Maryam Alhayki

LLB Law 2024
Talking about
Volunteering with the local community

I volunteered to take part in the Intercultural Ambassadors Programme at the University of Leeds. The project I chose to work on was Intercultural Activities for Older People. 

The role allocated to me was logistics and budgets, which required me to organise the team’s schedule, order materials, and coordinate the budget. I was also the leader of the team which meant that I had to chair meetings, send out meeting agendas, and coordinate the team to complete the project forms.

For our project, we planned to have a painting and planting activity for older people. Before the event, we had to complete a project plan, an event brief, a materials list, and a risk assessment to ensure that our event ran smoothly.

Reasons to volunteer

As I am taking a Law degree, confidence is essential. I wanted to find a position that allowed me to gain confidence in public speaking, expand my knowledge in relation to my degree, and come out of my comfort zone. 

I have a shy personality and I always feel anxious to try something new, but through volunteer work I can overcome the personal challenges of leaving my comfort zone, and do something new with people I don’t know. 

Volunteering provides me with a sense of purpose. I can become part of something greater than myself through volunteering. It also allows me to connect to the community and make it a better place. 

Maryam Alhayki

Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. Volunteering is a two-way street: It's an opportunity to connect with others who share your same interests and learn from those who are more experienced. 

Combining strengths and experiences

Working as an Intercultural Ambassador was one of the most rewarding and instructive experiences of my university career. It gave me the chance to make new friends from all around the world, share my culture with others, and learn more about diverse cultures.

What I loved the most was developing a project with a remarkably diverse team. We learnt how to combine our strengths and experiences to deliver a successful project. We built a friendly and inclusive atmosphere where we were able to share our opinions and ideas confidently, no matter how divergent these were.

The best experiences are seeing the results of your work.

Maryam Alhayki

Many of the participants didn’t know anything about my culture, but they were so happy and excited to learn more about it and share their cultures and experiences with me too. This experience has impacted me in the best way possible.

Challenges and solutions

Communication has been a bit of a challenge. We were communicating on Teams, WhatsApp, and Email which made the process difficult. Some of the messages got lost because we didn’t know where they were sent. Thinking and planning every minute of the event was also challenging, but it made everything more organised. It is during these times you must use your initiative and problem-solving skills to plan carefully to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible.

Before our big project, we had a little crafts event to create crowns for people to wear during the project, and we only expected eight people to show up, but more than 20 people showed up. We struggled to fit them all in one little room, but the crowns created at that event were worth the struggle. 

The most rewarding thing about volunteering is getting to see different people come together, try something new, and have fun.

Advice for future volunteers

“Volunteering is at the very core of being a human. No one has made it through life without someone else’s help.” – Heather French Henry.

Volunteering is more than spending your time actively participating in selfless acts or activities that benefit other people. It has a greater impact on society as a whole. You will have the opportunity to develop transferrable skills through volunteering such as time management, leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

The guidance I received throughout the project was amazing.

Maryam Alhayki

As a Law student, working within a role that requires me to communicate with different people was extremely helpful. The whole team was supportive and always there to help when you have any issues or concerns. It was quite easy to contact them, and support was always provided. My mentor has been flexible when it came to meetings, and she happily gave us time off during exam/assessment week.

I would recommend volunteering within the Intercultural Ambassadors Programme for anyone wanting to try something new and looking to make new friends. This role provides a new challenge that can be extremely rewarding and allows you to expand on and learn new useful skills.

More information about volunteering

Read more student profiles about volunteering
Find out more about volunteering opportunities as a student at Leeds