NTU staff mentors wanted on international volunteering programmes
Could you become a NTU staff mentor and accompany students on international volunteering programmes?
The Community Engagement and Volunteering team, part of the Centre for Student and Community Engagement (CenSCE) leads the NTU Certificate in International Volunteering for current undergraduate (not on a placement year) and postgraduate students. The module gives students the opportunity to volunteer alongside an ethical, not-for-profit organisation working to combat poverty, disadvantage or environmental issues. The opportunity enables the students to develop skills, gain wider global citizenship experiences and share their skills with people in one of 5 different countries - Guatemala, Romania, Uganda, Greece and Fiji.
We are looking for NTU staff to act as Team Mentors to the students on the international volunteering programme. This role is an important part of the support we give to both NTU students, and the international charities with which we work. The role encompasses a variety of activities in the run up to the international project, including working one-on-one with students to identify motivations, and set clearly defined goals, as well as supporting and encouraging the students in their fundraising efforts. The role also includes accompanying the students for the first week of their international volunteering experience to provide pastoral care, maintain oversight of health and wellbeing and ensure the project is successful from the student and charity’s perspective. You will continue to give this support from back in the UK if the project is more than one week in length. The staff member accompanying students to our project in Guatemala will stay for the full two week project.
There is a lot of work required in the run up to departure; you can expect this to be approximately 1-2 hours per week, although it is important to note some points of the cycle will be significantly busier than others.
Staff Mentors work closely with the Community Engagement and Volunteering Co-ordinator (Global) throughout the year, and will be involved in all aspects of the programme. The role can be an incredibly rewarding experience, with lots of opportunities for skills development, but can also be a very challenging one.
How to apply
Team Mentors are selected for this role following an application process, and are able to utilise the Staff Volunteering policy for the time they spend away with the students. For the lead up to the trip, any time spent supporting the students will be classed as volunteering in your own time.
Please be aware there are only six of these opportunities available each year, due to the small number of programmes we run.
Go to https://ntusurvey.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ntu-certificate-in-international-volunteering-register to request a role description and application pack, and more information about the IV programmes.
If you are interested you will need to have your line manager's authorisation to take part, submit an application form and attend an interview, as well as some training during office hours.
The deadline for applications is Monday 2 December 2019 with interviews the following week and in-house training in early January. Successful candidates will be expected to attend a student volunteer selection day on Saturday 18 January 2020.
My experience as a mentor
“In previous years I’ve always dismissed the international volunteering staff mentor role as something ‘I couldn’t possibly do’. But following an injury, extended period of time off work and a say-yes-to-everything attitude, I was drawn to the Uganda project and decided to just give it a go.
"From the assessment day and student selection, to supporting group and individual fundraising, from answering student questions and easing their concerns to facilitating new relationships, before we even arrived on the project, I felt I’d overcome and achieved such a lot.
"As initial momentum of securing the role was gradually replaced with nerves, I worked hard to keep the purpose of the trip, and the students’ experience at the forefront of my approach.
"I am really proud of my group of student volunteers; with East African Playgrounds we delivered a playground for a school which had been on the waiting list for four and a half years, and which had 1000 pupils desperate for somewhere to play. And having spent a considerable amount of time in playgrounds myself (my son is nine), I thought that this would be the highlight; and it was undeniably great. But what I am most proud of is my group. My role at NTU has moved away from working directly with students over the last couple of years, but I have loved that interaction again. I facilitated connections between students from different backgrounds, on different courses, who live on different campuses and with a range of goals and challenges. They are students who may not have met otherwise, and I can confidently say that their university experience is a more valuable one for the diverse relationships they have developed. They are brave, kind, supportive, positive, good-humoured and endlessly patient.
"My group bonded over shared fundraising targets, long flights, digging 132 holes, friendship bracelets, blisters, card games, bucket showers, paper chains, mosquito nets, the Nile and the most delicious fruit breaks. It was hard work, we were all physically tired, but we had a great time. We celebrated each other’s wins and looked after each other in quieter moments. And I feel quite emotional, and priviledged that I was part of all of that.
"From a personal perspective, the shifts in momentum I experienced at different stages taught me a lot. I went through excitement, nerves, apprehension, pride, self-doubt, among other things, and on reflection, I understand a little more about myself because of them. Ultimately, what I will take away from this experience is a little more self-confidence, and the sense of achievement I feel, for pushing myself out of my comfort zone (and we all know that they say nothing good ever happens there!), and for my part in each of the students’ individual and collective experience. And the fact that I can acknowledge that.
"I’m really happy to chat to anyone interested in the role in the future!”
Lucy Adams (CenSCE)
Staff Mentor, Uganda