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Student Life at WGU: Volunteering While Studying.

With the end of my third year at university on the horizon, I’ve found myself becoming nostalgic. Although being a student felt more like a full time job with no pay, it was also one of the best and most enlightening experiences of my life. I discovered a lot about myself.

One of the many things my university experience taught me is that I actually love and enjoy helping others. For me, it is all about kindness. And if I could turn sharing kindness into a full time job, I would.

Back in my first year, I found myself working in a factory. It wasn’t the perfect job, no. But at the time, I was struggling to find a job.

I hated everything about this job. It came to a point where I needed something – anything - to boost my mood a little bit. Back then, the Jungle in Calais, the huge refugee camp, was still around. Because France is my home country and helping other is, I believe, one of the best way to help ourselves; I started on planning a trip down there. I would visit one of my friend for a few days, and then go there. I wanted to volunteer.

Since I was also working part-time in a hanger factory full of people, I thought it might not be a bad idea to ask around for some donations. Anything really: old clothes, shoes, etc.

Naturally, I had to ask my boss for permission and I was amazed by her enthusiasm. Some of the boxes of clothes from the factory would normally be sold in the staff shop to raise money for charity. She suggested that I take some of these boxes for the refugees in the Jungle. 

Originally I thought I would collect enough donations for two suitcases but I collected so much that I needed to find someone to help transport all the boxes to Calais.

And I found them. It was a charity based in North West England seeking to help refugees at home and abroad, called MerseyAid. The refugee camp closed a month later before I had a chance to get there - but the clothes went.

Because MerseyAid helped me, I decided I would help them. I started volunteering some hours, and helping them from home as much as I could. I was sending letters to schools for them asking for donations.

What volunteering did for me was also way more than I expected. I had found my mood booster. It decreased my stress levels - university can be a bit stressful at times. It gave me a sense of community.

Feeling as if I were actually using my time for something good, I started having a look around Wrexham. Where could I volunteer some more hours around here? Wrexham is full of recourses if you like volunteering. First, there is AVOW, an organisation that connects voluntary and community organisations across Wrexham. Then, there are a lot of charity shops around town where you can donate a few hours.

Volunteering means choosing to work without getting paid (a bit like university). It’s about spending your time on issues you feel strong about. Refugees was an issues I was felt concerned about. So I volunteered with charities trying to help them.

Also, hello career booster! Volunteering will always look good on your CV. So if you would like to do something meaningful with your time, you should try volunteering. Give something back, try something new, and have fun!

About the author

Ophélie Lawson

Ophélie Lawson

Ophélie Lawson is a 23-year-old broadcasting, journalism and media communications student at Wrexham Glyndŵr University. Born in France and raised in Paris, Ophélie enjoys low cost travel and her dream is to make documentaries.