A week as Caernarfon Poppies Volunteers

img_0101By Megan & Dani

A week of volunteering as a Poppy Ambassadors at Caernarfon Castle was a brilliant choice for us as it appeared to offer a range of opportunities, not only in allowing us to gain experience that will aid us in the world of work, but also facilitated us in completing a part of our gold Duke of Edinburgh award.

Conversing with such a diverse group of volunteers has provided us with a real insight into what the installation evokes within each individual; whether it acts as an artistic muse or as a commemorative exhibition (especially poignant with regards to the centenary of the First World War).

We first read about the poppies’ move to Caernarfon in our local newspaper and this sounded like something both of us would be motivated to get involved with, especially as we are both currently studying A-Level history and are considering taking this to degree level.  We believe that it is important for people of all ages to be involved with history and to remember and reflect upon our past, as well as learn from it – particularly in lieu of recent world events such as the American presidential election and the Syrian refugee crisis.

A highlight of our volunteering has most definitely been a guided tour of the exhibition with a group of blind veterans as The Last Post was played.

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Fflur’s work experience

By Fflur Jones

I volunteered with WCIA for a week and half in July, hoping to learn more about charities and organisations working in the field of international relations and politics. I was not disappointed. Even though I was only in the office for 4 days, I was given a varied range of activities from posting on the WCIA’s social media to evaluating ChangeMakers packs for teachers. I was introduced to the concept of the charity’s “voice”, the one which I had to write Facebook and Twitter posts with, and shown how to collate data the Wales for Peace team had collected during various events.

These activities enabled me to understand the goal of the charity and the means through which they achieve it. Indeed, it was gratifying to be of some use and to contribute to the team’s work instead of being a spare part lying around. It was also interesting to work in conjunction with other projects and charities sharing the corridor and to meet new people from all sorts of backgrounds.

I was also extremely fortunate to be able to attend the National Eisteddfod with the Wales for Peace and Hub Africa projects. These trips not only provided a break from the office work but also introduced me to the direct relations the charity has with the public. Working to introduce others to the projects in such a unique festival-like atmosphere proved challenging, but we quickly figured that drawing for children brought in the parents! The whole team was very welcoming and made me feel very much at home both in the office and in the Eisteddfod tent. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my time there and by how quickly the time flew. When I first contacted them I was just hoping for something to talk about on my personal statement, I walk away with a whole package of new skills and an insight into the field I hope to work in.

Find out about volunteering at the WCIA at http://www.wcia.org.uk/volunteer

Volunteering helps Shoruk find peace

By Catherine Bony

On Wednesday evenings Shoruk can be found patrolling the streets of Riverside neighbourhood, clad in a tailor-made police uniform. If you take a closer look at her, you will see that a scarf frames her seventeen year old smiling face under the regular police helmet. If needed she can undertake first aid, or in any case, assist her senior colleagues.

She has been volunteering for a year in the police force and for a few years in other organisations. She loves it. “I feel peaceful when I do volunteering work”, she explains to the group of international volunteers who are listening to her testimony. She is not only committed to ensure that people’s safety and peace is maintained but she is also involved in raising money for the charity ‘Human Appeal’, which is a girls orphanage in Palestine. She has pledged to gather at least £10,000 for the charity.

The striking element of Shoruk’s story is the contrast between her engagement to promote peace and welfare to the Welsh people whilst a war is currently raging in her home country, Libya. She had left her home country seven years ago with her large family. They stayed in several different places: Czech Republic, Tunisia and America before eventually ending up in England. It was here that her brilliant father could pursue his PHD studies in electrical engineering.

So far, they have been denied the asylum that they have applied for, however, there is no doubt that they fully deserve recognition and will obtain it. Meanwhile, Shoruk remains as committed as ever but admits that she has not settled down entirely, for her heart still beats fast for her homeland!

This blog was written as part of a UNA Exchange / Wales for Peace project: A group of international volunteers from across Europe spent two weeks volunteering with a group of women  from Women Connect First based in Riverside, Cardiff. As they volunteered together, they shared peace stories.  

Volunteering with the WCIA

By Megan Griffiths

Volunteering with the WCIA over the past few months and this last week has been an invaluable experience as I have been able to pick up and learn many new skills. I volunteered for half a day every week for the past few months, finishing with a week-long placement after my exams. Undertaking just a half day each week may seem, to some, a short time that isn’t really worth it. I’d say the opposite because I’ve been able to pick up different skills and learn new things in a short space of time gradually over the weeks, but also, I’ve found it so refreshing to get out of the all-consuming ‘uni bubble’ for a couple of hours a week and meet and work alongside different people. [And realistically, if not volunteering, I would probably have ending up spending my Wednesday mornings at home in my pyjamas, vowing to start revising tomorrow.] During my full week placement, I’ve had more time to carry out and complete more extensive tasks.

I’ve found the whole experience rewarding because I have actually been able to undertake relevant, interesting tasks, as opposed to being resigned to photocopying and making tea. My roles have been really varied: researching heritage, writing blog posts, communications through Facebook and email and website optimisation to name a few. I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed working on the website and the different programs, such as optimising the website to make it more accessible for search engines to pick up. Before starting, I would have told you that I’m not a techy person in the slightest but I feel completely at home adding to and updating the website and basic html code now. The same goes for using social media. I’ve enjoyed looking at how social media can be used to connect with people and provide a link between the public and the WCIA. Finding the right balance of WCIA news and interesting content related to international issues relevant to the organisations ethos that I could share on the Facebook page was particularly enjoyable. It has also been interesting to go through the branding and communications guidelines as I have never had to work within a specific set of rules to enhance the look of the website and how an organisation communicates with its audience through the tone and voice that you use. Volunteering has given me an insight into how organisations really work behind the scenes, so to speak, as well as the chance to learn skills I wouldn’t have necessarily been exposed to through my degree alone.

Day 1 – Work experience with the WCIA

Today was a fantastic start to my week’s work experience at the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. After experiencing a tour through the impressive Temple of Peace and Health and an informative induction process, I began my work.

I started with learning about the charity, their work, and the other organisations they’re involved with. I found it interesting to learn about what they had done to promote global issues to all members of the Welsh public through events such as Model United Nations, a lecture on the situation in Syria and having Desmond Tutu to visit! I understood further the goals of the WCIA and how the charity is structured. I believe that their goal of getting the Welsh public involved in and knowledgeable of global issues is really important.

I was able to understand further the roles of CEWC, the UNA, the international development hub and the organisations based in the ‘international wing,’ such as ‘Size of Wales’ and ‘African Mother’s Foundation’ to name a few. I found their work really interesting too and enjoyed exploring their websites and talking to their staff about the work they carry out. Despite a few of the members being away, I got to know everyone working here immediately, and they all seem very helpful!

I then had a go at promoting a few issues myself. Having time to explore the internet, I was able to interact with the social media side of the organisation and come up with 10 posts to be put up on Facebook and Twitter to promote important issues in a simple and accessible way. This helped me to further understand the issues for myself as well. Looking at a range of different topics from Iraq to Fair Trade to Malala Yousafzai, I have been able to widen my knowledge (and hopefully the knowledge of others) on a huge variety of issues.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the week immensely!

by Alicia Cooke