We sat down with Yalin Chen, a 2nd year BSc Economics student and one of the 2022-23 Volunteering Officers, to chat about her volunteering experience with Team Up as part of the November 2022 Social Hackathon.

Which Hackathon event did you take part in?

I participated in the Team Up Social Hackathon. It was a remote online event on Wednesday 9th November. It was a very new experience for me because I had never actually done a Social Hackathon before. But everyone was so welcoming and so friendly, and I feel like the Student Union really provided a lot of support for the whole day.

What did you do on the day?

Our question was about how we could make learning resources for secondary school students more inclusive and more inspiring for young people. Basically, Team Up is an organisation that trains tutors, usually university students, to tutor secondary school students. They go into schools and deliver English or maths school programs.

They just want to improve their English and maths program to make it more inclusive, and I think that is a very nice initiative that they are doing. It was a great experience for me to learn more about the different kind of things that we could make learning resources more inclusive. I learnt a lot from the different volunteers and also the charity members from Team Up.

What did you enjoy the most about the experience?

I really enjoyed every aspect, but what I really enjoyed the most was the networking session at the end of the Social Hackathon, because we actually got a chance to talk to members from the Team Up charity. They talked to us about why they went into the education sector and why they are doing this service. It really inspired me. Some of them used to be teachers but they decided to go to the third sector because they thought it made a lot of difference, and they could see it each time they went to schools and saw kids’ smiling faces. It was very rewarding for them.

I also really enjoyed researching the different kind of things that we could include to make learning resources more inclusive. We were looking up some inspiring role models, like Mohammad Ali, the boxer, and thought that he would be a great inspiring figure to students. Especially since at school they might not be exposed to many diverse role models. It really made me reflect on my secondary school life, and that I perhaps wasn’t very aware of the diversity of role models that there are. I feel like we’re actually making a change. Hopefully after the Social Hackathon this will be reflected in more learning resources, and make a bigger difference to younger generations in the future.

Were there any challenges you encountered on the day?

Actually, I thought it all went very smoothly. Because for me it was online and remote, I was just doing it from my bedroom. I was a bit worried that there might be some issues with zoom calls or google drive, like accessing the documents online, but there weren’t any technical issues. Also, when we went to break out rooms and stuff, I still talked to the other students and team members, and they were all very nice and friendly. I still felt connected even though it was online.

I still felt connected even though it was online.

Would you recommend the hackathons to others?

Definitely! Especially because it’s during reading week, and it’s only one day of your whole reading week. It’s a very fun thing to do if you’re not doing anything, or if you don’t have any plans for reading week. You can make new friends, socialise, and make a small difference to the wider community. And I feel like it’s a great opportunity to network as well. For me, there was a networking session and we got to know a lot more people in the industry. I feel like that will be really inspiring to a lot of people who want to actually go into the sector and work with schools, teachers, or being a teacher.

Thank you to Yalin for sharing her experience! If you are interested in Team Up you can learn more about them here. If you are interested in joining them as a volunteer, check out their English or Maths Tutor role!

If you would like to learn more about Yalin's work as a Volunteering Officer, take a look at our interview with the 22-23 Volunteering Officers!