Volunteering in Sheffield

After hearing about the Conversation Club on Tuesday, I decided to go along to the session on the following Friday. I am not a spontaneous person, so this was very much out of my comfort zone, especially as I knew it would involve communicating with people of varying levels of English. However, I was brave, and it’s always rewarding to do things that challenge you.

I arrived quite early, so I was feeling a bit awkward, but actually it gave me time to sit down with one of the organisers and find out a bit more about the club, the English lessons they provide, and the charity ASSIST who run it. This prepared me for when the rest of the club arrived, as it was very noisy and busy. Everyone was very welcoming, which is probably to be expected since it’s organised around chatting!

I chatted for a short while with one man, though I didn’t find out where he was originally from, about cycling and painting. When he went into the English class, I chatted with a lovely man from Saudi Arabia. An older lady from North Africa chatted with us, which was quite useful as they both spoke Arabic, so if there were any difficulties in communication we could work it out! I then listened to her read out loud, helping out with pronunciation and any words she did not understand. After this I realise how difficult it is to describe English words. Things like “such a…”, or “really”. And of course, trying to explain librarianship is difficult! Luckily, most of the people had heard of or used libraries, so ‘library’ was a word they could understand.

I am currently writing an essay on public library services for UK ethnic minorities. Although the Conversation Club isn’t run by the library, Burngreave Library advertises it, and there is a library drop-in session on the Conversation Club’s Wednesday event. One of the organisers told me about the 3 Book Challenge sessions she runs in Burngreave Library, and I’d love to help out but it’s unfortunately when I have a class. Perhaps I’ll be a bit more flexible next term when I’m doing my dissertation. I hope to go to the Conversation Club again, though it’ll be sporadic as my Fridays are looking pretty full. They didn’t seem to mind though, as most people come and go anyway.

I felt really good afterwards, feeling I had been brave and spontaneous!

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