Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

Trolley Dash in Olympia

It was a happy day. One of the happiest day that I had. I’m talking about the Trolley Dash of course.

I used to love toys and my favourite would be my cooking set… Or Barbie… Or my Sylvanian set… 🙂 Ahh~! I just love them all! <3 Having said that, I on the other hand, cannot recall precisely when was the last time I actually played with them… Probably some time during my 8th grade or… even long before that. I still like them, trust me I do and that should be the exact reason why I was thrilled when I saw the SU offered an opportunity to collect toys!

OMG! Count me in! x)

Volunteering group 2014 at the Toy fair

QMUL Volunteering team at the Toy Fair – Barnardos Toy Trolley 2014

At the time, the opportunity was organised by Barnardos with the permission of the Toy fair in Kensington Olympia. Volunteers come in on the last day of the fair and for the last 30 minutes, would take a trolley (sponsored by Tesco) and collect as many toy donations as we could . Sorting out them afterwards, according to size, we would then load them on to truck after truck, sending them to disadvantaged children in need.
But for the whole process of sorting up until loading, we had some fun ourselves admiring the toys we loved. There was a huge giraffe I remembered, tiny shopping trolleys, countless cooking sets and so many dolls! Then there were construction toys, teddy bears, tiny figures, mobile phones, colourful fruit baskets and so much more than I can name. It was like a toy heaven!

Huge Giraffe on top a trolley full of toys!

Huge Giraffe on top a trolley full of toys!

The event took place on 23rd January 2014 and it actually was the first time I volunteered through QMSU Volunteering service. It was the start for a series of all the great opportunities I continued to get involved in later days. Now looking back it felt even greater :’)

Me pushing mini trolley, "nagging" for more toys

Me pushing mini trolley, “nagging” for more toys

January 2015, I looked forward so much to another memorable trip to the wonderful toy-land and my heart sank when days after days checking the website without seeing the opportunity pop up. What could I do if there was no event held altogether.

But I felt the worst when it came back in 2016 and I could not go. This time, organised by Kids Out.

QM Team at KidsOut Toy Trolley 2016 - Olympia

QMUL Team at Toy fair – KidsOut Toy Trolley 2016 – Kensington Olympia

The event crashed with my school schedule but I wanted to go so much that I was considering skipping class… Everyone who went told me the same thing – it was amazing! 🙂 I knew that, I knew that all along. And I’m glad that they had great fun volunteering at the Event as I did 2 years before.

There’s not much to say besides it’s a really really really really nice event that one should definitely consider going (if it doesn’t crash with your classes xD) Take it from me, and from those who were there.

London Marathon 2016- Time to Marshal!

Hi all, I hope revision is going well for you. I thought I’d share my experience of volunteering with QMSU Volunteering at the amazing London Marathon last week- one of my favourite annual events to volunteer or spectate at.

The London Marathon is 26.2 miles and runners pass sights including the National Maritime Museum and One Canada Square, finishing at Buckingham Palace. This year’s was the 36th London Marathon and the millionth participant ran the route too!

Sunday 24th April 2016- the runners’ big day!

It is barely 4°C at 9am when we set off along Mile 19 to choose our places to be stationed at!

It is barely 4°C at 9am when we set off along Mile 19 to choose our places to be stationed at!


At around 7:45am, we had a rundown of the event (pardon the pun) as we’d been briefed on our role as marshals at uni on Friday. At 9am, we walked around to Mile 19 and I chose to be at a crossing point with three other volunteers. With a pair of us on opposite sides of the road, in charge of the crossing, we started cheering on the elite women, followed by the Paralympic athletes and then the elite men. We were directing spectators when they needed assistance. Soon, the masses started approaching us and hundreds of spectators on our road alone, us marshals included, began encouraging thousands of runners!


