SVA Update: Issue 3
Alumni Profile: Sara Cowan
In this section of SVA Update we have contacted previous year’s volunteers to hear their SVA stories and see if they can offer any advice for our current volunteers for on-project or after they leave university. Sara Cowan is SVA’s February Alumni Profile and she talked to our editor about the bilingual benefits of Nepali homebrew and the career prospects working on SVA projects can bring…
So tell us about yourself: Who are you, where do you live and what do you do?
My name is Sara Cowan and I work for Oxfam Scotland as the Campaigns and Activism Coordinator. I live in Glasgow but my job covers the whole of Scotland so I travel around a lot. My job involves working on Oxfam campaigns, raising awareness about these campaigns and supporting volunteers to get involved (including a campaigns group at Glasgow University).
At the moment my main focus is working on the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign - you can find out more information here - http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/our-campaigns/if
What Student Volunteers Abroad project did you go on and when?
I took part in SVA back in 2001 and went to a remote region of Nepal called Solu Khumbu. We worked on a project with a local youth centre and the females in the group taught English to the local Mothers Group.
What is most memorable from your time with SVA?
My most memorable time with SVA was the evenings we spent with the Mothers Group, sharing language experiences and laughs most nights of the weeks. In particular drinking the raakhi (homemade alcohol) helped all of us improve our confidence in speaking a new language.
Did your time with SVA prepare you for a career in international development?
My time with SVA gave me the confidence to pursue working in international development. I choose to study related topics in my final two years at University following my involvement with SVA. It gave me the motivation to apply for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) youth programme to spend two years working overseas, and I have no doubt that the previous experience of SVA was an important factor in me getting through the selection process for this.
Do you have any advice for our current volunteers?
Enjoy your time with SVA, you only have a short time overseas so make the most of the time you have there. But remember this is just the start of it. Keep volunteering while you are at University, whether it be with SVA or with campaigning organisations all this will build your experience for when you leave University.
Sara Cowan Speaking with Alan-James Mahon
SVA is a Scottish Registered Charity: No. SC 030081 c/o. University of Glasgow SRC, The John MacIntyre Building, University of Glasgow, GLASGOW, G12 8QQ