grocery shopping! These small steps that bring them great joy let me see that taking some time out of my day to help them was worth it.

What impact has volunteering had on you?

We all have so much going on in our lives, especially with the ongoing pandemic, university and personal life stresses. It is very easy to get wrapped up in our negative thinking and stress bubble. Taking time to volunteer has allowed me to step out of that bubble and be present.

I know one major concern students usually have is that they would be wasting study time if they were to volunteer. But I think the refresher you get is really worth it!

Our primary identity here at UCL is that of a student. Only when we dare to step out of that assigned role will we see that primary identity adapt. It makes you realise that there is much more to life than academia. I think I underestimated how much of my stress I could get rid of by putting a smile on other peoples’ faces. The feeling of knowing that I am bettering myself through bettering others is unmatched.

What’s the best thing about volunteering? 

All the things I mentioned above! The satisfaction of being able to step out of your comfort zone and interact with others to create a real, tangible impact on their lives.

And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges? 

I would say the language barrier was a bit of a challenge at first. But we tried to make it easier by doing or saying things that would make them laugh or lighten the mood!

Want to start your own Student-led Volunteering Project? Find out more and share your ideas with us here!