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Khansa is a member of our Student Voices, a group of blind and partially sighted students and recent graduates who share their experiences to help shape and support the work of Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Education team. To celebrate Student Volunteering Week, Khansa, who is a current student at the University of Oxford, shares her story with us to highlight the many benefits of volunteering whilst studying.
This is her story.
My volunteering journey began when I was in secondary school. It is when I noticed a lot of things around me that I wanted to change. I recognised I could do something to benefit my community whilst also learning from those around me. I was a very curious child and had an insatiable thirst to know more about people, things and accepted ideas.
The only way to satisfy this thirst to know more was a deeper engagement with the community and the ideas around me. My first volunteering experience was with a non-government organisation (NGO) that supports underprivileged children in education. Since then, volunteering has been an integral element of my schedule.
I am currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Development Studies at the University of Oxford. I wanted to understand the links between global and local processes of change. The discipline of development studies combines various subjects including anthropology, economics, history and politics to explore concepts and practices around managed and unmanaged change.
At the heart of change are community interactions, those everyday conversations and actions that we have with one another. Therefore, all of us contribute to the development of our community in some shape or form.
Volunteering for me is that active effort to make sure that my interactions are meaningful, sustainable and impactful for my learning and the communities that I am a part of.
I began volunteering with Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) in September of 2022. This experience has given me the opportunity to learn about and become a part of policy change and awareness campaigns. These two components work together to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities are protected and improved.
Through this experience, I have met a wonderful community of politically engaged disabled people who are actively working to dispel the barriers they face on an everyday level. Working with the TPT team is not merely about campaigning for disability rights but about finding a community of like-minded people where one can find solidarity, mentorship and a sense of belonging.
Volunteering has been a useful way to develop my skills because I have had the opportunity to present to both large and small audiences alike, for example when I spoke about my experiences of using assistive technology for a webinar TPT hosted for students. I also had the opportunity to virtually speak at TPT’s annual volunteering conference where I shared how important it is to listen to the voices of young blind and partially sighted people.
Through volunteering, I have also improved my multitasking skills. I have learnt to manage my university work, part-time job, volunteering responsibilities and social obligations. Not only that, I have learnt to effectively work with a diverse group of co-workers with distinct perspectives and contrasting working styles. Some of the best connections and opportunities I have gained were a consequence of my volunteer work.
Volunteering has truly transformed my outlook on community engagement. I now realise that we can always do something to promote the causes we feel passionately about and help those who encounter the same obstacles as us. You can contribute whatever resources and passion you have to volunteering. I can guarantee you, it will make a difference in your life and your community.
If you’d like to find out more about Student Voices and the fantastic work they do, visit our Student Voices and Young Voices homepage!