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Chemistry students volunteer in Kenyan communities

3 September 2018

Chemistry students volunteering in Kenya

Four chemistry students volunteered their time in Kenya this summer to teach English in Nairobi schools.

William Osborne, Eloise Lewis, Mirela Johnson and Alice Sturgess-Webb spent three weeks living and working in Nairobi communities as part of the Agape Volunteers teaching programme, a charity project which aims to contribute to underdeveloped communities in a sustainable way.

The trip was made possible by the Ron Anderson Global Opportunity Scholarship, set up by Cardiff alumnus Mr Ron Anderson (BSc 1969).

As well as developing their own teaching skills, our students were able to boost the children’s learning of English in underfunded and under-staffed schools.

Mirela told us some more about her time spent teaching. “I worked with grades 1 and 2 with Will. These two grades made up one small class of around 12 pupils, so we got to know all the children.

“Will and I mostly helped by teaching lessons of English, Science and even Social Studies, which we didn't really know much about but we were always there to help each other with ideas on how to make ourselves clear.”

Aside from regular teaching, Eloise also got stuck in to helping the children exercise their creativity.

“It was great to be able to teach some arts and crafts during free periods, which gave the children something new and exciting to do and to take home or decorate the class with.”

When they weren’t volunteering in local schools, the students had the opportunity to explore Nairobi and other parts of Kenya. Eloise particularly enjoyed the diversity of experiences: “We did loads of different things from going on a bike ride around 'Hell's Gate' and gorge walking, to visiting Kibera which is the largest slum in Kenya. One of my favourite experiences was going on safari in the Maasai Mara and seeing so many wild animals undisturbed by humans, living peacefully in the Savanah.”

Volunteering opportunities like this one give our students a great insight into the diverse career paths available to chemistry graduates, as well as encouraging global knowledge sharing and understanding between different cultures.

Mirela’s time in Kenya has helped shape her future plans: “I think after doing this programme, I'll probably be more inclined to work for a charity if possible after I graduate. I really liked how the staff at Agape enjoyed their jobs so much it didn't even seem like they were working, and I think I'd get the same satisfaction if I worked for a company whose values I believed in.”

Eloise was also inspired by her three weeks in Kenya: “I definitely plan to return as much as possible in the future to see some of these finished projects and work on the new ones and make this an ongoing, lifelong project for myself after university.”

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