Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

How I learned to stop worrying and enjoy volunteering

De Montfort University had a momentous week of Cultural Exchanges Festival 2019. We have seen, heard and read all about it: from Baroda Exhibition to Will Self and his talk on psychopathology, from Dr. Mark Griffiths’ technological addictions to Arts in Prison. Yet little is said about the people behind the festival.

No doubt students of Arts and Festival Management have done an outstanding job at organising events and making them run smoothly despite train delays, technical issues and the mysteries of disappearing pens/microphones/tickets. However, some other people got involved in this as well.

You may have seen us at the front desk of Clephan, behind hospitality tables at Vijay Patel and Hugh Aston, by the lecture theatres dealing with box office and guest lists, standing on the stairs between the floors directing people to events, drinks, bathrooms and exits. All dressed in black, smiling and ready to help – we were the student volunteers.

Honesty is my disgusting personal trait – I was as scared to go volunteering as people were scared of atomic bombs during the Cold War. The thought of messing up key details, directing people wrongly or just not being good enough was stressed me to the point where I nearly gave up volunteering in the very last second before my first shift.

But as I came into the festival head office and saw stressed-out event managers and all the work they put into organising, I knew I could not let them down. It's important to be there for these people, not just for your CV or self-confidence. Being a part of the festival at its very core, making connections with other volunteers, easing the tensions of head office, making jokes and bringing joy to people – every little helps. Being a volunteer awakes the warmth of one’s soul.

And if you have missed an opportunity this year, there are still festivals to come and people to give help to.

Maryia Lall

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