Today’s blog post comes courtesy of Adelah Bilal, Administrative Assistant in the King’s Experience team here at Careers & Employability, who along with a couple of students is here to introduce the King’s Experience London Award….
With King’s being based in the heart of London, it’s only logical that we have a King’s Experience London Award; an award to recognise and credit the great work that students are doing in London and for the London community.
The diverse student population here means that we have some students who were born and raised in London, and other students who have previously lived in other parts of the UK, the EU or different continents – this award is open for all of you.
You’ll be able to read about three previous recipients of the award, and their experiences of working with communities in London. They all have different backgrounds and experiences, but what unites them is their journey connecting with London.
Niamh Doody- ‘Giving Back: My Experience of Volunteering in London at the Evelina Children’s Hospital’
Niamh’s reflection on her time working at the Evelina Children’s Hospital takes us on a beautiful journey of self-discovery, empathy and professional development.
One of the ways in which the London Award can be achieved is by volunteering in an industry or sector that you would like to work in. Niamh aspires to be a Clinical Psychologist, and working at the Evelina allowed her to improve her professional prospects whilst simultaneously benefiting by caring for others:
‘I hope what has become evident is my deep commitment and drive to stick to my mantra of devoting myself to the care of others. Volunteering is a beautiful opportunity to give back to those less fortunate than ourselves.’
Niamh tells us how she learnt to sign in Makaton (a universal form of sign language for children). This clearly evidences the gaining of new communication skills; however, Niamh also points out the personal value of these skills:
‘Being able to say hello to the patient and ask her how she was meant so much to her, and her parents in particular. In that moment I felt so proud of myself, and the sense of reward from both that instance and others have remained with me right up to this moment. Since then, I have added some more signs to my repertoire, and hope that they will aid my future communication with other patients I meet along my journey.’
Cristina Brinceanu– The Long Journey Home: An expat’s experience as a civil servant assisting Romanian Communities in Greater London
Cristina’s reflection begins by helping us to understand what life can be like for children whose parents’ expatriate themselves due to economic hardship in their country of origin. She goes on to mention the sacrifices her parents made, and how this stimulated a desire for her to honour their struggle by creating a successful career for herself.
After completing her undergraduate degree, Cristina applied for an internship with the Romanian Embassy in London ‘in an attempt to bridge the gap between here and home.’ She also wanted to ensure that she could serve the Romanian expat community in London. Cristina told us that she felt a need to know that every expat that passed through her office ‘received the support needed in order to make the long journey home more bearable.’ Cristina demonstrates empathy with the Romanian London community, and this intuitively drives her to improve her professional skills to better assist them.
‘I believe I was rewarded with a broader understanding of social issues pressing Romanian expats in London, and I was made aware of the privilege of being able to influence a life through action and service above self.
I also believe that my experiences have not only helped me relate to my parents’ struggles but have also enhanced my team’s ability to better understand and undertake our daily workload and transform it into acts of kindness, not only acts of duty.’
Amy Barber: Primary School Volunteering
Amy Barber completed an in-depth reflection about her time tutoring primary school students in Maths. What is fascinating is how Amy uses her experiences at the school to better understand English education policy and the effects that national changes can have on teachers, local education charities and students. Here’s a snippet of Amy’s extended critical reflection:
‘Mostly, I have thought about how much policy discussion is directed to secondary schooling. In some ways this makes sense: the qualifications students get at that ages are the ones which determine their potential future careers. The changes in GCSE grading (with grades 1-9 now) didn’t directly affect my tutoring programme, however, the impact on the charity was clear. Seeing the amount of preparation staff at Action put into changing their teaching materials and explaining the new system to tutors demonstrates the impact of policy change. This practical perspective has changed my view of public policy. The impact of the change itself must be considered in addition to which policy is marginally better.
However, this focus is to the detriment of primary schooling, which I have seen can be far more important in determining which students are able to thrive in secondary school.’
Amy’s thoughts about policy in relation to her experience working in a primary school demonstrates her ability to recognise social issues affecting London communities. Furthermore, her critical reflection on the effects of public policy illustrate political awareness and an understanding of complex social issues.
Anyone reading Amy’s work will immediately recognise how this experience has developed a wonderful personal attribute: a greater sense of civic and community-mindedness.
If you have done activities engaging with the London community that amount to at least 25hours in the past year, you are eligible to apply to the King’s Experience London Award.