One of the elite runners approaches our section

One of the elite runners approaches our section on The North Colonnade


The whole day was brilliant. Though my hands were hurting from continuous clapping, icy wind and occasional freezing sheets of rain, I continued applauding the runners- the reactions of some runners when they saw everyone, even if it was just you clapping and calling their name at times, was my fuel!! My voice was going too and the responses of some concerned spectators saying “oh no, you’re going to lose your voice” was heart-warming. Some spectators were even cheering me on for cheering, aha!!!


A marshal portrays just how cold it can be during the London Marathon!

Tried to portray just how cold it was! This expression unfortunately doesn’t look like one of a cold me but a cautious me, aha- it was very cold indeed!!! I used my backpack straps to hold onto my useful event guide and free my hands, ready to applaud.


The great majority of runners were strangers (I did cheer on a colleague, a YouTuber and a former teacher, though) but I still genuinely believe they are ALL CHAMPIONS for running the marathon! Mile 19 can be one of the most gruelling miles. One of my favourite received reactions was people actually speeding up or starting to run when we cheered for them. And my reaction to that? Well, I was thrilled each time and jumped up and down cheering even more excitedly for them as they sprinted past me yelling a “thank you” or smiling from ear to ear at me while I mirrored the smile or laughed!


A wonderful event to marshal- substantiated by my sore and freezing hands at the end of the day and my now-croaky voice in need of a rest!

A wonderful event to marshal- substantiated by my sore and freezing hands at the end of the day and my now-croaky voice in need of a rest!


Well done, one and all, what an accomplishment, what a feat (that one was intentional)!

Be proud of yourselves for completing the London Marathon! A huge congratulations to Eliud Kipchoge who smashed his 2015 course record and Wilson Kipsang’s 2014 course record, setting a new course record for the elite men and to Jemima Sumgong who overcame some horrible falls and even an inconsiderate intruder on the course to win the women’s elite race!


Fact: The first event I can ever remember volunteering at was the 2011 London Marathon. Yes, eesh, half a decade ago!! Thus, volunteering at this year’s marathon marked half a decade of volunteering for me (not at every Marathon event but volunteering in general- 5 years ago is when it all started in volunteering for me)!

Fact: The first event I can remember volunteering at was the 2011 London Marathon. Volunteering at this year’s marathon marked half a decade of volunteering for me (generally, not at every Marathon).

PASS with Flying Colours


I’ve been mentoring with SLLF PASS since I was in my second year and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done while at QM, so I thought I’d PASS on some information about the scheme.

PASS stands for ‘Peer Assisted Study Support’ (and as you’ve seen, facilitates some highly amusing wordplay) and involves trained second year students and above helping first years with questions about assignments, exams, their course or university life in general. We have weekly mentoring sessions which are usually themed around the topics being covered in first year classes at that time. The nature of the sessions varies from one department to another, as do attendance figures.

Some PASS schemes attract scores of students, regularly having 50+ mentees (STEM subjects tend to be very popular), whereas the figures are much lower for the humanities. For Film, we recently held a special ‘Production Skills’ session with a panel of 2nd year students who screened some short films they’d worked on and offered advice on filmmaking – this attracted about 15 students, which I think is the most we’ve ever had. Still, there are advantages to having smaller groups – we can establish a friendly atmosphere and have more time to focus on individual students’ questions.

I think PASS is useful for first years while they’re still adjusting to being at university – it provides a less daunting place for them to come with questions and concerns that they might not want to raise with their personal advisor. It’s reassuring for them to speak to second and third years who’ve survived first year and bought the t-shirt, and it’s also a lot of fun – once the hard work is out of the way, we usually just end up chatting about movies.

It’s not just the mentees who benefit, the mentors get a lot out of it too: the chance to meet new people, gain confidence, attend the annual PASS conference and certificate ceremony, etc. It’s also very gratifying to feel that you’ve been able to help someone; my fellow-mentor Ethan told me that ‘I’ve enjoyed PASS because it gave me an opportunity to help students do better than I did’.

You get more information on PASS here:

My penultimate year at QMUL Geography

From volunteering in North London to travelling in a helicopter in New Zealand, my penultimate year at Queen Mary has been exceptionally busy but nonetheless another great and exciting year.

