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Post Exam Stress Trauma


Congratulations! You made it. You survived. You can finally say that exams are over. Depending on your personal revision style, the months, weeks or days of revising have come to an end. But what happens now? It is likely that you could experience some form of ‘Post Exam Stress Trauma’, and I’d like to offer […]

The F Word


OED Definition of Feminism:

Pronunciation: /ˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m

Noun

[Mass Noun]

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

A simple enough concept. So why is there still a problem?

It goes without saying that women have been, and continue to be the victims of a patriarchal society, oppressed and restrained throughout the world to varying degrees. This is an unfair and unacceptable status quo and something that needs to change. For this reason feminism is one of the most important movements that exists today, directly affecting half of the world’s population; so why is the concept so misconstrued?

Recently, in conversation with a friend, the question was asked as to whether she considered herself a feminist. She replied that she didn’t, as she likes men and didn’t see the point in burning her bra. It’s important to acknowledge here that this conversation took place at the university, exemplifying that she was a woman that had made the choice to further her education and seek a career. Doing so, ultimately as a result of early “bra burning” feminists. Clearly however, there was a lack of awareness concerning the correlation between the two. It’s disconcerting to think that a woman in a position such as hers is uneducated in the movement that has the most power to aid her in her career aspirations.

Feminism is inherently a good cause and to question it would be absurd. However, there is sadly a stigma that remains attached to the movement, that is encouraged by a misconception of what it stands for. A woman that hates men is not a feminist, she is sexist. Feminism is the fight for the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, not a campaign for female superiority over men. It is through thinking otherwise that the argument and the work of past feminists is undermined, turning it into an extreme and isolated movement. It is through thinking otherwise, that men are given the opportunity to trivialise feminism and other women are discouraged from considering themselves a feminist. There is a line between FemLove and ManHate.

Not all feminists hate men, and not all men seek to oppress women. It is such generalisations and stereotypes that create inaccurate representations, causing misunderstanding and a closed-minded perception of the world. The problem lies not in the opinions that people hold, but their unwillingness to see anything to the contrary.

People are people. Gender is one facet of an individual and to marginalise them because of it is prejudice comparable to racism or homophobia. It should not define the potential of a person. As a society we should learn to look beyond all of these descriptors and see people as more than how they appear before us. Feminism should seek equality between men and women, as the civil rights movement sought racial equality, and it should not become a forum for hatred or the belittling of the opposing gender.

Author: Hannah Partridge, Jack Kilker, Corinna Taylor

Photograph: en.wikipedia.org

Stop Putin Up With It


In June of last year, Russia passed a law classed as child protection that banned propaganda of any non-traditional sexual relationships among minors. The fact they are still using terminology such as “non traditional” shows how outdated the opinions are that this law stems from. It serves to remind ourselves that homosexual relationships were presumably only decriminalised in 1993 so that Russia could join the European Council. The Russian Orthodox Church and strong Conservative Government encourage views that non-hetero relationships are seen as a decadence; it is people acting purely for pleasure, and against their natural role as reproducers (there is still a strong belief in Russia that women are made to be mothers). On top of this, it’s been suggested that around three quarters of Russians see homosexuality as an illness.

Because of this, it is dangerous for members of the LGBT community to reside in Russia. Consequently, the Government’s attempts to make LGBT athletes feel welcome have failed, with this being highlighted by the numerous arrests and assaults which have occurred since the opening of the Games. A video released by Human Rights Watch showing attacks on the LGBT community is evidence of just how serious the situation is. It’s not just denying the right to love anymore: it’s denying the right to exist.

Putin’s recent legislation is, unarguably, utterly deplorable. The Olympic Committee and important sponsors of the Winter Olympics, such as Coca Cola, should have worked to prevent the Games being held within such an openly prejudiced nation. However, as that has not been the case, we can now only work with the media and welfare organisations across the world to highlight all that is wrong with Russia’s policy, and also to look inwards at our own Governments. Reactions to the Olympics have instigated reactions from public figures and sportsmen across the West, with Gold Medalist Brian Boitano having come out as gay very recently owing to a feeling of solidarity with already openly gay athletes he was travelling alongside. He has been one of many to do so. Ideally, the international community could request that Putin retract the new legislation, or leave the European Council. However, this would only leave Russia further isolated and unchecked.

