December 4, 2020, by Grace Dixon
International Volunteer spotlight: Tia Papoutselou
Saturday 5 December marks International Volunteer Day and to celebrate, our Leadership Academy ambassador Grace Dixon spoke to Leadership Academy volunteer and international student, Tia Papoutselou about her experiences.
What is International Volunteer Day?
International Volunteer Day is an annual event and a great opportunity to celebrate the diversity of everyone involved in volunteering. It’s also a chance to highlight how getting involved in volunteering and leadership, can really help with some of the challenges faced by international students in the UK.
Yes – all students face ups and downs – University represents a huge change. However, many international students can feel lonely or isolated sometimes and getting involved with campus activities is an excellent way to build vital networks with their peers and people with similar interests.
Volunteering is on that list of fun activities. It is an incredible chance to meet a diverse range of individuals and people who normally you would never cross paths with can become your closest friends. You also get a really important opportunity to interact with the local community whilst your home network isn’t on your doorstep. Tia is one of many international volunteers here at the University of Nottingham and we spoke to her about her experience…
The hardest thing about being an international student to start with was not feeling like I was part of the local community. I had made lots of really good friends within the University, from all corners of the world which was great. However, I found it difficult to feel belonging within my local community as I didn’t really know anyone outside the University of Nottingham.
To start with, I got involved with the UoN Sport Leadership Academy through some one-off opportunities like the British Wheelchair Basketball University Championships. I then applied for the Sport for Good programme, which I’ve now been volunteering on for the past two years.
My favourite thing about volunteering is the chance to meet new people and immerse myself in new projects that have a really positive impact. The opportunity to interact and build relationships with people in my local community has been amazing. I have been able to make new friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It has also allowed me to better understand the British culture.
Perhaps the hardest thing, is finding the time to volunteer in the first place. University life can sometimes get hectic quite quickly!
I really think volunteering is definitely something worth making the time for. Especially for international students, as it can be a great opportunity to make new friends and feel more connected with your community. It can really help you feel less homesick and adjust more easily to your new life here. You’ll also have plenty of chances to practice your English and build your communication skills!
You can, like Tia, become part of our community by getting involved in our Leadership Academy. The Academy offers you the chance to develop your leadership skills through sport with real opportunities on campus and in our local community. Opportunities include working with local schoolchildren, coaching your fellow students and volunteering at major sporting events on campus.
You don’t need any previous experience with sport or volunteering to take part in the Leadership Academy. Our team offers extensive support to help you develop your skills, including mentoring and the opportunity to gain recognised coaching and leadership qualifications.
If you’re looking to develop your skills, add to your CV, build links with industry partners and / or you are considering a career in management, education or sport then the Leadership Academy could be for you!
To find out more visit our Leadership Academy webpage and join our Leadership Academy Facebook group to chat with our ambassadors and other volunteers.
Finally, today is the day to recognise the commitment of all our international volunteers. The contributions they have made are irreplaceable. Let us celebrate them. Let us celebrate you!
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