Guest Blog: Celebrating Volunteers Week

This Volunteers’ Week, we caught up with Wenwen Ke, studying Arts Management at Manchester University, who has been volunteering with us for the past few months. Wenwen talked about her love of creative arts and having the opportunity to use that passion to create a positive impact.

“I have been working as Programme & Events Support Intern at Music Action International, a non-profit organisation using the power of creativity to help people overcome war-related stress and trauma. Doing my placement here is absolutely a meaningful and valuable experience for me. Though different from what I have experienced before, it is the most thought-provoking, leaving me something to think about the world in which I live – humanities and human rights issues.

Wenwen (left) and Wiktoria, our brilliant events interns

Supporting live shows and the delivery of one of their creative programmes, Stone Flowers, is the practical side of my work. I mainly helped music facilitators with session preparation, travel expense distribution, session delivery and feedback collection. The other part of my placement is working in the office each Wednesday, helping with management of Stone Flowers and Crisis Choirs, particularly evaluation and monitoring. Working with other volunteers, I helped manage the evaluation process for four separate groups to make sure that feedback from participants is used to make the sessions even better in the future.

Helping with the delivery and evaluation of programmes, I am able to see the power of music and am amazed at the power of creativity and arts in connecting and curing people. For me personally, music has always been a friend in my life, going down deep in the very core of me. The power music has given me became my primary reason in choosing Music Action International as my placement host, and I come to realise that not only to me, music brings its healing power to every person and soul it meets.

During my placement, I see participants starting to make eye contact with people and hear facilitators being extremely happy when participants showed their love for music. I also saw the audience at the recent performance at the Whitworth Art Gallery excitedly clapping, moving and dancing with the music, even though they may not understand all of the languages – participants performed in a variety of languages including Arabic, Farsi and Lingala languages, to name a few.

Wenwen (left) and Wiktoria doing brilliant work to help organise our events

I have long been interested in working in the performing arts sector, wishing to pursue a career as a producer in theatres. This placement has made me more certain of this idea and directed me further into exploring the power of creativity and music. As is shown in many reports and research, engagement with the arts has been found to increase life expectancy; alleviate anxiety, depression and stress; improve quality of
life of individuals and communities as well as combating social isolation.

In my future career pursuits, I will carry this experience with me and continue to devote myself to exploring this positive impact that the arts have on people’s health and wellbeing, particularly for older people and people suffering with poor mental health. I am hoping that one day I can be a positive influence on people from diverse backgrounds and make my own contribution to our global community of shared destinies.”

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