I’ve travelled to the other side of the world, become the President of a volunteer group, achieved a Silver Green Impact Award, undertaken environmental audit training and even presented my dissertation project to prospective students. Just when I think there are no more things to be involved in, another springs up and at the end of my second year with the ‘what will I do next?’ question looming, this year has definitely provided me with countless options.

In March I travelled to New Zealand for a 10-day field trip around the South Island. The scenery was breathtaking and it was definitely a trip of a lifetime! We got to take a helicopter ride up to the Franz Josef Glacier which we walked across. We went on many walks through valleys, exploring the processes that shaped them and discussed how they might look in the future, which affirmed the knowledge we’d gained from lectures leading up to the trip. Skills developed on fieldtrips like this such as filling out field notebooks and documenting results outside of the lab have definitely prepared me for my dissertation.


Tasman Proglacial Lake, New Zealand


The obligatory task of measuring rocks for clast shape analysis (a must for any Geography student)

Since my first year I have been involved in the QMUL Canal Clean Up Volunteer group who are affiliated with Thames 21 who kindly provide equipment, training and most importantly extra pairs of hands on events! From simply volunteering at an event on campus got to know more about Thames 21, the work they do and the opportunities of leadership training. By undertaking the training, I am now the President of the group as well as an Event Support Team Member for Thames 21 outside of university. I recently helped lead an event in Edmonton, North London, where a buried river is being resurfaced to create a wetland. I’ve developed my team work skills, organisation capabilities and learnt to work to a schedule as on events you can be working with 20 or so people. These skills are going to be transferable into the workplace but primarily I really enjoy helping out and using what I learn at university to teach others the science and reasoning behind such projects like the one in Edmonton.

clean up

All the volunteers getting ready for a canal clean up!

green impact

The 2015 Green Impact Awards

In my first year, I also got involved with Green Impact which aims to make the university more sustainable and environmentally aware. Having achieved Bronze last year, my team has completed the Silver Award. Again, being organised, able to achieve on a deadline as well as working and communicating with a team are all skills I’ve gained from the experience here at QMUL, but still it’s being able to put what you study and understand into practice while working with like-minded people that I enjoy most about Green Impact. Through being a Green Impact Project Assistant, I was able to undertake an IEMA approved audit training. It was an insightful day where I got to see what other Green Impact Teams were doing as well as developing experience and skills that will set me in good stead after I graduate.

Now…to get ready for my final year… 🙂

QM Citizens Road Safety Campaign – #SaveMe

More than 400 people including QMUL students, staff, members of the public and community leaders from the Salvation Army, the local mosque, CitizensUK and other organisations are getting involved in the #SAVEME Campaign.

They all joined in solidarity in March to make a real change to road safety in the Mile End and surrounding area. Research, audits and interviews have been taking place with local residents and businesses to see what their concerns about road safety are. All their ideas have come together and have been taken to Transport for London (TfL) and Tower Hamlets Council in order to bring about change to our roads.

QMCitizens – a student-led organisation that work with local communities in the East End to tackle issues affecting their daily lives – will be working with Citizens UK to make sure the Council and TfL’s promises to improve road safety are followed through.

As a geographer, my involvement with Citizens UK and QMcitizens has allowed me to witness community cohesion as people from different backgrounds came together to strive for social change through political actions. Community organising was once something i had only learnt in a ‘Environment, nature and society’ module within a classroom but my involvement with QMcitizens has taken it into a wider context and in a real life situation with our  #SaveMe campaign. 

photo 5

Students showing their support from the front row

SAVEME banner

Queen Mary Students supporting the #SaveMe Campaign







In preparation for the campaign before the walk to Queen Mary


laying down flowers

Laying down flowers to show respect for those who have fallen from the poor road safety.

400 people turned up to show their support, the numbers speak for themselves.

