Rithik Sharma (BSc in Mathematics and Economics, 2022) has been volunteering with The Literacy Pirates, a charity which improves the reading, writing and perseverance of children who are falling behind in school and have fewer opportunities. They do this in lots of fun ways that aren’t typical of your normal classroom, and Rithik is here to tell us about his experience tutoring online!
To be able to help those who may be behind in school, or have difficulty in excelling in literacy or even just to gain confidence for their everyday life have been some of the major positives I have been able to take away from my time so far at The Literacy Pirates. Volunteering in person or volunteering online have both been extremely enjoyable with the same energy in both. Term time projects or holiday workshops have always been productive and intriguing for both volunteers and students and is a great challenge- even for the volunteers!
The Literacy Pirates attempt to aid students who may struggle with literacy and build confidence in an interactive manner- not like the ‘boring’ way of tuition or school! Before the pandemic, we worked at one of the two ‘ships’- students picking a book to read, playing games and going ahead with the designated project- so this included writing a story that was then published in a book, or being able to produce a movie that premiered at the local cinema! It was always rewarding to see the outcome- the premiere is a great way to come together and celebrate a term’s worth of work!
However, with Covid, we had to switch to online. My first encounter with this was to be able to help (and also build) the students to make a ukulele, whilst also learning jargon to do with music! This was a welcome challenge and one where one has to realise the importance of being able to describe matters in a precise and simple way (sometimes you can get away by giving an example in person). Throughout the 20/21 school year, there were various projects on show- with the option to volunteer regularly (once a week) or flexibly (to your discretion) which meant you can easily shape it around your schedule. Personally, my favourite project was a winter workshop on the students being able to make a hip-hop/poem regarding a topic of their choice- as one who enjoys music, this was a great way to wind down after a hectic term at university and also to see the never-ending ideas students can come up with.
When you are at university, you are always looking to boost your CV as you feel you are at a disadvantage to others all the time. So, you apply for internships, look for work, do languages and such. However, volunteering is a great stress relief- to either give back to the community, to do something you are passionate about or to just get away from the university environment. Initially, when looking at volunteering roles, it was to improve my CV, but having volunteered for almost 2 years at The Literacy Pirates, I volunteer there purely because there is always a great atmosphere- in person or online- but most importantly, you can see the benefits to the students. With Covid slowly being a less impertinent issue, you can volunteer in person or online. And unlike a university class, the sessions are bustling and time goes very quickly!
It is a great distraction from university and may teach you something about yourself or how you manage your degree- for me, I saw that not every student is the same, so you have to change your tactic in engaging them and pushing them to complete their work. It is the same idea with the modules we pick; we can’t tackle each module in the same manner! Even if you have only a couple of hours to spare a month, volunteering at The Literacy Pirates is a great way to spend your time.
If we’ve inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. If you are short on time, then take a look at the one-off opportunities that will return for Michaelmas Term 2021, organised by the LSE Volunteer Centre. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.