Shawn Welch (Spotlight Young Person)

Tell me about yourself (age, interests, whether you are studying or working etc)
I am a mixed-raced young man from a working class background. My grandparents are from Panama, Barbados, St Lucia and East Europe. I’ve blessed the earth with my presence for 22 years now and I’d say we have a pretty good relationship, it teaches me and I try to teach people to love it. I’m interested in the wonderful and weird and anything that has swagger. I love stories philosophy, poetry and meeting new people, so being a spoken word artist and performing allows me to do all four aspects of my current self designed culture. At the moment I’m not studying academically but I like to spend most of my time buried in books learning about my environment and spirituality, then I go out looking for the experiences to clarify what I’ve learned. Self-description in a sentence; I am a culture vulture.

Why did you decide to apply to volunteer in a developing country?
I decided to volunteer because I like the thought of being able to make a difference and by applying myself to things that make a difference reassures that, I’m making a difference.

What country will you be going to for your trip?
Ghana.

What do you think are the skills and qualities that you will need to make a difference to the local community that you will be staying with?
People skills, a good social awareness, patience and diligence are the top 4 qualities that I think anyone would need to make a difference, everything else will then fall into place. I guess a good knowledge of working with building tools will be beneficial but the eagerness to learn will be more important.

What do you think you will gain from the experience of volunteering in a developing country?
Insight mostly. I think my time on the course will drive me to look inside myself and try to relate to my experiences. I also think I’ll gain a broader perspective on different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles which will result in boosting my character or changing it completely.

What type of projects will you be getting involved in as a volunteer in the community you will be staying with?
As far as I know most of the projects are based on development of some kind, whether it be building paths and landscaping or reforestation and developing sanitation facilities. There will be tasks such as planting trees within the community, wildlife conservation and campsite development so you can see that most of the projects are hands on and provide plenty of opportunities for me to offer my services in physical ways.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges that you will face during your time away?
My biggest challenges will be spending time away from my family. I am very family orientated and knowing I won’t be able to physically appreciate their presence will be uncomfortable for me during my time away. I think adjusting to the culture and lifestyle will be fun but also challenging and on a more serious note, dealing with the poverty and the communities’ access to basic resources will require a large amount of mental endeavour.

What are you most looking forward to about living in a developing country?
The insight I will gain from my experience and the motivation I will accumulate by seeing how people living in a developing country still have strong spirits. I’m also looking forward to being apart of that development, as I will be sharing my own experience and any physical attributes I can offer.

What do you think are the biggest problems affecting the local community that you will be staying with?
Diseases, health and sanitation problems I think are at the top of the list and poverty, education, and limited resources are what the community may lack affirming that they maybe problems also.

What more do you think should be done to encourage young people to get involved in volunteering in their local communities?
I don’t know what’s being done already but thinking outside the box I guess you could offer some kind of prospects such as Titles after their name or a wall of fame and achievement that the whole community can view and take pride in.

What will you miss the most about being away from home?
I’ll miss my family most. Then my friends, my bed, hot showers, ribena and snickers.
What ideas do you have for telling your story once you are back from your trip? Visually I thought I would work with photographs and recorded events. I also will be writing a journal to document my time spent with locals and my platform2 team. Once I’ve gathered all my data which will be poems, songs and pictures developed by myself, I will then start to produce a play or some sort of production that will be theatre based to tell my or a story relating to mine that inspired me.

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB