I just thought I would post a brief post about university life thus far, namely focusing on the fab opportunity that was the Freshers’ Fair at my university. This event is always a personal highlight as I love the atmosphere – the entire SU is abuzz with conversations, colour and interested, animated students. The vast array of student organisations and societies which are present at QUB never fails to both amaze and impress me. There is something magical in the fact that groups of students can come together to discuss their shared interests and bond over a group spirit, whether in sporting activities, politics, debating or charitable causes.
I was – and always am – excited to attend Freshers’ Fair over the two days it runs. I also feel privileged in the sense that for the past two years of my degree I have been asked to help organise and plan stalls, and have also fronted stalls. I particularly enjoy engaging with the attendees of the Fair, including talking to students and disseminating information about the organisation I am representing. I really enjoy being able to provide information and answer questions; knowing that you have been able to provide assistance always results in feeling a special feeling of contentment.
This year at the Freshers’ Fair, I was representing the QUB student society branch of the wonderful Derry-based charity, Children in Crossfire. This is the charitable organisation which I am a Committee member and Executive Secretary for (having been appointed to post during the summer). The charity essentially aims to improve the welfare and well-being of children, through working within communities and organisations already present within those communities. The charity was founded by Richard Moore, and has its roots in a story which is both tragic, but inspirational too.
When he was just ten years old, Richard Moore was blinded by a rubber bullet fired at point-blank range. However, he has never allowed feelings of bitterness or hopelessness to stunt his development, from childhood right through to today, saying that due to this incident, he has come to see life in a different way. He decided that from adversity, there comes hope, and so over a decade ago he decided to use his experience and personal understanding of trauma, and put it at the service of humanity, particularly children around the world who have been caught in the crossfire of poverty. Henceforth Children in Crossfire serves children and their families by providing education, service and rights-recognition. Basically, the charity aims to give children the right to choose, by providing healthcare, education and community support in order to allow children to develop and grow, and thus recognition their potential – and their dreams.
We aim to ensure the rights of children are protected by supporting organisations to train professional people like teachers, doctors, lawyers, and police; the media and local communities on child rights.
Thus on the first Thursday in October, the Committee Chair and I myself set about arriving at the SU for half past eight to find our stall, decorate the table, set up our presentational stand and prepare to engage with the students.
So I found myself at eight o’clock in the morning in a cold library printing off photographs and rushing about the SU shop, so that I could track down Blu-Tack. I must have struck quite the comical pose, with my backpack of law books and notes (I had two seminars that afternoon) and a bag full of printed photographs and also two boxes of chocolates. (After all, as everyone who has ever had to market to students knows, students like free products, and they like food.)
Once the stall was decorated, we had to contend with technological difficulties in the form of my friend’s laptop seemingly refusing to connect with the SU’s wifi. This meant we could not access our pre-prepared excel sign-up sheet via Google Docs. Fortunately, I had thought to ensure that we had contingency plans for the day, and so we executed Plan B – which happened to be myself pulling out a fileblock, a Sharpie pen to quickly design a ‘sign-up’ sign for the table, and a stash of spare pens. So, phew. Panic averted.
From nine o’clock to half-past eleven I fronted the stall, and as expected it was an enjoyable occasion. We had a lot of interested students dander (see: NI vernacular meaning ‘stroll’) over to our table to find out more about the charity, the QUB societal branch and how they could get involved. We spoke at length about the charity, its background and also its ongoing projects in Tanzania and Ethiopia. Our efforts paid off, as we had many sign up for our emailing-list and express their interest in wanting to become involved and help with fundraising events.
I was also tasked with using social media to promote our presence at the Fair, and to encourage students to ‘like’ our Facebook page. I had perhaps rather too much fun with sourcing relevant, amusing gifs to use, but also perhaps with my photograph choices! (See the above Neanderthal pose.) I am pleased to report that we had high traffic on our page, and managed to gain new ‘likes’ for both our statuses and actual page.
Essentially, I had a lovely day. It may have been tiring to have to be on campus early and run around with preparation and organisational tasks, not to mention constantly feeling like a Del Boy when I approached students. But it was a rewarding and enjoyable experience – assisting with the Freshers’ Fair always is!
I would like to end this post with a gentle nudge of encouragement to all students: please, please do consider getting involved on campus and in student organisations. It is such a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and make new friends through shared interests and group objectives. Yes, you will learn and improve upon key skills, you will perhaps be awarded with roles of responsibility, and be challenged with paperwork, deadlines and group/time management. You will have something to add to your CV, and discuss in interviews. But most importantly, you will have a great time doing something you love with similarly minded people. It really is the proverbial cherry on top of the cake during your university career.
So, go on. Get involved on campus. You will not regret it, I can assure you.