This a guest blog post by Rong Zou, who recently undertook a volunteering placement for the Festival of the Mind.
I am a new masters student studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. I moved to Sheffield in July 2016. I received an email about volunteering for Festival of the Mind and I thought it was a good chance to practice my English, make friends with other people and learn more about the culture of the UK.
I am so glad that I was given the chance to become a volunteer; I would definitely recommend to others to get involved in the future, either as a volunteer or by visiting the festival.
There are so many interesting and amazing events during Festival of the Mind, including talks, theatrical performances, art displays, as well as interactive exhibitions all about research carried out at the University.
The theme of each event is different: some are about artworks, while others are about science, architecture, technology or even daily life. There are one-off events and exhibitions, all about our University research.
I volunteered several times during the festival at the Spiegeltent and at the Millennium Gallery. I was talking about what was happening at the festival, giving guidance to the public and helping to get feedback about the events. In order to do a good job, I familiarised myself with the events and learnt about the research behind them by reading through the brochure or asking the festival team.
I was most interested in Futurecade held at the Millennium Gallery, which was full of virtual reality exhibitions. It was my first time I had experienced virtual reality, and I was very excited to share my enthusiasm with the visitors.
I was really happy to get good feedback from the festival team on my work. I also learned a lot during the festival, including how to communicate with people and how to explain research in a simpler and more interesting way. It was so nice to communicate with lots of people from different cultures. I’d recommend that more people, especially Chinese students like myself, get more involved in these events as a great way to meet others.
Finally, I had an amazing time at the leaving party, even winning a prize for my karaoke – which especially surprised me as it was the first time performing a song in English since being in Sheffield!