A Leeds young person’s International Service journey
Volunteering is a fantastic way to make the link between your academic results and the world of work.
The government-funded International Citizen Service aims to make international volunteering opportunities available to any young person in the UK, whatever your background.
So from Lofthouse to Wetherby, Pudsey to Kippax,, whether you’ve got an NVQ or a degree, if you’re 18-25 and want to do something different, transform your career options and have an incredible experience…ICS is designed for people like you.
Otley’s Rhiann Mirchandani-Cooper signed up, and a few months later was placed with International Service, a development charity with over 60 years’ experience, in the world’s highest capital city…La Paz, Bolivia.
“My brother forced me to apply for ICS; he told me that I should not miss out on this incredible opportunity. I am very glad I listened to him.
“I just thought it would be a really good opportunity, for myself, to help people and to learn new skills. And now I am now sat in a cyber café on the other side of the world, building skills and enjoying the experience with a group of people who already feel like family.
We’re all in the same boat, so we support each other
“We work in a team of volunteers, both from the UK and Bolivia. ICS isn’t just for one type of person, or super-confident people who’ve travelled everywhere and speak lots of languages. We are all just normal people. Some work in pubs, some are at uni; we’re all from different backgrounds.
“And because a lot of us have never been away from home before, we’re all in the same boat and we support each other. We have a great bond…you have to because you spend all your time together – that’s why we genuinely feel like family.
“We’re working on a project called Zebras. Our main focus is reducing noise pollution in La Paz but we’re supporting all types of people.
“International Service takes a rights-based approach, so we’re not here to do things on behalf of other people. Instead we work with groups of vulnerable people, like people making a living shining shoes on the street, to understand their human rights and use them to gain the power to change their lives. They might lack education, knowledge, be able to get a job or access healthcare or – as is often the case with women, people with disabilities or people who’ve never had a formal education – because other people in their communities don’t value them or let them play a full role in life.
ICS will test you and 100% make you more employable
“I already wanted to work in international development, so the project really spoke to me and this has really spurred me on, but whatever you want to do, ICS will, 100%, make you more employable. Each day is something different. You get involved in a little bit of everything, so you can find out what you enjoy doing. I’ve got communications skills, experience working in and building a team, you’ll become more independent, assertive and use your initiative as well as work and live with other cultures.
“If you have something like this on your cv, it shows employers you have the drive to do something for yourself.
“My advice to any young people in Leeds about ICS?
“The experience is great. It has been testing at times. You have to be realistic and take it in your stride. You have to be prepared for some disappointment and frustration, but it is all worth the reward when you do achieve something.”
If you’re 18-25 years old and a UK citizen, find out more about ICS and apply through International Service. http://www.internationalservice.org.uk/work_with_us/index.html