“So today my ‘Team v’ program started officially and I can’t wait to share what happened! Firstly, I would like to say I will use this blog (my personal blog) to share my Team v journey with you all, from the beginning (September 2014) to the end (May 2015). Stay tuned!”
This is the first paragraph I wrote in this blog as a Team v Leader, in my first post as part of the series “#TeamvGo My Team v Leader Journal”, which you can read fully here. Since then, nearly ten months have gone past and my time as a Team v Leader is over. Even the Team v program in itself is over too. It is impossible for me right now to not feel nostalgic. When I applied to it, I didn’t expect to be accepted. When I went to the Warm Up day, I panicked and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But, fortunately, I was wrong.
My last official day as a Team v Leader was the 31st of July, last Friday: it was Team v Graduation day. However, the previous day I had a meal with my volunteers to celebrate our achievements and to give them their certificates and gifts for helping me out with the campaigns. We went to Nando’s, one of my favourite restaurants in England. Here are a few pictures:
My two volunteers: Ruqia and Naa.
Their certificates and gifts.
Said this, I will go back to Team v Graduation day. The event took place in a hotel near St James Park, London, and it was brilliant. It was a very emotional afternoon, not only because it was the end of a journey for me and my Team v peers, but also because it was the end of an era for Team v staff members and the charity vInspired, since the program won’t run again. Team v lasted four years and I’m proud to say that I participated in one of them. Apart from emotional, the evening was also empowering, because we had guest speakers such as the CEO of Trussel Trust, who encouraged us to keep up with our work as activists, campaigners and volunteers. And, without doubt, the celebration was also fun: after the ceremony during which certificates were handed out and speeches were made, there was an after party, with music, dancing and a DJ included! I danced so much and I had a very good time with my Team v peers. Here are a few pictures of the day:
And like this, my journey as a Team v Leader ended. I have learnt some much and I have grown so much as a person thanks to this volunteering position. 2014 me is a very different person to 2015 me, and part of this change is thanks to Team v, the campaigns I have ran and everyone I have met through the program. In 2014 I was more insecure and indecisive, I had little support towards my writing and blogging, I was nearly alone when comes to my passion towards social issues, and I constantly rejected the idea of engaging in group conversations and being the centre of attention. However, all this changed for the good in the last nine months.
I have always had great ideas to do stuff like awareness campaigns, fundraising initiatives and charity events, but the fear of failure has always blocked me, because in my life failure always comes with embarrassment and guilt. Nevertheless, after been put in a position in which choices needed to be made quickly and risks needed to be taken, I started conquering that fear and secondary feelings. The two street collections I carried out for the first campaign, “Beyond a Tin of Food”, helped me with this. I had to lead and motivate my volunteers for 7-8 hours: they relied on me, so I had to be strong and brave. I had to try my best to get citizens to fill in our surveys and to get people to donate money and food. I was scared we wouldn’t get any donations, but we did, we got plenty! We had problems too due to the weather (it was very cold and windy, and our gazebo near flew away three times), but we managed to kept them under control. And after these two experiences, I realised things can work out and if something goes wrong, it can be fixed or learnt from for the next time.
Blogging about my experiences and campaigns as a Team v Leader has also been key for me in the last months. Before Team v, I already blogged, but except three close friends, nobody read what I wrote. In spite of this, I kept blogging and during the summer of last year I launched “The Witxina Project”, an initiative developed and created totally by me which involves having four blogs to show four different sides of my being: my personal side, my activist/philanthropist side, my inspirational / motivational side and my creative/bookworm side (you can read more about it here). Truth be told, if it weren’t for other Team v Leaders, I don’t think I would have been so motivated to carry out the project. I always give up easily when I don’t see positive results, I rarely try much. But fortunately, I saw positive results. And part of these positive results are thanks to my Team v peers, who have read, shared and liked posts in my four blogs, even if they weren’t related to Team v, during the whole year. They have supported my blogging passion more than anyone else, except a few of my close friends. And I didn’t expect this at all.
Apart from their support towards my blogging, there is another aspect of my Team v peers that I cherish a lot: they have the same interestfor social issues as I do. Before Team v, I felt alone and I rarely spoke about my dreams to get involved in activism and philanthropy in a future, because whenever I hinted them they got ridiculed and ruined. However, I no longer feel very “weird” or “boring” for being young and caring a lot about gender inequality, war conflicts, racism, politics, climate change or sustainability. I don’t feel delusional for choosing International Development as a university course and I don’t care about how my decision gets questioned now and then. Before Team v, I felt misunderstood, and except online in Twitter, I rarely spoke about social issues and I had little motivation to be active to change what I didn’t like. However, meeting and speaking with so many young people that are (or are working to be) activists, campaigners, and/or philanthropists inspired me to follow my dreams and believe in my wishes to make this world a better place.
Lastly but not less important, the confidence I have developed to speak in front of people without anxiety and self-doubt is probably the most important part of my personal growth throughout the program. One of my personal development goals when I started as a Team v Leader was improving my public speaking skills. I’m not a native English speaker and I’m an introverted person; it is hard for me to open up and more when talking in English. And if I’m on the spotlight, I get very nervous and I totally feel like wanting to disappear. However, during these past nine months, I have been able to carry out decent conversations with people and I have been able to speak in front of groups of people while feeling calm and comfortable, even if those people were strangers. I had to do this when I visited Southend YMCA for the first time and spoke with a worker there, and when carrying out the awareness and creative workshops in front of young people for the second campaign, “Do You Care”. Those are big achievements for me and they haven’t only been reflected in my job as a Team v Leader: I have also been more talkative and confident in college, which has helped me to not feel as lonely and isolated as I used to feel before.
On conclusion: I have no regrets of signing up to be Team v Leader. The friends I have made, the experiences I have lived, the challenges I have faced, the work I have done, the growth I have been through, the motivation I have received and the fun I have had are aspects of this volunteering program that shape who I am today. Now I feel ready to plan and run my own campaigns alone, without guidance or control. Of course there are many things I have to learn and I still need more training and help. But at least I’m not as clueless and scared as before. My time as a Team v Leader will live forever in my heart as a very enlightening and empowering period. And now it is time to move on into my next adventure.
Team v forever!
Emilie H. Featherington
(PS: Clicking on this link you can check all the pictures through my Team v journey! Don’t miss out: https://www.flickr.com/photos/134519211@N08/sets/72157656321809480)