On a University campus level, many students have made moves to show their support of the LGBT community in a variety of ways so far. Cambridge University organised a same-sex kiss-in flash mob on the 11th of February, with flag- waving and dancing in solidarity with those in Russia. Agnes Cameron, LGBT officer, said: “I thought it might get a little awkward, but it was just lots of happy people kissing each other.”

At Oxford University, students of Brasenose College flew the rainbow flag out of their windows, protesting against the college’s refusal to allow them to fly a rainbow flag for LGBTQ History Month. It seems that for many universities, the increasingly violent acts of homophobia in Russia are inspiring students to fight homophobia at home.

Students at Royal Holloway have also been protesting and showing their support . A group of RHUL students protested outside the Russian Embassy on February 1st, with hundreds of other London students and delegates from NUS LGBT. The students made colourful signs, chanted and sung in front of the Russian Embassy, and even played sports at the side of the road in solidarity with LGBT athletes in Sochi.

Thankfully, people have still kept fighting against this, and I’m sure we will continue to do so. This is not a reality anyone should have to live with, and we cannot let our lives be governed by outdated and uneducated beliefs. We must make a change. As we look forward, we can only hope that significant progress is made and similar prejudices are not rasied if Russia is permitted to host the 2018 Fifa World Cup, which they have placed a bid upon.

In the meantime let’s hope that the colourful German Olympic uniform isn’t a coincidence.

Author: Imogen Treyman

Photograph: commons.wikipedia.org

NekVominations


A recent epidemic has left the nation wide-eyed and retching. With sales of Stella Artois, Soy Sauce and baby food at an all time high, biological laws have been challenged regarding how much curdled milk the body can really consume without vomiting. Sound bizarre? Not if you’re one of the unlucky few that has had a #NekNomination, the controversial online drinking challenge that has permeated Facebook.

On the day of writing this, I have seen eight such nominations on my Facebook Newsfeed. And admittedly, I have watched all of them. I can’t work out whether I find them hilarious or repulsive thus far, but I do know that there is a part of me that always hopes that the next one I watch is a little more gross than the last. Twisted I know, but such expectations are obviously acknowledged by those drinking the alcohol-based concoctions. How could they be ignored when their audience is potentially millions of people online? It is arguably this element of the drinking craze that makes NekNominations different from the games of Fuzzy Duck or Ring of Fire you play with friends. Facebook has provided the ultimate stage on which to be seen.

It has been reported that since the game has gathered momentum, three British males have tragically lost their lives trying to perform stunts that rival those online. In spite of this, NekNominations continue to be given, and people continue to accept them. Exact reasons as to why are not apparent, but what’s for sure is that the game is a chance for hundreds of your online ‘friends’ to see what a bantering hard-ass you really are. If this means downing a pint of Sambuca and gravy granules, so be it. At least you’ll be remembered for thirty seconds as the guy on Facebook with the sturdiest stomach in Surrey. Better that, than the guy that was cowered over the toilet for an hour afterwards.

While concerns have understandably been raised with regards to the drinking habits of a generation, I feel that the concept of NekNominations goes beyond this, and epitomises how obsessed we have become with our online image. Bizarre as it may seem, there is a novelty in the ability to consume a dirty pint with ease and style; so if we can share this online, why not? Surely we would want everyone else to see how brilliant we are too? Whether it’s choosing to show the NekNomination but not the aftermath, or untagging yourself from 40 out of 45 pictures from a night out, we are dictating how we want to be seen online. We choose the kind of life we want our Facebook friends to think we have. In an article for the university website, academic Victoria Mapplebeck from Royal Holloway, poised it as “a culture of narcissism” in which we have “become our own spin doctors”, and to be honest I don’t think she’s far off. With all of its ever-expanding utilities, Facebook has become one of the most powerful ways for people to be seen, consequentially amplifying peer pressure like never before. We feel obliged to share a selfie in the most insignificant of situations, take a picture of food before we can eat it, and hashtag incessantly in the hope that someone, anyone, will find you under #lookatmeinmyhotnewdress and gaze at you with lust and jealousy.

It’s easy to point the finger at Facebook if you’re looking for the bad guy. We’re the civilians, the underdogs, how can we ever have any control over these multi-billion dollar enterprises? But the thing is, we do. There’s no obligation to tell everyone what we had for breakfast this morning, who we’re spending our day with, or even that we can drink a dirty pint in thirty seconds flat. We choose to do these things because we feel we should, and that’s the point of peer pressure. The difference with Facebook is that if we wanted to, we could just turn it off. What’s stopping you?

