Nathan Too has volunteered with Team Up for a number of years. He has served on the UCL Team Up committee, and has been one of our most active volunteers, winning the 2015-16 Simon Edwards Award for Outstanding Achievement. Here, he writes about his Team Up journey.
I first joined Team Up because I was looking to volunteer with young people, and I had really enjoyed doing youth work previously, so I got in contact with the University Volunteering services, who helped me identify some options, and on the list was Team Up. I had a look at the website, and was completely sold on the mission, so I applied for the role of School Officer.
In my first year at uni I was a school officer at Stoke Newington School and a tutor at Hampstead School, and in my second year I have been a tutor at St John Bosco and President of the UCL Team Up committee. The school officer role had a lot of ups and downs and I quickly learnt that maintaining open communication with a school is very difficult given their busy timetable. I enjoyed the challenge of delivering the Team Up program in Stoke Newington, and being able to help tutors improve and complete their leadership award. I also enjoyed tutoring at Hampstead and St John Bosco. The most rewarding thing was to watch those sudden moments of clarity when a pupil understood a concept for the first time. It’s amazing to watch their expression change and they realise that they can learn maths, and that it can be a subject they can own. It was fantastic to hear some of the feedback given by the pupils at Hampstead, who clearly benefited from the program.
The Team Up program has really pushed me to be highly organised, and has developed my professional skills, particularly soft skills. These skills were commended when I completed a 10-week internship in a bank last summer, and it was thanks to the professional development with which Team Up has provided me that I was able to demonstrate these skills. A particular seminar I found useful was the Getting Things Done seminar – and I can see Jonny and Megs smirking if they see I mention this – as it gave me the tools to systematically monitor and complete tasks.
The most important thing to me about the Team Up mission, is the aspect of inspiring the tutees to take education into their own hands. It was something that I emphasised when I was recruiting tutors, and it was why I started each tuition session with a description of my experiences at University that week: what Psychology experiment I was designing or a paper on modifying memories using lasers. Tutees seem to like the idea of zapping rats with lasers. I was trying to demonstrate that learning is something you take into your own hands, and that if they chose to own their own learning, they would eventually be able to steer it according to their own interests, and that it would open up many opportunities for them.
I chose to become a committee member because I wanted to get more deeply involved with Team Up, and help as much as possible to deliver a successful program.