Volunteering – Creating UWE Linguistics Society

Contributor: Tom

Which Society?  UWE Linguistics Society

Why did you start the society? I tell people who I want to impress that I set it up because I passionately wanted to spread the good word of linguistics and increase student participation in extra-curricular academic events.

In reality I read this language log post about Edinburgh’s own LangSoc and thought “oh that’d be so cool if we had a society like that at UWE” and got a bit depressed that UWE didn’t have a linguistics society. A few days later I remembered that I was a lazy student who had loads of time to set up a society. I asked some students if they thought a linguistics society should exist, got some friends together to form a committee, a month later we were a proper official society!

What was your position? I was elected as president. To start with this meant I was responsible for nearly every aspect of running a society, but it got a lot easier as the committee grew.

Good things: We had some fantastic lectures and we went on some really fun trips. And I got to work with some brilliant mates and made even more brilliant mates too.

Also, because I ran a linguistic society, I was contacted by David Arnold, a student of the University of Edinburgh, who invited the society to the first Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain conference … but that’s another very long story… (click the link to find out!)

Bad things: People kept expecting me to be some kind of linguistics whizz-kid – which was a pity because I’m actually quite stupid. They’d be all like “Tom, you run the linguistics society, do you remember all the rules on Sanskrit morphology” and I’d be all like “no!” then they’d be all like “what about a brief history of marxism in linguistics” and I’d be like “how would I know that?!” then they’d say “oh but you’re the president of the linguistics society, surely you’d know” and then I would have to run away and hide in shame.

Also running a society (*cough* especially a twice-award-winning society *cough*) takes a lot of time – so you need to ensure you stay organised and not let it take over your life!

Anything else: If you’re at university studying linguistics and there isn’t a linguistics/language society near you, set one up! Make sure you’ve got some good people who are just as enthusiastic as you are to work with, and you’re good to go.

And if there is a society near you, get involved in any way that you can – it’s a great way to meet people and have fun, all while pretending you’re only doing it to beef up your CV.

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Voluntary Position – Peer Guide for the School of English Language and Linguistics – Bangor University

Contributor: Callum

What? Peer Guide for the School of English Language and Linguistics at Bangor University; 2010 – 2012.

Why did you choose this place? My Peer Guide when I was but a mere Fresher did an excellent job of helping me settle during my first ever week at Bangor. By this token, I felt a motivation to return the favour as it were, and wanted to give back so applied to become a Peer Guide.

How did you find the application process? For what I was required to do it was a pretty standard set of affairs, a basic application form with a required reference too. That was not too hard to get together; after all the “Peer Guiding Scheme” and academic schools are just wanting some competent, helpful people to be Peer Guides; so they wouldn’t make the application process too daunting. Additionally being part of a smaller school, we only usually get twenty or so wanting to be Peer Guides anyway, this is usually about the right number for the amount of Freshers we get (approximately sixty to eighty).

What do you do here? The principal focus orientates around “Freshers’ Week” (or Welcome Week as it’s also known), that time when, as a lot of you will have done, landed at your University and needed some guidance to assist with getting around, and otherwise settling in. Through a lot of planning, our school provides a week of events to help welcome and integrate new students to Bangor, this includes from quizzes, trips around the area as well as the occasional trip to the pub. You get the idea I’m sure, like most Freshers’ Weeks at University the aim is fun with a side of reassurance, however this system allows for students to be well acquainted with their course mates, as well as having someone look out for them, before their first year has truly begun. Of course, the work does not stop the minute Freshers Week ends, it is important to keep in contact with the new students during the year, I, for example, usually invite my Freshers out for a few drinks at the end of their first year of study, then once again a few months later, just to catch up, and check they’re in good stead.

