Aneeta is studying an MA in Film Studies and she volunteered with the Student-Led Project DanceIt! , which is part of the UCL Dance Society. Read more to find out her experience and the impact that volunteering has had on herself and on others.
Tell us a little about your volunteering.
I was so excited to work with children. We taught primary school students how to dance, they were only 8 years old and I had never taught this age group before, so I was a little bit nervous, but then I saw that the children were very positive, very active, and they had a strong passion for dance, so I was quite happy to have this experience with them.
The experience was very meaningful to me because I am very passionate about dance and I want to share this passion with more people, especially children, because when I was a child, I didn’t have many opportunities to learn to dance in my primary school, the only way I could learn was during after school activities, which could be very costly. So, when I heard about DanceIt! and how these children could have the opportunity to learn dance skills for free, I signed up without hesitation.
It was also an opportunity for me to achieve my dream of being a dance teacher, so the experience was definitely worth it for me, and it made me very happy.
How did you find out about this opportunity?
I followed the UCL Dance Society on Instagram, which is how I find out about their activities and when I saw this opportunity I didn’t think twice!
What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?
First of all, it's very different to get along with kids than it is to get along with, for example, university students, because they are much younger than me. So, I had to develop some communication skills to talk with them and find ways to attract their attention, because they're too young to focus for long periods of time during the dance lessons.
I needed to change my language and use different words that children would like and always smile and be friendly, and I remember that a lot of the children came to me after class and asked when they would see me again and if they could travel to China with me.
Even though it was a short time compared to our whole lives, I will remember these afternoons, and I hope the children will also remember them as an amazing experience learning to dance with a girl from another country.
What impact has volunteering had on you?
I think it has had a big impact. First, most of my classmates are from different parts of the world, so this was my first time speaking constantly with local people, which gave me a sense of their different habits and form of speaking, they taught me a lot of new English words and that was quite exciting.
The second and the biggest for me is that these kids taught me that I can make a little bit of difference in the world, because I sometimes think that I'm quite insignificant and I’m not sure what I can contribute to this world, but when I teach them, I find that it’s something worthwhile and I found that this experience is more meaningful for me than any amount of money in the world.
What would you say was the best thing about volunteering?
The best thing for me is the moment when the kids respond to me, because, you know, when you are a teacher, you hope that the students will pay attention to you, and when they learn something from you, I think it's the best part for me...
...seeing the outcome and how they could all follow my dance moves and do a very good job.
And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges?
I think the most challenging part is knowing how to get along with children, because they are too young, so a lot of the time they cannot focus on you and will get distracted with other things. Also, I had groups of about 30 kids, which also makes it challenging.
How I tried to overcome this is by finding ways to attract their attention and make them excited about the dance moves, for example, I asked them questions like “what are you feeling? Is it easy for you? Should I repeat?”, or by praising them when they did a good job. This way they could return their attention to the dance, think if they need to try again or other children listening might want to do a very good job as well and get praises.
Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why?
Yes, absolutely. This experience has been quite amazing for me, and I have even recommended this opportunity to a lot of my friends. I think you can gain a lot, even beyond your expectations, and it will be amazing and unforgettable.
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