This weekend I disappeared off to Wellingborough for my ICS pre-placement training. It was the first time that I got to meet the other Sierra Leone team volunteers and team leaders. To sum it up in one word, it was intense. I didn’t arrive until late on the Friday afternoon (I had an exam in the afternoon, which thankfully went well!) so I missed a little bit but we had full days (9.15am til ~9pm) Saturday and Sunday and then 9.15am-4pm on the Monday before we went home.
It covered so much information that my brain kinda went into overload. We did activities on our preconceptions, our fears over culture and security, a whole day on keeping safe and also got a little more information about what we will actually be doing when we go out. We had a talk from a previous volunteer (unfortunately she went to Senegal rather than Sierra Leone as the volunteer meant to talk to our group couldn’t make it) but it was fascinating to hear about the experience from someone that has actually done it.
In between all of that learning, I also had to learn the names of at least 20 other people which wasn’t easy! But, even though we were only together for a short time, I feel like there are people on my team that I could easily become good friends with and I hope that I will end up in the same place as them when we go out (Team Sierra Leone is split between two separate locations so we don’t know who we will be with or where we will be based yet).
Of course, it was a very social weekend. I was amazed that, by some chance, one of the guys on Team Sierra Leone also comes from my home town which seems an amazing coincidence! People were on their best behaviour and everyone was kind and outgoing – me included, to a point on outgoing anyway – which naturally made me immeasurably tired, as all heavy socialising does. It’s been a good few days since I got home and I am still sleeping way more than normal as my body tries to sort itself out!
What else… The food was surprisingly nice. The bunk beds were very creaky (yes, we were sharing rooms and had bunk beds!!) and a tad small but we survived. The view from the lodge we stayed at was beautiful. I even managed to get on all of the right trains.
In other news, yesterday was the Kent Union Awards and my society, Stage Spiders, won an award! We were awarded dedication to volunteering for our hard work on our projects and fundraising across the year, which was a real honour. Our President was also awarded a lifetime membership to the union which she definitely deserved; she has worked so hard this year with the committee and everything else she has done that I can’t think of anyone more deserving.
I think that is about it. I’ve got two exams left, the next is on Saturday (Saturday!?) at 9.30am so wish me luck and let’s keep our fingers crossed that this beautiful weather continues over the bank holiday!