Author: Hannah Partridge

Photograph: en.wikipedia.org

21st Century Rules For Dating


The mobile phone has come a long way since its creation in 1973, creeping in and taking over every aspect of our lives, especially how we now conduct relationships. For me, texting has changed how the modern day romance functions.

The use of telephones in relationships is not new. I remember my parents telling me how they racked up huge phone bills in the first few weeks of their relationship, spending hours every night on the phone, in Kent and Hampshire. However the difference between the early 90s and now is that back then, they were talking. They might not have had face-to-face contact but they could at least hear each other, whether they were excited, happy, or sad. And most importantly they received a reply straight away.
It has been suggested that young people these days are less patient; email, the internet, and mobile phones have created a culture where we expect everything to happen there and then: we are expected to be constantly glued to our phones. We no longer sit waiting for the postman to bring heartfelt letters from our sweetheart.

But here’s the big difference; I can go days between sending texts to my girl friends and family, but if it’s a guy I like, waiting for a text can be infuriating.
You have no idea whether the person is near their phone, or, if they have seen the message, why they haven’t replied. I admit it; many an hour I have spent watching my phone to see if I get a message from Him. And here’s the real root of the problem, if you are talking face-to-face or on the phone then asking another question seems alright – you are keeping the conversation going. But if you send another text how does that make you appear? Desperate? Needy? Obsessive? Impatient? Characteristics which you don’t want a future partner to see straight away, surely?

As a society we have shied away from physical conversation. It is easier to send a text or email rather than pick up the phone. I know people who are scared to order pizza over the phone.

Another issue that freaks people out when texting is the number of kisses to include. This guy I know has a system; the number of kisses depends on how close you are. Then there are other guys that I know, my housemates for example, who don’t do kisses; never have, never will. So what happens when someone breaks tradition and sends you a text with at least seven kisses: is it flirting, is he joking around or is he actually serious? There is a tendency in all of us to over analyse and question everything, making the process of dating both maddening and confusing.

Jane Austen thought dating was hard in the 18th century when there were so many rules to obey. Nowadays though, there is so much freedom that dating can follow so many different directions, yet there are still all these unwritten rules.

In the meantime I will be watching Pride and Prejudice waiting for my own Mr Darcy, with one eye on my phone waiting for that message.

Author: Victoria Timms

Photographs: http://www.flickr.com (Featured and Main image)

A Debate over Puppy Therapy at SURHUL.


Mental Health is Important, but Puppies aren’t the Answer. (Original Article)

Mental Health issues are a complicated, yet common thing within society and I’m glad to see the SU is responding to it through its Mental Health Awareness Week in January. They say mental health problems will affect 1 in 4 people, therefore any efforts to tackle the stigma around talking about such problems are very welcome. However, it is important we get our facts right about what helps and what doesn’t.

At the end of last term ‘Puppy Therapy’ was a hugely successful event at the SU, and why wouldn’t it be? Dogs are lovely, and one can’t help but feel for the ones at Battersea Dogs home who are without a family to love them. What I do take contention with, however, is the misleading link between this activity and its links to mental health.

For those who don’t know, Puppy Therapy began across the pond and has grown in prominence in UK universities recently. It’s important to acknowledge it as what it is though: a fad.

Though stroking animals may, according to some studies, lower one’s stress levels, such correlation is not substantial proof. Indeed, alternative therapies, such as Puppy Therapy, have long been criticised by the scientific literature as having only short-term placebo effects, and as being ineffective on the underlying causes of mental illnesses in the long-term. As such, we must not conflate this idea with it being an answer to mental illness, and we definitely should not call it a cure or a ‘therapy’. The fact is that mental health issues, such as depression, are both multifaceted and deeply personal and so in trying to combat them, therapies must take a multidimensional approach and be tailored to an individual. That is, one broad approach such as this, particularly one that has not undergone rigorous medical and psychological testing, is not likely to be ‘The Answer’ and to suggest otherwise is, frankly, misleading and dangerous. Most disconcertingly, there is a huge stigma about admitting you may be suffering from these illnesses to a doctor or loved one, therefore I worry branding this fad as therapy might offer a false hope to people. To those on the outside, it may also perpetuate the fallacy that stress is not a ‘real’ mental illness.

