Tuesday, May 17, 2011
You don’t have to be fresh out of school to join STAR. Students of any age can benefit from getting involved.
Mature student Phil Chapman is studying marine biology at Southampton University. This is his third year with STAR and he’s the current president of his group. Before he hands off leadership, he spoke to us about why his experience with STAR has been valuable.
How did you first get involved with STAR?
I first got involved really because I came back into education as a mature student and I wanted to sort of keep my foot in the real world, as it were, and not just be surrounded by student things and just studying.
So I found out about this organisation in Southampton called CLEAR, which is a project set up by a local church that works with asylum seekers and refugees. They run English language classes as well as a drop-in centre and contribute to various other things in and around the city. So I started volunteering there.
Is it quite hard to get students interested in STAR?
Depends in what area. Most of the people who come along initially at the beginning of the year, I’ve found, have been interested in volunteering, so they want to do something active. The campaigning stuff is harder to motivate people to get involved in, but there’s been a core of us that are happy to plug away at those things.
Why did you think it was important to get involved in refugee and asylum seeker issues?
I had worked previously with other marginalised communities in the country. I’d worked for charities, working with the homeless and addicts.
We’d just come out of quite a number of years where there had been, I don’t know, a kind of feverish attitude in the media towards asylum seekers and refugees. I guess it’s a political motivation to want to work and help with people who are very marginalised by society.
What would you say to a student who is considering joining STAR – has it been worthwhile for you?
Absolutely, yes. From my experience at Southampton, as opposed to other societies, you can get involved with STAR and if you have any kind of interest or idea, the chances are you can make it happen, because it’s small enough for anyone with a particular interest or passion to pursue it and to take other people with you. It’s really open. Within the field that you’re working in, there’s every opportunity to pursue an interest, whether it be volunteering or campaigning.
It’s great for experience in organising political campaigns or getting involved in the local community. There’s the opportunity to pursue your interests without real resistance and with lots of people there to support you.
What has been the highlight of your time with STAR?
I would have to say, actually doing the volunteering that I arranged through STAR, so working in the CLEAR office with people who had the sort of issues you deal with in the abstract when you’re campaigning. You’re coming face to face with and meeting the people in the situations about which you’re talking and trying to campaign.
Posted by Communications on 17/05/2011 at 10:09 AM
in Group News
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