The good things: For me, this is all down to the relationships formed between, firstly, working with the Peer Guides as a unit. A team which have a goal to create a successful Freshers’ Week for all involved, and that in itself is a rewarding prospect. I should make mention here that I came up with a ‘mentoring’ scheme
within the Peer Guides, that is to say the ‘senior’ Peer Guides are paired with a ‘junior’ Peer Guide. The idea of this is that, in some way like with the Peer Guide/Fresher relationship, the ‘junior/senior’ Peer Guide relationship allows new to learn from experienced. Of course, this is a two way thing, new Peer Guides
may themselves bring new ideas to the front which are always welcome, and these can initially be discussed with their senior Peer Guide, before being brought
up in meetings, as an example. I must of course make mention of the Freshers themselves, as this is what the scheme is here for! It is actually a very pleasing experience to aid your Freshers through their life at University, helping them settle in, and everything in between.

The bad things: I won’t go into anything specific here, all I’ll say is you’re working with people, so that’s going to be the main source of anything going wrong. All I’ll say is make sure everyone on the Peer Guide side of things, everyone has planned things out and you should generally be ok. Otherwise, Freshers’ Week can be a little tiresome with a lot of running around involved, but this is what you signed up to, so you can’t really complain. And at the end of the day the positives out-weigh the negatives with this sort of things.

Anything else we should know: If your University does not have a Peer Guiding scheme and you feel it would improve Freshers’ Week, bring it up with your respective school/University and make some inquiries! I have found it a fantastic two years’ worth of experience, working with both Freshers and Peer Guides that will certainly be high up on my written CV!

Volunteering – Creating ‘ELL Soc’ (University of Kent)

Contributor: Robyn

Which Society? ELL Soc – University of Kent

Why did you start the society? After being course rep (English Language and Linguistics) for two years, myself and a friend decided to set up a society to make contacting students much easier, and to create a social group alongside the course, and to bring together others who were interested in linguistics. We also saw that other universities had linguistic societies, and thought it was something worth getting involved in. We came up with ‘ELL SOC’ (English Language and Linguistic Society). After lots of form filling and a few months later, ELL SOC became ratified, and we recruited a committee.

What was your position?I became treasurer, which required me to organize finances for the year and persuade people to part with £3 membership!

The good thing about setting up and being involved with the society are that you get the chance to meet people who you wouldn’t have met otherwise, through socials and events. The bad things about it, are the formality and forms that can’t be avoided when setting up any society. Being involved with societies is a great way to meet new people, especially ones who have the same interests as you .

Volunteering – Secretary – UWE Linguistic Society

Contributor: Antonia
Which Society? UWE Linguistics Society
Why did you get involved? I got involved because the position of secretary was free and I felt like I could have some fun taking on this opportunity and also get some experience. And I was right about that 🙂
What was your position? Secretary
What are your duties? Mostly COMMUNICATION – Inbox – sorting out what is (not) relevant for us (lots of spam); ensuring smooth communication among all committee members and also the Society’s members; organizing meetings – booking the rooms etc. – and the AGM; putting together all the documents for the SU
What has been your greatest achievement? The AGM was quite hard to organize… afterwards all the documents had to be filled out correctly and sent back to the SU in about a week’s time – so I am glad it all went well and we were able to elect a new committee for the next academic year 🙂
The good things: Being a member of the committee gave me so much experience! It gave me lots of insight into how the SU works and how it co-operates with the university itself. Also I had to opportunity to see how to run a student-organizes conference, invite your members to a trip and organize it. It taught me a big deal of tolerance towards others!
The bad things: When you are busy with your uni work and you are supposed to fulfil your secretary duties at the same time, it can be a bit stressful… Also my job is to make sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do – and on time – so basically I have to hassle people about deadlines etc. which is not a very nice thing to do…
Anything else you’d like to say?: I am really grateful that other members voted for me so that I can make a most of this! If I was just a regular member, I could never get so much insight into how the British student union is run…  I will take all that experience and memories back with me to the Czech Republic and I think I will try to make people more involved there and create something similar as what we’ve had in Bristol 🙂