My Unicef on CAMPUS experience
Being part of the Unicef on CAMPUS society has so far been one of the most rewarding experiences of my first year, which I would like to share with you in a few words.
Out of the three different Unicef projects that I could get involved in at the beginning of the year, I chose to mostly dedicate my time to Schools Project. In this one, the members were split into five groups, each of them approaching a different topic concerning issues that are highly problematic in today’s global dynamics: Malnutrition; Refugee Crisis; Climate change; Water; Gender inequality & Child Marriage. As I am very much interested in how gender stereotypes influence societal evolution and I was as well disturbed by the phenomenon of child marriage, I chose the last group. Ironically, but purely unintentional, in our “gender inequality” group, there were only girls – 10, to be more precise.
In term one, we all built up a presentation on the chosen topic which in term two was going to be held in primary schools around the area. The challenging part was thus to make it as interactive as possible so as to keep the children engaged throughout the whole hour. What would they like? How can we make them understand the issues? What kind of activities would appeal to them? We finally got an answer on this Monday, the 26 of February, when the presentation day had come.
We couldn’t predict the outcome of our sessions as we couldn’t anticipate the children’s reaction and prior existing knowledge on the topics. So, when I started the presentation with a little role play saying: “When I grow up I want to be a fireman”, I naively thought the kids may say that this job is more suitable for boys. To my surprise and joy, when I asked who thinks I can actually become a fireman, all the hands went up. I was prepared with a speech in which to outline the importance of pursuing your dreams regardless of the existing gender stereotypes, but my initial discourse turned into congratulating their attitude and encouraging them to keep thinking in the same manner in gender-related issues. I was therefore silently criticizing myself for underestimating their social awareness level, but, in the same time, I was extremely satisfied with how engaged, opinionated and curious they were. I am more than convinced that with such kids, the future can’t be anything but bright and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.
On the 17 of November, if you saw a lot of people in the Fusion Bar, well, it was us, the Unicef members. Starting with that evening, in the solidarity with all the people affected by the Hurricanes Maria and Irma, we spend 24 hours with no food. Prior to this day and until the next evening, the members were fundraising for the same cause, and, when the fasting was over, we could proudly announce that £6.832,53 were raised for the victims and the damages produced by the hurricanes. For me, fasting was a way of reflecting upon all the possibilities that I have, here – as a student who only worries about deadlines, waking up in the morning, and “what should I cook today?”, at home – as mom and dad’s little girl and everywhere else where I feel safe and comfortable. What I have learnt from this experience was to cherish and no take for granted any day, any meal, any opportunity that I have.
As much as it was about the projects, Unicef was also about the members. If five months ago, I was just a member in the society and the others were just…other members, now, some of them are becoming my friends. It’s a big word to say, but this is both the effect of enjoying participation in the projects and the cause that creates the sense of belonging in the society. It’s extremely pleasant when people ask you “How do you know each other?” and you can say “We do Unicef together.”/ “She’s my friend, we’ve met in Unicef.”/ “My friend from Unicef is coming too.”/ “I’m going out with some friends from Unicef.”/
So, through this post, I took a step back to the past five months and recalled all the beautiful moments I’ve lived through this society that I DEFINITELY encourage you to join as well.