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What could you possibly gain from being a volunteer?

It gives you a great excuse to miss lectures

'Volunteering is good for your CV' has to be the phrase most overused by teachers at school. When you're younger, getting a good job doesn't seem worth losing your dignity having a wee in a forest on Duke of Edinburgh.

But at uni, you meet people who have built entire villages in Cambodia with their bare hands or have marooned themselves on a Fijian island without Wifi or running water for two months to teach children to read.

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Luckily, Durham's Student Community Action (SCA) has over 84 volunteering projects to get involved in, from dog walking to drama, which are not only good for the CV but also a lot of fun. Here are some stories from current student volunteers about their experiences.

Lauren, 2nd Year

I was serving tea to an elderly woman at the Tea Parties, when another woman across the room started laughing really loudly. The woman I was with pulled me closer to her and whispered in my ear that she “*%&@ing hated that woman, she always fake laughs at Rodney’s jokes. She’s such a flirt, Rodney is mine.” I think I found the future version of myself.

Harriet, 3rd Year

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Wanting to share the joys of volunteering with my boyfriend, I dragged him along to a Riding for the Disabled session. I personally love volunteering at the stables – there’s nothing scary about a Shetland Pony, right? Wrong.

The day consisted of me coaxing him towards the stable doors, only for him to retreat in panic every time a horse looked in his direction. In oversized wellies and rugby stash, I have never seen anyone look more uncomfortable or traumatised. I eventually let him hide away in the car to watch football.

Danny, 3rd Year

Instead of going out on a Wednesday night, I decided to have a more wholesome evening baking for a fundraiser. I made two batches of delicious brownies, left them to cool on the kitchen counter, and tucked myself into bed feeling very pleased with myself.

Around 2:30am my housemates crashed in, many dragging their club conquests. The scene of destruction in the morning was horrific and the brownies had all been demolished. Needless to say, I have since taken to hiding all baked goods.

Jake, 3rd Year

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For the Christmas shoebox appeal, the role of collecting empty shoeboxes for people to fill came down to me and my friend. Clarks were more than keen to offer us theirs and before long my friend and I were staggering hungover through the streets with two huge bin bags of shoeboxes each.

Things only got worse when I bumped into the guy I had been getting with the previous night. After a VERY awkward exchange which ended with him saying “well good luck burying the body!” I was more than ready to call it a day at 11am. Luckily the success of the appeal made the embarrassment worth it.

Ellen, 3rd Year

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Whilst volunteering for SCA project Free Cakes For Kids, my friend and I decided to bake a simple cake in an attempt to procrasti-bake away our impending summatives. However, my friend isn’t exactly what you would call a seasoned baker, so in an attempt to not seem patronising I kept my instructions minimal.

This turned out to be a terrible mistake. When we tasted the batter just before putting the cake into the oven we realised that my friend had managed to use salt instead of sugar…and ALOT of salt at that!

Nicola, 3rd Year

As a project leader of Wheatley Hill youth club you end up doing a lot of craft activities, whether you’re artistically inclined or not. Once, the children and I made pictures about our summer holidays.

I was quite proud of my finished product, however, when one of the other volunteers looked at all the pictures, she paused for a considerable length of time at mine, utterly confused. Finally she asked the children “what is it?” One by one the children had a look too, unable to answer her question, until one shouted with pride at finally working out the mystery: “It’s a whale”.

At this moment, I had two options: I could either admit that it was in fact not a whale but my boyfriend and I at the beach or I could go along with the charade. “Yes it’s a whale” I replied, “I went whale watching over summer”.

I was then asked what kind of whales I had seen and where I had seen them. This lead to a flood of unconvincing lies whereby my extremely limited knowledge of whales was exhausted and my pride over my picture completely lost.

This week, from 19th-25th February, is Student Volunteering Week at Durham. For more info, click here.