Anna Williams - We can be heroes
On the day after the Olympics' glorious opening ceremony, I bumped into Boris Johnson at the cinema in Islington. He was there to see Spiderman; I was there to see Batman. I slept through most of my movie and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Boris had a sneaky power nap during his as he did look rather tired. I generally feign disinterest if I see someone famous out and about, but on this occasion, perhaps in the grip of Olympo-mania, I went over and introduced myself to Boris and thanked him for leading the Team London Ambassadors initiative. If you've been in London during the Games you may have seen Ambassadors wearing their extremely pink uniforms as they assist visitors to the city. If not, here's the Team's Facebook page. I'll be wearing my own uniform with enormous pride outside Euston Station during the Paralympics.
Boris asked me whether I will continue volunteering after the Games, and right now my answer is a resounding 'yes'. I hope I feel the same sense of enthusiasm after my six shifts are over because most of them will be bolted onto the end of a working day, so it will be a long week. What I have already noticed though is that my motivation for applying to join the programme has turned into something different. I feel things now about being a volunteer that I had not envisaged almost a year and a half ago. Back then I felt a sense of disappointment, guilt even, about my lack of involvement in any kind of formal voluntary scheme. I saw the Ambassadors initiative as a way to fix that by doing something I genuinely thought was useful. I have always been touched when a stranger in another city has approached me and asked me where I am from, or whether I like Esfahan, or was this my first visit to Delhi? I have often wished ordinary Londoners had a reputation internationally for being openly welcoming and saw the Games as a time when we could make that happen.
Right now I feel like I have a genuine stake in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games and our utterly amazing city. I feel overwhelming pride in our sportsmen and women and their unswerving dedication to excellence. I am also overwhelmingly proud of what the Games Makers and Ambassadors are achieving, and I can't wait to get my pink uniform on.
Maybe one of the strongest reasons for joining a volunteering project is the sense of positivity, achievement, self-belief and confidence it can give you. I have also met all kinds of people among my fellow volunteers, and in doing so I have come to appreciate the importance of skills and traits I don't usually think about. The training sessions have been well organised and interesting, and I have observed things that I will find useful professionally. Most of all, I now have a new context in which to use the word 'we'. 'We' is an incredibly powerful concept.
With the new academic year approaching, this is a great time to review your own ideas about volunteering. Keep an eye out for our fantastic new Pro Bono page, soon to be appearing on LC.N (we'll let you know when via Facebook and Twitter). It will identify loads of different schemes related to law and other advisory activities. These are exactly the sort of schemes that will inspire you to make the most of your time at university and give you much clearer ideas about the skills and traits a lawyer should have. Right now, I can't see a downside to volunteering.