Placards made by students

Students placard posters, with illustrations such as “Kill your speed” outside the Queen Mary campus

Speeches and stories being shared by students, staff, family members and leaders at the library square.

Patiently waiting

Laying flowers by Bancroft rd

To find out more, search #SaveMe on Twitter, check out this Facebook clip showing peaceful protest

And/or see this awareness video on YouTube

More and more volunteering!!!!

So, who went to the QM International Week?
If you missed it, you missed all the fooooooooddddd and the performanceeeee! And a chance to win £200 voucher! xD

I was there from start to end and I can tell you, it was brilliant! A must-go next year if you don’t know what I’m talking about! 🙂
It was also my opportunity to have a mini reunion with some (not all) crew members from Fresher Week last year. We “flew” to Sydney and back to “Paris” during the event! Here’s my proof.

The crew and the organisers

The crew and the organisers

It’s currently on my wall now!

Anyways, this week is the last of the 1st half of the 2nd semester 😛

We celebrated our Lunar New Year (or CNY some people say) this week as well. I had some friends over and we were preparing the food since like 8am on wednesday, since 5pm was midnight in our home country! I don’t think I will inset any demonstration now ’cause I’m actually quite hungry…

Thinking about celebrating New Year, it has now my 4th year doing it away from home. Everyone I talked to so far usually asked me if I missed home ever. I guess from time to time I do get a little blue but not that homesick. Once in a while, I do think of my grandma, and my cat, and all the street food that I can’t replicate no matter how hard I try 🙂 But it’s a good thing that my parents call me/video call me so often as well as taking turn to pay me a visit. Perhaps I should thank technology achievement? x)
Here’s a picture of my cat 🙂 He’s 11 years old now (time flies too fast!) but only like 4 months ago that I finally know his breed!

Nia's cat - Smooth

Nia’s cat – Smooth

I swear, you can never fine a more obedient cat that will stay that still for dress up! :3
Can you guess the breed? I didnt even think there’s a name since he looks like British short hair but all white… I would say he’s a white cat… but honestly, his breed is rare! Khao manee. Look it up, search to buy one, you would be surprise I got my Smooth for free!

Anyways, enough cat fever!
This week I also submitted my nomination form to run for the Mile End Volunteering Officer!
Ahead will be a long but fun route. My campaign gonna start soon! Wait for it! 🙂


I can’t believe I have finished half of my degree now!

I have to express it straight away ’cause it has been in my head for several days now!

It’s not like I’m feeling old or something but I guess my time at Queen Mary will be running out soon. I still haven’t explore/exprience everything there is to offer me here!

Recalling January 2014, on the 23rd was my first volunteering opportunity with QMSU Volunteer. It was the Barnardo’s toy trolley in Olympia London. Back then, I have only been with QM for like almost 4 months and started to gain interest in other activities rather than study and get to know my course mates.

Team QM Voluteer at the London Olympia

Team QM Voluteer at the London Olympia

The experience working with other like-minded peer from QM made me feel so warm and happy; and that was the scoring point in encouraging my commitment with other activities with the University.

On 13th April 2014, after joining several other volunteering opportunities, I got my chance to help out with the London Marathon 2014, which was like the biggest event I know of ever! The crew from the Uni was so big. There were more than 80 of us, all happy and excited!

Team QM @ London Marathon 2014

QMSU Volunteer team for London Marathon 2014

It was one of the most memorable moments in my entire student life! (I’m so gonna do it again this year! Wait for that post!!!) And it made me realise I do, very much enjoy what I’m doing 🙂 and that I like to be more involved than just being a student, being a volunteer member of the Volunteering society.

It was not a difficult decision to put my name down for being a One-day Volunteer Team Leader. At the time, I was not very certain that I’m good enough to take on the role, I was not confident at all. Nevertheless, in the end, I got myself a position in the Leader team (woohoo) and I was beyond happiness! I felt like I can do so much more for the community as well as learn so many things while I’m volunteering. But on top of all, I really enjoy it and and want to do it!

