We had the pleasure of chatting with Patricia Gimeno Le Paih, reading MSci Biological Sciences, about her volunteering at the Age UK as a Spanish teacher.

Tell us a little about your volunteering

I wanted to get involved in some way or the other during the summer break and I thought volunteering would be a productive use of my time. This led me to be a volunteer at Age UK where I took on the role of a Spanish teacher. I would host sessions every Wednesday during the summer and usually spent that morning preparing content and texts for the sessions.

How did you find out about the role?

I found the role on the volunteering website and remembered seeing a student profile of a volunteer in a similar role to mine. I thought the experience would be great and so applied and got in!

Why did you want to become a volunteer?

I was in Spain at the time and was feeling the effects of summer boredom! There weren’t a lot of opportunities to volunteer in Spain either. That’s why I found the online opportunities very helpful.

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

I did not think I was making a great deal of difference at first. But I soon realised I had made an impact when the elders at Age UK told me our session was the highlight of their week! Having those online lessons made them visibly happy. It was quite fun as we would often delve into light-hearted political discussions. Since they had lived through much more than me, it was lovely to listen to their anecdotes and hear the important lessons they learnt from life.

What impact has volunteering had on you?

I used to be very shy when it came to meeting new people and making conversation. After volunteering, I find it a lot easier to talk to people. I gained useful admin skills will liaising with my supervisor and the wider team.

During each session, I also learnt how to adapt to unexpected situations and get everyone talking. I often found that some of my mentees were more reserved and would try to involve them in our discussions. It was important to know and understand how to manage the situation and think on your feet.

What’s the best thing about volunteering? 

Meeting new people! I met people from different walks of life and different generations since I was working with my supervisor and my mentees. I also got to interact with people from all over Europe- the benefit of a remote role.

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

I wouldn’t say there were any major hurdles that I faced while volunteering since the task itself was pretty easy. The only challenge would be calming my mentees down when they got too excited. This would also mean helping the quiet ones talk. But again, this wasn’t too difficult since they all wanted to learn and be there for the session.

Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst volunteering.

The last session was the most memorable one for me. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t think I was doing something that big but when I saw the emails and nice messages from my mentees, I was thrilled. You never know the impact that you can have to someone’s day until you step up and help them.

Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why? 

Yes, of course! You can choose how much you want to commit in terms of hours and volunteering genuinely makes you happy. Whenever you feel stressed, it’s the best way to go out and do something rewarding.