The picture is from my first volunteering experience at Cody Dock, where I helped repair the rescue boat.

We sat down to chat with Ping Yu, an MA Digital Media: Production student, about the many different types of volunteering she has gotten involved in across London.

Would you be able to introduce yourself?

My name is Ping Yu. I come from China and my hometown is Chongqing in the Southeast of China, but I have lived and worked in Shanghai. I’m actually a mature student and before this I have worked for more than 10 years.

I have a passion for learning new things and understanding different cultures, which led me to the UK. I really love this country which I have visited in 2016. It has a very long history and many beautiful places, so I chose this country to study again.

My course is Digital Media Production. I create animations and design digital projects, but I also want to try some different things. I would like to volunteer because I think it’s very meaningful. The attitudes of volunteers are always very nice, and we enjoy chatting with each other. I am eager to participate in the Volunteering Service to make friends and help others. These activities bring me great joy.

Why types of volunteering have you done?

I have done 3 different types of volunteering. One is in the Natural History Museum. I help with the project “Nature Makes.” We made some handcrafted objects with children to inspire them to engage with nature.

Another one is in the Cody Dock, where I helped to repair a rescue boat. It’s a very old boat that saved many lives. Volunteers help to fix it so it can work again in the future. This was a challenging task, but it has increased my patience. It required me to focus highly on one thing, and I believe it’s worthwhile, considering it has saved many lives. I also helped Cody Dock with a project “Big Garden Bird Watch” to record birds. I assisted in observing and recording the different kinds of birds to enhance their understanding about local birds and to help protect the environment there.

The third volunteering thing I did was helping London Chinatown Chinese Association to provide services for the Chinese New Year Celebration. Having worked for many years as a TV series producer, I have extensive experience in managing teams. I consistently organise large teams and work with different departments to generate ideas and make projects. Considering this, I was appointed as the photography volunteer leader, managing more than 20 team members. We worked together to take photos for the Chinese New Year Celebration. This experience was very memorable for me.

Why did you want to try volunteering?

I think volunteering enriches my experience in the UK. Most of my classmates come from China so I didn’t have many chances to meet people from other countries. I think volunteering is a good opportunity to make friends from different places. When I volunteered in the Natural History Museum, I made some friends that are much older than me. They are able to teach me lots of new things and I think that’s very meaningful.

Has there been a particular highlight of your volunteering experience?

Well, in the Chinese New Year Celebration, I was the team leader. During that day everyone was very busy, so I had to really stand up for my team members. That day, I had to organise a complex schedule for people to go and take photos. We had more than thirteen locations we needed to photograph, and it was a long day from 8am to 6pm. So, everybody was overloaded. However, the lunch boxes for volunteers didn’t arrive on time. I believe the lunch was very important because all the team members were volunteers; we needed them to have energy and to enjoy their volunteering. That day, I set up a WhatsApp group and for the whole day I kept an eye on the process and I helped to tell them where they can come have lunch, where they can take a rest, where they can get water and coffee. I think it was important to take care of the team. It was hard work but after that day, the team members thanked me very much. I felt that, “Wow, I did well.” I felt a sense of accomplishment. We were able to take many beautiful, amazing pictures to upload to their official Instagram and website.

My team members also came from many different countries. It was so nice that all these people had an interest in the celebration and wanted to know more about my country’s culture. I think it’s a good chance to communicate with each other, build bridges to form relationships, and help them learn more about China.

And would you recommend volunteering to other people?

Yes! I have already recommended it to many of my classmates. Some of them are very young and sometimes just stay at home. They also don’t have many foreign friends, so I really encourage them to try many different things and not be shy. Now a few of my classmates have also tried some volunteering activities, and I think I have been able to influence this. I feel proud of myself!

Thank you so much to Ping for sharing her wonderful experience! If you would like to get involved in volunteering, make sure to check out our Volunteering Directory to find all of the latest opportunities across London!