September 6th 2014 was my first day back in Uni. Not simply a student keen on coming back, but also a QMSU Crew member to welcome the freshers for 2014!

QMSU Fresher Crew 2014

QMSU Fresher Crew 2014



Gradually, I was getting more and more involved with the University and everything around study and student life. I even picked up blogging (sometime in October 2014), which was an unusual thing for me to do, but it’s still great!

Come to think about my little time left, I really want to do more than what I’m already doing now! What sort of milestones will I have in 2015? There’s “Get Active” from QMSU that I have been wanting to try but I never seem to have enough time. There’s “International week” (I’m gonna do this!). There’s “QMSU Ball” or the “Boat Party” that I never have the motivation to go… And I know another one that can make it in to my list though… (Just that I’m not quite sure if I can do it :()

… Since we are in the nomination period for new QMSU officers… should I give it a try? :3

I’ll give myself a little more time to think about this! Maybe it would be one of the best thing I have done while being at QMUL! <3


Spreading the Love for Geography

If you’re someone that has a real love for geography and an urge to enthuse other students, then the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Ambassador Scheme could be just the thing for you to get involved with!

Celebration Day 2014 (jazz hands)

Geography Ambassadors at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) headquarters in Kensington, London


Undergraduates, postgraduates and graduates can all apply to become an ambassador and once you have attended a training session you are free to go and spread the love for geography in classrooms and beyond. Throughout all of your visits there is amazing support provided to you and any resources that you need are sent to you though the post, including your I LOVE GEOGRAPHY pencils… that yes, it is true, both students and teachers go crazy for!

I Love Geography Pencils to give out t0 the students

You can get in touch with teachers yourself or check  on the Facebook page where potential visits are added daily. Schools may ask for a wide range of visit topics for example:

  • I love geography sessions
  • Careers in geography
  • What is geography like at university?

…or maybe they would like you to come up with a fun entertaining geographical activity that will enthuse their students. Lets face it, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘isn’t geography just colouring in?’…as an RGS-IBG Ambassador it is your chance to erase that stereotype!

I got involved as an RGS-IBG Ambassador during my first year at Queen Mary University of London. I saw it as great opportunity as I hope to become a Secondary School Geography Teacher. However, even if you are not interested in becoming a teacher it doesn’t matter as along with the social aspect, this scheme provides you with lots more invaluable skills that would look great on any C.V.  My first session was a children’s lecture at the Royal Geographical Society at its headquarters in Kensington – just down the District Line from Queen Mary – it was a great way to kick start being an Ambassador. I got to meet fellow geographers from both QMUL and other universities and I received my Ambassador t-shirt!

Following on from this I attended three events at schools in London that I arranged myself. First up was a lunchtime session for a group of sixth formers who wanted to know what geography was like at university. Secondly I attended an Open Evening at Addey and Stanhope School to encourage students and their parents that taking geography as a GCSE option is a really great way to widen future horizons. The RGS-IBG Ambassador scheme provided me with loads of great resources to give to the school, the students and the parents. I later returned to Addey and Stanhope School and had the chance to do an after school session based entirely on my own ideas. So despite others opinions, I decided to take a laboratory  into the classroom and do soil analysis, even though my flat mates joked ‘so… your just going to talk to them about dirt?!’ it went down really well, the students loved it and I got amazing feedback. Soil analysis was something that I had been studying in my first year, I provided the equipment and soil samples with the help of the geography laboratory staff at QMUL, and in groups the students tested soil texture, soil pH and soil colour.

Testing the pH of the soil

Testing the pH of the soil

Concentrating on getting that pH value just right

Concentrating on getting that pH value just right

Analysing the soil texture

Analysing the soil texture

Not wanting to get their fingers dirty didn't last long!

Not wanting to get their fingers dirty didn’t last long!