Again, I don’t want to be a kill-joy, and I have nothing against the idea of having animals around; I wouldn’t mind if there were regularly organised trips to Battersea so that people could give love to unloved pets. Hell, I might even pop by the next puppy session at the SU myself! The stress relief which an activity like Puppy Therapy can bring could never be considered a bad thing, and from the reaction the last session received, it was very popular and did help people to calm down for an hour or so during their end-of-term hysteria. However, I think we should be honest about what helps mental health problems in the long run, and be careful about what we brand as a type of therapy and what is simply a fun thing to do.

Puppies Can Get Us Talking (Response Article)

*Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide and mental health issues*

The student population is under more stress now than ever before. The student suicide rate has risen by 50% in the past five years and mental health issues affect one in four of the entire population. Counselling services across the country are being overwhelmed by stressed students, and we’re lucky to have an award winning service here at Royal Holloway. Stress and mental health are big issues before, during and after university.

Puppies were never going to solve this, but they were going to get us talking. They were going to draw the attention of people who had never thought of mental health or stress in this way before. By getting people together to talk about mental health, stress and coping, we begin to smash the stigma. Puppy therapy got students together to engage in a day-time non-alcoholic activity that was focused on the present moment. It was about taking the time to do something enjoyable.

Two hundred and sixty seven students came over two hours to the first test event, most of them I had never seen at a stress-busting activity before. Many of them were talking about pets back home, and coping with the differences of home life versus university life which can be a form of stress. We advertised Nightline, a student listening service throughout the event, and during Mental Health Awareness Week they will had a stand on the day that Battersea brought in their dogs.

As a Students’ Union, puppies are a very small portion of what we do around mental health and stress. In fact, the puppy campaign is the first time that we have had a welfare campaign around these issues that will run all year round. Mental Health Awareness Week and Sexual Health Awareness & Guidance (SHAG) week both happen once an academic year, with additional Stress Buster events throughout the third term. The Disabled Students Network meet regularly, and we have a fantastic Advice and Support Centre upstairs in the SU. This year we’re launching videos about mental health, as well as another online photo campaign with statistics and guest blogs with student experiences during the campaign week.

I agree with most of the criticisms noted, and welcome them. I brought in puppy therapy single-handedly; it was on my manifesto when I ran for the position of VP Education and Welfare. Nobody thought it was possible, although everyone liked the idea; and so I began from scratch. I would have loved some help, ideas and volunteers when creating this event, as well as with several others, and if you don’t like the way something is being done, then get involved and make your mark. One of the great things about Students’ Unions is that they belong to you – you decide how and where they run. Add your own twist, because good ideas become great ideas when more than one person works on them.

I wanted an SU that began conversations about the things I cared about, like mental health and stress, in an exciting and attention grabbing way. I love that the campaign I built is being criticised for not being big enough, because I agree, but it’s bigger and better than what was there before.

Which leaves me with a question for you all; it’s election season soon, what would you like to build?

Original Article: Frances Jones

Response Article: Sidonie Bertrand-Shelton

Photograph: commons.wikimedia.org (Featured);

Depression: Illness, not Weakness


*Trigger Warning: mentions of self harm*

Being a student is not always easy. Whilst the common perception of students is that they booze and sleep their way through their degrees, in reality, the workload can pile up and many students, especially those in their first year, can become lonely and homesick. For some students, however, it is not a case of feeling a bit down every now and again; the struggle with these negative emotions can become a part of everyday life.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was seventeen. In my case, this was mostly due to an unsettled upbringing and the death of two family members in only a few years. My problems had started at the age of 14, but I had been discouraged from seeking help by friends and family, passing my behaviour off as “being a teenager.” I was told that what I was suffering from was not an illness.

It was only when things became much worse – I was often tearful, slept badly and sometimes self-harmed – that I persuaded myself to visit my GP. Thankfully, she referred me to a psychotherapist and when I left to start my undergraduate degree at Birmingham, I was put in touch with their Mental Health Service and started a course of antidepressants. I do still struggle with depression, but I feel the help I received has put me on the road to recovery, and I have learned more about how to cope with and manage my symptoms.

Unfortunately, my experience will sound familiar to many students. One in four of the British population will suffer from a mental health issue in any one year and students make up a large proportion of cases. In July, ‘The Huffington Post’ reported that the number of students seeking help for mental health issues at some of the UK’s top universities has more than doubled over the last year.

