Being a volunteer at the Cultural Exchanges Festival 2019 was one of the best experiences of my life. The festival had an amazing atmosphere, hosting scholars and cultural artists each of whom had their own story to tell. I heard Kenneth Morrison talk about war hotels; Kassia St Clair on how fabric changed history; John Young's sound installation based on World War 1 recordings; the award-winning writer Nikesh Shukla and finally South Asian dancer and LGBTQ activist Shiva Raichandani.
Each day I was assigned a different task. I worked on the box office (checking people in), setting up the room for the speaker, ensuring things like water bottles were provided, giving out questionnaires and pens, etc. The tasks may sound quite dull but the excitement from the audience and the team itself made it worth all the effort.
The team consisted of several 3rd year students who organised the festival as part of their degree course (Arts and Festival Management). Then there was the volunteering team which had a fair few undergraduate students (I think we were a group of 20, more or less) who had the pleasure to work alongside them, as well as having the opportunity to meet some of the amazing artists too.
It was an experience which will not be forgotten. #CulturalExchangesFestival2019Volunteer
E J Manso Henriques