Using the Munsell colour charts

Using the Munsell colour charts

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From the short talk that I gave the students even managed to make some university style notes

The students made some university style notes from the short talk that I gave

Becoming an RGS-IBG Ambassador is really simple, you can download the application form from the Geography Ambassador Scheme website and a training session is happening at QMUL on the 13th February 2015. The scheme is really flexible and allows you to do something different around all of your university studies. For me this scheme has provided me with so much confidence, I really enjoy every moment of it and I cannot wait to do another session and eventually become a geography  teacher! Whether in London or your home city, there are lots of students out there waiting for you to come to their school and spread the love for geography… so what are you waiting for?

RGS throwing


This is how I spent my weekend :)

Hi readers!

My name is Nia and this is my first entry 🙂

First of all, I shall assume that you guys know nothing about me and have no interest in me (sad but that’s fine) thus, I’m gonna introduce myself in this post and express my personality in future ones as well. So, here it goes! 😛

Basic: I’m currently in my 2nd year, studying Business Management. I’m an international student (from Vietnam, speaking Vietnamese :3) and it has now been my 4th year in London so far. I rented a private flat since year 1 and shared it with 2 other friends – both studying in Queen Mary as well. It takes me around 25 minutes to walk to uni but considering the wind, the rain and the future snow, I usually take the bus, which cost me only 12 minutes or so 🙂

But anyways…

The neon Glow fun run 2014


This picture above is how much fun I had with other QM Students last friday (17th, by the way, my weekend is prolonged thanks to a friday-off, muahahahah).

There were Glow sticks, Glow paint, UV lights and very very loud music!

Guess what…

*Drum roll*

I went to the Neon Glow Fun Run!!!!!!!! (not clubbing >:P haha)

Sorry if I disappointed you 🙂 I am a member of the QMSU Volunteer and I am also a one-day event team leader 😀 (Nia, remember!)
Last friday, there was an event called the Neon Glow fun run held in the Mile End Stadium. I was not leading this event but it was equally fun for me 🙂 We got a chance to do face painting for the runners (and for each other) prior to the run. What was said is that we, as marshals, can spray paint on the runners while they are running… It didn’t happen though… (I think it would if we asked) but instead, we could run and be sprayed ourselves (some of us did).

Dancing Glow Hunter

Then on sunday, I was the event leader for the Breakfast challenge (another volunteer opportunity). If you guys don’t know, the challenge is not for who can eat the most or who can eat the fastest xD but it’s about preparing and serving breakfast for the homeless at the Whitechapel mission. There were 7 of us (including me) meeting up outside the Mile End station at 5am on a sunday morning – how enthusiastic it sounds! For this occasion (and for the first time), the president of the Student Union – Dola Osilaja, joined our crew!
 I would quote the link of the 2 events’ photos once they are uploaded on the QMSU Volunteer Facebook webpage 🙂

But there are some photos I took that I can show you guys now, like this one:

Cooking sausages, bacons and eggs

Cooking sausages, bacons and eggs – Breakfast Challenge

Cleaning up

Cleaning up afterwards – Breakfast Challenge

Our work finished around 11:30am when the sun was up bright and shine – a beautiful sunday 😀
We volunteers all got on the bus and headed back to the Mile End station. My duty officially ended for the event <3

♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪

Some asked me why I do this sort of activities, I replied “why not?”.
Volunteering has different purpose/meaning to different people. It can be a mean of enhancing your cv, improving your soft skills, expanding your social network and so on and so forth. It does the same for me and I can see how useful and wonderful it is after each and every event I went to.
After quite sometime doing this (I started last year), I think the real reason why I enjoy volunteering is because of the benefit it raises for both parties. It’s good for me to volunteer as for the reasons above and it’s better off for the people I help through these fund-raising, care-giving through these events.
The bonus (+) for me it’s the satisfying feeling when I know I am doing something good and worthwhile  for the society :”> It is just a great feeling…

♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪

That’s it for this first entry of mine 🙂
Hope I didn’t exhaust your eyes!
Have a nice and productive week! See you guys next time 😛

(Bonus Picture – me and the staff at the Whitechapel mission)

The staff and the team leader

The staff and the team leader

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