Not everyone who suffers from mental health problems will seek help. There is still a stigma around mental health issues: although the wellbeing of physical health is greatly encouraged, not enough attention is paid to looking after mental health. Furthermore, many people seem to think that those who suffer from conditions such as depression are weak and just need to pull themselves together. For those who live with the condition, though, it is anything but a case of being able to ‘be happy’ or ‘just get on with things’.

Depression can develop for all sorts of reasons, can interfere with all aspects of life, and is not something that should be ignored. Symptoms can also vary from person to person, but may include:

· Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness or despair

· Decreased/increased appetite

· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or low self-esteem

· Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

· Irritability

· Losing interest in activities you normally enjoy

· Thoughts of death or suicide

If you are suffering from any of these or think you might have depression or another form of mental illness, get help. Talking to your GP is a good place to start; your meeting will be totally confidential and they will be able to point you in the direction of medication, talking therapies or support groups. If you feel you can talk to your friends, you may also find the exercise of talking through things itself helps.

Ignore people who try and belittle mental health issues; ultimately, it is you who is living with the condition, so put your own needs first and don’t worry about other people’s opinions on the subject. The first step towards getting help is the most difficult, but once it has been taken, the process becomes a lot easier and most people do eventually recover from conditions such as depression.

This country is still very much in need of a shake-up regarding mental health education, but until then, sadly, we will still have to deal with stigmatisation and discrimination surrounding mental health issues. Depression is an illness, not a ‘weakness’. Don’t suffer in silence; help is at hand if you need it.

Article: Imogen Dalziel

Photograph: alone-depressed.tumblr.com

The Tories Must be Stopped from Re-writing History!


2014 marks the centenary of the start of World War One, a travesty that shook the world and claimed millions of lives. For many, it will be a year of mourning or reflection, though for some revisionist historians, being led by key Tory politicians, it is an opportunity to challenge what we remember altogether.

In October 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that his government would spend £55 million on commemorating this centenary year, comparing the ‘celebration’ he wants to lead to that of the Diamond Jubilee. Michael Gove too recently laid the gauntlet for this commemorative year by condemning ‘left wing myths’ about world war one, supposedly spread by programmes like ‘Blackadder’ and ‘left wing academics’. He states that those who fought in the war were actually ‘…conscious believers in king and country, committed to defending the western liberal order’ – something that has been blasted by academics since.

Gove is actually towing the line of several ‘revisionists’ like Margaret Macmillan who are trying to re-write our recollection of the war, theorising that deaths were a necessary sacrifice, and justifying Britain’s role through a prism of good empires and bad empires.

The reason the right-wing so desperately want to challenge our perception of this war is because they would love nothing more than to have people think that those who fought wanted to, as they shared a sense of patriotism. This offers the government the chance to say that anyone who criticises the reasons for going to war can be lambasted for their lack of patriotism.

Only a few months ago the Tory leadership were chomping on the bit to go to war in Syria – an effort that we can see from hindsight would have been futile, and a further waste of life. Warmongers like this don’t want us to heed the lessons of the past – they want us to glorify the war dead, but not challenge why they died at all.

World War One was not a war about civil liberty or fighting the scorn of fascism – like the war that succeeded it in 1939 – it was a war between the big global powers of a growing imperialist world. It was a tragedy where at least 10 million people were slaughtered, often being led blindly into battle. Here, the notion of ‘Lions led by Donkeys’ springs to mind.

Remembrance has been somewhat of a controversial subject in the last two years of the student movement. When it comes to remembrance, we should not just stop at simply remembering the fact people died – we must remember why they died, be absolutely critical of this and fight for peace in the future. After The Great War, students across the world began an annual meeting in France; they believed that as the next generation of people, they had an obligation not to repeat the mistakes of the past, and to ensure nothing as horrible as World War One ever happened again. The student movement was built on the notion that we should we fight for a better world, a more humane society and do all we can to stop the unnecessary loss of life through war. This fight is more than worth having, so let’s spend 2014 discussing war, but let’s not let Cameron, Gove and co, turn the tide on what really happened.

Article: Jamie Green

Photograph: Ian Britton (featured); wikimedia (main).

ULU: Why its closure isn’t an option


The University of London has announced that its Student Union will close this year. This decision was not put to a student vote; no student was even on the review panel which confirmed the closure. This represents an undemocratic attack on student unionism by University management.

