Earlier this year, I conducted my 8 week block placement at SMLC, whose purpose was two-fold, firstly, I aspired to support the organisation’s work in the role of a volunteer and secondly, I was required to undertake a research project. My researcher role required me to observe and interact with learning advisors (LA) and learning group advisors to create an in-depth understanding of what they do and my role as a volunteer resulted in me helping students and LA’s on a daily basis with activities and workshops.

Looking back and writing this, I disgustingly remember counting down days where my placement would be over. I was tired, felt a bit lost and couldn’t comprehend the idea of having to wake up so early to spend my day in a school whose unique take on education I just couldn’t wrap my head around. However, I also remember a few weeks into my placement that coming to SMLC felt more than just a compulsory part of my routine or placement module, I was excited to be here and be caught in the hustle and bustle of workshops, the Romeo and Juliet play and just generally learning more from everyone in little ways. I found that being here not only enhanced my research but also me as an individual, I found myself extremely inspired and motivated by the students around me to pursue what I found interesting and work on my own self-management skills.

Being at SMLC not only allowed me to pass a significant part of my university degree but it also made me feel a part of a positive and uplifting community, where I found myself growing as a person and I can confidently say that I ended my 8 week placement with a heart full of love and appreciation from the SML community and a better mindset.

Therefore, I came back to SMLC as a volunteer to continue giving back to a wonderful community that helped me in indescribable ways. In addition, after getting an 8-week taster of the crazy antiques here at SMLC, I wasn’t able to stay away from the one of a kind students and staff here, and the home-like smell of butter and toast that always fills the air.

by Ashna Mahtani