Hear from VP Welfare, Cheryl, on her experience attending Y Talwrn (an NUS Wales residential for sabbatical officers)!
Earlier this month, our officers attended Y Talwrn where they were able to meet with other sabbatical officers from across Wales. Cheryl has shared her thoughts on the experience!
Day 1: 17th of August 2023
Today, Sofia, Kenzy, Jamal, and I embarked on a journey to Wrexham Glyndwr University to attend the Y Talwrn student officer training. After a 3-hour road trip of small meandering roads from Treforest, we made it to Wrexham. Maybe next time, I should take a leaf from Sofia’s book and use the train instead. We quickly registered and sneaked into the orientation session before anyone noticed we were 15 minutes late.
I was eager from the get-go; however, this excitement was coupled with nervousness as this was my first time meeting other sabbatical officers from other Welsh university student unions. The atmosphere was buzzing with cool student leaders from the University of Aberystwyth, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Wrexham Glyndwr?University, Royal Welsh collage and USW officers and NUS Wales leadership team members.
The host NUS campaign coordinator, Zack hosted this fun activity where all the officers stood in a circle, and three balls of yarn. The blue yarn represented what we wanted to prioritise this year, the green yarn represented what we wanted to collaborate with other student union officers, and the pink yarn represented what we wanted to achieve countrywide. By the end of the activity, the floor was covered with a colourful representation of our ideas for the year. We then went on to learn more from the group about creating manifestos and how we can collaborate across the different institutions in Wales.
The training facilitators welcomed us after introducing ourselves and our roles in our unions, who gave us an overview of the training schedule and objectives. Seeing how energy was in different universities' roles and participation to achieve similar goals was inspiring. After a short break, we actively discussed working in the current Welsh political landscape, which I found informative because I have only been in Wales for a year now, and the pollical situation still confuses me.
The morning's highlight was a thought-provoking session on the importance of student voice in decision-making processes. We explored various case studies showcasing successful and challenging student involvement in the university.
Lunch was at 12:30 pm, but we had it slightly earlier. Mushrooms spaghetti bolognese, a 10 out of 10! Compliments to the chefs. After lunch, we toured the Wrexham Glyndwr University campus and dropped our bags in our rooms (because remember we came late and didn't have a chance to do so earlier). At around 2 pm we split into smaller groups for interactive workshops on the student housing crisis, student housing co-operatives and their potential In Wales.
The day concluded with a networking session on ingraining accessibility into workplace culture, allowing us to connect with fellow student officers and share our thoughts on the day's activities. I left feeling a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm for my role ahead. Reflecting on the day, I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals and exchanging ideas with fellow student leaders.
Now after dinner, burger and fries another 10 out of 10, the Wrexham officers hosted a quiz night on general knowledge and pop culture of 2022. There SU bar was open till ten, and we had officers from around the world socialising over a pint – plenty of pints, I might add. We split into four groups, and even after scoring 25 out of 60, my group was somehow second-best!
Sofia and I, the officer team's biggest sleepy heads, slept early. The boys went out for drinks with the other officers at Wetherspoons.
It was not the best sleep because I forgot my favourite teddy bear, plus the roars of the Wrexham football fans kept me up a bit before falling asleep.
Day 2: 18th of August 2023
Day two of the training in Wrexham was much more relaxed. This may have been due to some of the officers having a hangover or because it was a serious training session on supporting our apprentices, voter registration, political education, social justice and university investments and managing stress and workload at work.
The morning began with an insightful session on effective campaign strategies. We learned about identifying key issues student minority groups experience and how to craft compelling messages to mobilise student support. The Wrexham student’s union staff shared success stories of impactful campaigns that created positive change, motivating us to develop our advocacy plans. I was sitting next to the president of the Cardiff and Bangor University student's unions, and we exchanged contact details on ideas we have for a joint campaign on incorporating more Welsh language on campus.
A significant portion of the day was dedicated to understanding the intricacies of student representation within university meeting committees. We delved into the structures and processes that allow student voices to be heard at various decision-making levels of the university. Role-playing exercises helped us simulate real committee scenarios, enhancing our grasp of navigating discussions and presenting student viewpoints convincingly.?
After lunch, a guest speaker whom I forgot their name (sorry guys) shared their experiences on how we, as student leaders, can make a change on a national level. Their journey was inspiring and informative, shedding light on the broader impact of effective student representation beyond the campus boundaries.?We also spent much time debunking certain myths about voting in the general elections as a student. Fun fact … many international students are eligible to vote in the general elections. I didn’t know this and I'm pretty sure a lot of international students don’t know this too. I have made a note to run a campaign about voting in the general elections later in the year.
The training concluded with a reflective session where we set personal goals for applying what we've learned. Wow, this has been surprisingly longer than I thought! As I wrap up these two days of intensive training. The knowledge gained and the connections made during this experience are invaluable. I'm determined to use them to impact my university community at USW positively.
Until next time,