Oh, the places you’ll go: A year in the SGO


Oh, the places you’ll go: A year in the SGO

Since the first lockdown back in 2020, time has been a little tricky for me to keep a hold of. I somehow went from a first-year student trying to figure out exactly how Blackboard worked to a third-year graduating this September with more experience under my belt than I’d ever thought possible. A lot of that is owed to the Student Green Office. When I started this role back in November of 2021 (which, if I’m honest, feels both like last week and a lifetime ago), I had no way of knowing how transformative an experience it would be.

I started my time at university off the back of the person I was at secondary school; a little shy, a little anxious, and more than a little socially awkward. The pandemic didn’t do me any favours in that regard. But my time at the SGO has encouraged (and sometimes forced!) me to push beyond barriers I’d put in my own way. Two years ago, running events that required starting conversations with strangers (and sometimes flagging people down) such as our Christmas Card Drive would have probably sent me running back to the relative seclusion of my room.

Yet through all of these events, I haven’t had a single negative experience, or even a mediocre one. On the contrary, every encounter has been lovely. In my introductory blog post, I wrote about sustainability being a group endeavour. Seven months later, that is no less true. With each event or gathering or discussion, that sense of community, of belonging, of a desire to change the world in all the ways we can and to do it together, has been reinforced. Sure, events like our pizza party probably enticed hungry students wanting free food as much as it did environmental enthusiasts, but the end result was the same: A group of students, far larger than we’d expected, sat in the sun outside of Verena Holmes talking, laughing and interacting in ways they otherwise might not have.

Image description: Max, Holly and Nellie sat on the grass outside Verena Holmes recreating the pointing Spider-Man meme

In a perpetually changing world, humanity is perhaps one of the only constants, in all senses of the word. How easy it is to get caught up in the tangle of news headlines and warnings and almost dystopian occurrences and forget that everybody else is, to some extent, living through it right next to you. It can be disheartening to look at the big picture and feel so much smaller than the changes you’d like to make, or for the littler, yet equally important changes, to feel somehow insignificant.

But none of that changes the positive impact of these seemingly tiny acts. I was fortunate enough to see, first-hand, the way students smiled when receiving a festive card from an anonymous sender, or the (somewhat confused) elation when finding lovingly hand-crafted crocheted bees scattered across campus they could take home and keep, or the sense of solidarity stemming from sitting down and talking to people you haven’t yet met, even if it’s in the name of free pizza.

Image description: a bench with baskets of Christmas cards sat on it, waiting to be filled out

The fact of the matter is this: the world is a routinely better place than it is given credit for, and the vast majority of people are willing to lend an ear or a hand or give change a go for the betterment of this planet we all call home. This is something I learned more than ever while undertaking Carbon Literacy Training alongside a dozen students from all across the university. For a week, we all worked together to answer questions, discuss the environmental impact of our own daily actions, and came up with plans to change our own day-to-day life in ways that would lower our carbon footprint and benefit the environment overall. Not only was it an incredible learning experience, but it was also thoroughly enjoyable and heartening to see such an interest and a willingness to learn.

This is all a very long-winded way of saying a massive thank you to the SGO, and to the person I was a year ago who decided to give it a go despite my apprehension. It’s also a way of encouraging you to take a chance on yourself. The SGO is always open to volunteers or contributors, and new job listings are typically posted at the start of every academic year. The skills and experiences the SGO has left me with will stay with me for years (decades!) to come. I may be a little biased when it comes down to it, but I don’t think there is a better place to work within the university. So if you’re even a little bit intrigued about who we are and what you can do with us, give it a go. You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try.

By Holly Steventon, SGO Project Officer

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