I spent a week of my Easter break volunteering in Calais with a charity called Help Refugees. I had thought it would be easy to come back and write about what I saw and learned within my monthly posts – however I find myself stuck at the keyboard, literally where do I start?!
So, in a meek attempt to try and summarize everything I learned, I will tell you the 5 lessons from my time there.
I spent some of my time teaching some of the most gorgeous, polite children I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. What was so inspiring was their attitude towards learning. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to study Politics at Newcastle University – and those amazing children made me determined to never take that for granted.
I met a lot of young mothers with small children, and the strength and determination of these women to protect their children from their environment was beyond amazing. The bond shared by women largely defined my experience of the Jungle. Despite language and culture, it was obvious that women were a support network for one another. It is hard to explain my experiences with few words, but these women made me so proud to identify as a woman.
I was so excited to have a hot bath and relax on the sofa when I returned from France. But when I finally returned to my home comforts that I had missed so much, I was overwhelmed by guilt. Why do I deserve to live in a lovely house in a gorgeous countryside setting, when others have so little? The experience definitely made me question my own privilege, and my political views.
Going to Calais was the richest learning experience of my life. I met a lot of people with strong views; it was great to meet people from all different walks of life. It really made me think about why I agreed (or disagreed) with what people had to say. It is these experiences that make you question your beliefs and values.
Without my education (particularly in politics), I don’t think I would have been aware about the humanitarian crisis we’re currently facing. I would encourage anybody and everybody to engage with politics, to understand the world around them, and to help in any way they can. If you want to support