by Shara Teague
Whilst checking out the PR course at Leeds Beckett, I also perused what the student life would be like living in Leeds and what added extras the university had to offer. One of the things that immediately stood out to me was the International volunteering opportunities in various beautiful locations such as Fiji, Thailand, Peru and of course Sri Lanka. I did not hesitate in finding out all there was to know about the different trips and patiently waiting for the chance to apply!
It was always something I wanted to do and I anticipate more trips around the world in the future once university is over. I thought International volunteering with the university would be a great place to start, a safe and organised trip as well as making a heap of new friends (which I truly have).
We spent three weeks, two of these volunteering with Aspirations Education Foundation; a charity in which works to help children receive a substantial education in the poorest areas of Sri Lanka. Some of their objectives are; to support local teachers in rural areas, provide I.T equipment- computers and software for children to learn basic IT skills and support the infrastructure of current schools with safe play areas, safe water facilities/sanitation and implement agricultural cultivation projects where the foundation plant various fruit plants to then sell the produce which helps to support the day to day running of schools and the local community. The charity was ran by a great, caring and welcoming team of people that gave us wonderful hospitality, accompanying us on the trip and showing us the beautiful sights of Sri Lanka.
I came to realise how incredibly lucky me and fellow students were to have access to education so readily and how we easily take this for granted. Most of the children I met had to trek miles to school every day in the exasperating heat, with only one school uniform, book and pencil. Groups of at least 50 children per class with one teacher. However every child was extremely enthusiastic, welcoming and expressed a great happiness, yet having so little. Some of the activities we ran were based on teaching English, sports development and first aid- where we donated a first aid kid to every school visited.
Within this video are some added pictures of the places we traveled in our free week after volunteering. Places such as Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Arugam Bay and Unawatuna. I most definitely recommend the latter three, the most breathtaking, delightful locations.
This is an aspect of my student life so far and something I will never forget! If anyone gets the opportunity to volunteer and especially with Leeds Beckett, I would grab it with both hands!
For more information:
Aspirations Education website: http://aspirations.edu.lk/foundation/
Leeds Beckett website: https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/cpv/projects/