I met the lovely Wong U Sin who studies biomedical sciences, and Hei Chan, who studies pharmacology at UCL to speak about their roles as Project Leaders for the Student-Led Project 'Extracurricular Day Project'.

We thought global warming would be the most relevant topic and it is the most debated topic in our daily lives.

Which project do you lead? Tell us a little about it

Wong: We are leading the Extracurricular Volunteering Day project and basically you spend one day in the school, and we created activities for them to play with, and this time our topic was global warming, so the games were around global warming.

In Hei: We picked the topic of global warming because when we applied for this project the outline brief was that the partner organisation wanted the kids to learn more about geography and science. So, we thought that global warming would be the most relevant topic and it is the most debated topic in our daily lives. I also think the kids are so young and teachers would not typically teach this topic in school. 

Tell us about your Project Leader role

In Hei: We basically had to plan the event, decide what games to introduce and recruit the volunteers to help us and have contact with the school.

Why did you want to become a Project Leader?

Wong: For me, it is a great opportunity to learn how to organise events, make new friends and learn how to deal with different situations and problems.

In Hei: For me, being an international student, I wanted to try a different atmosphere in a school like how teachers in the UK teach their pupils in a classroom setting.

What difference do you feel you’ve made by leading your project?

Wong: I think the difference I felt was that we made a good connection with the partner organisation, and I gained experience on how to lead different people.

I think for us it was the first time in the UK and we made connections with different kinds of people

What impact has volunteering, and leading a project had on you?

Wong: I think being a leader has given me more motivation and confidence on how to handle different situations better. I also get to know better about how to apply resources, how to use the budget and how to claim expenses. Some volunteers working in education taught us on how to best engage the kids. So, it has helped me a lot.

In Hei: Yes, I agree with her!

How has your network developed whilst being a Project Leader?

In Hei: I think for us it was the first time in the UK and we made connections with different kinds of people. For instance, some are the locals, some were students, the partner organisation, and our project supervisor. So, it was so great to connect with international people around the world and learn about their culture and thoughts

What was the biggest challenge you encountered? How did you overcome this challenge?

In Hei: We have faced a lot of difficulties and I think the most difficult one would be recruiting volunteers and for like three week no one applied for the roles - so we found that very difficult. But luckily, we found some volunteers.

Wong: Also the time limit was short and the volunteer we were recruiting had to apply for DBS checks and this was the biggest difficulty. However, our Project Supervisor was good and then we also contacted the Institute of Education (IOE) to recruit the volunteers and we finally got a group together!

Tell us something memorable that’s happened to you whilst being a Project Leader?

In Hei: I think the most memorable thing was the kids were really cute! I haven’t seen such a big group of kids in a classroom that are so active! In my home country the kids just normally sit there and just answer the questions, always having the model answer. So I was really surprised by their open minds! The interaction we had with the kids were just so memorable!

Wong: This was my most memorable thing as well, the kids were super clever and just very well behaved! They were well behaved and gave different answers to our topic about global warming.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about being a Project Leader?

Wong: I think for people who wanted to apply to be a Project Leader, they should have a sense of responsibility, as they have to cope with different problems and people. For me, my advice would be to not give up easily and always seek help. For example, you can always ask for advice from your project supervisor.

In Hei: I think time management needs to be good, because I started my role early in the year but our volunteering was held in March. There was a lot of pressure to get set up in time but that was because of bad time management.

Want to start your own Student-led Volunteering Project? Find out more and share your ideas with us here!