Of course it’s important that Universities have their own individual unions, but as part of the collective of London Universities, we need a student-lead institution that encompasses all of the involved universities. The University of London Union (ULU) is important in student fights to maintain rent prices around London, and involved in the maintenance of Senate House Library, as well as other London University services. ULU also allows input from all London Universities, not just the most renowned ones. Being so far from central London, RHUL students in particular need a way to communicate with other London Universities over important issues.

In the last ULU elections, over 3000 people voted for positions, only a fraction of the 120,000 people who study with the Univ. of London. The fact that the majority does not vote does not remove the right to vote of the minority: the solution to low turnout is to work to increase participation, not to disband the organisation altogether. The votes of 3000 are more representative of popular opinion than the opinions of a board of managers.

Even if some of the ULU services are maintained without the Union, they will be done in such a way as to exclude the students of the University of London from having an input, as we do at our individual unions. These services will continue for the ease of their practitioners, not according to student needs.

It cannot be denied that ULU has been flawed as an institution, and generally doesn’t attract the attention of many students, but in the last year there has been an increased interest in the Union and improvements have begun to occur. Where it falls short, we should be working to improve it. Instead, the planned closure will destroy it altogether.

Article: Tom Harris

Photography: studentaccommodationforsale.com

Volunteering: What you ought to know and what you should be asking


You awaken in your basic room, the sound of cockerels, voices you don’t understand and the dust stirring outside your open window as the light and the heat from the sun already surpasses any summer day back home. You slip on your khakis/harem pants, pull your patterned head scarf onto your ruggedly tousled hair and most importantly your array of ethnic-y beaded bracelets. You head off in your pack, laughing, chatting of the day to come and generally looking very cool and adventurous. The smiles you are met with every day seem to allude to the fact that what you’re doing feels pretty worthwhile, an amazing experience, great on the CV…

Sound familiar?

To countless students and young people, this will surely stir memories from that unforgettable volunteering trip they did in -insert name of third world developing country here-. The “Voluntourism” industry as it’s called is growing at a rather whirlwind rate as these kinds of trips appear increasingly appealing to young people. Has this whole venture of volunteering abroad become nothing more than a trendy commodity amongst students and young people?

In The Globe’s article Are Overseas Volunteer Trips Worth It?, Craig and Marc Kielburger comment that on these trips ‘the “work” can range from bottle-feeding baby elephants by day and partying by night, to back-breaking labor and living in intensive home-stays exactly as the locals live’. Is it okay that our status as tourist and volunteer should merge when on these trips? Are there specifically ‘correct’ contexts for us to indulge in ‘touristy things’ and if so where do we draw the line exactly? Critics comment that dropping in to take photographs of orphaned children, who may have seen parents recently waste to death, reduces them to the status of lions and zebras on the veld.

All hardened ethics aside however the reality is most companies do offer excursions, a week safari for example, or other general touristy ‘stuff’ as part of the package, simply because this is what is most appealing to volunteers looking to go abroad. The actual volunteering work should make up the majority of the trip and should be organized in places where workers are needed beyond those who exist locally.

When finding a volunteering program, it is key to look past the adventurously glam pictures of attractive tanned teenagers posing with school children or orphans. With the abundance of ‘volunteering abroad’ companies on Google alone, it has become increasingly important to check a few things before committing to one company alone. For example: Asking how the work you will do will benefit the community after you leave – will it be sustainable?

Volunteering should be about what is needed and what will be sustainable, as the length of time most volunteers spend at their sights is fairly brief. If the company you are organizing your trip with lists a number of areas that they provide volunteer work in, for example teaching, manual labor, agriculture; don’t set on one. Having an open mind about what you may be required to do may mean some hard work and things you never imagined yourself doing. Unless you have specifically organized a certain type of work beforehand, being picky or disappointed at the work given to you only seems to justify that your motives for the trip are selfish and not rooted in a genuine desire to help out struggling communities.

Key features of the volunteering holiday should be:

1) A seemingly ethical volunteering company- one that promotes sustainable community development providing jobs that can’t simply be done by locals.

2) An open attitude and willingness to do whatever needs to be done. As volunteers on trips that can be as brief as two weeks, we need to acknowledge we are a small (yet significant) working part in a greater machine.

At its heart, volunteering should be about offering up one’s services, specifically time and skills, for free. A genuine desire to give our time and effort for free should remain our fundamental motive. Thoughts about ‘attractive’ CV’s and such should be disassociated and if you want a holiday full of ‘banter’ you should not look to struggling third world countries.

Article and Photography: Alice Hopkins