Student Volunteering Week

As part of Barclays supporting Student Volunteering Week, we are encouraging students to share their own stories of how they have donated their time make a difference to the lives of others.

I have a personal experience that I would like to share about the time I spent teaching in an orphanage and school in Zanzibar (an island just off the coast of Tanzania) during a vacation period at university, prior to joining Barclays as a Graduate.

As a second year university student, I wanted to make the most of my summer. I wanted an experience that would not only immerse me in a new culture and provide a new perspective on the world, but also an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of those less fortunate than myself. My classmate felt exactly the same so we embarked on the adventure together.

Living on the island for 5 weeks, I went to the local school every day to teach the young children basic Maths and English. My morning would start at the local school in Stone Town, where the lesson plan involved teaching the children the English words for basic phrases. I recall that the first few days involved teaching the children the English words for household pets. However in Zanzibar, household pets meant chickens and goats rather than cats and dogs.

In the afternoons I would volunteer at the local orphanage, helping to carry out maintenance work to the building, and again teach basic maths and English to the children. I will never forget seeing one child open a box of cornflakes and share them out amongst all the other children in the orphanage. It’s surprising how people with so little are ever so willing to share. This gift of generosity was priceless.
Half way through our time on the island, we realised that many of the children at the school were not educated around healthy living or healthy eating. The children’s lunch boxes were full of crisps, chocolate and unhealthy snacks. So my friend and I decided to provide fruit for the children and try to educate them about healthy eating. Seeing how excited the children were during this time was just one of many highlights of my experience.
I went to Zanzibar with the intention of volunteering my time to help the islands children, and to learn about a new culture. However, looking back the experience was so much more than this. It provided me with some of the most unique and poignant moments of my life so far. If I had even a fraction of the impact on the lives of the children, which the children had on mine, then that is more than I could ask ever ask for. I am forever grateful for my memorable and rewarding experience.

Even after leaving university and gaining full time employment my passion for volunteering still remains. I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in many citizenship activities since joining Barclays, which have allowed me to continue to give back to communities by giving my time. Giving your time to help others, priceless!