oxfam shop with 'book and music' in the window, next to a lush

Working as a volunteer at Oxfam – International student story

Even before I started my current studies at the University of Lincoln, volunteering had already been on my bucket list for my journey in the UK. It is a great way to make use of my time here in Lincoln, get familiarised to British culture, get to know new people and learn from them, all the while working towards a good cause.

I saw Oxfam Bookshop was looking for volunteers while scrolling through the SU website, and immediately applied for the post. I have been to this bookshop before, and right away fell in love with the bright yet cosy atmosphere of the place. Its mission of fighting global poverty through the empowerment of people strongly resonates with me, even more so now that I am doing a module in Education and Social Justice. And selfishly, it has always been my dream to work at a bookstore!

Chi, MA Education student from Vietnam standing outside Oxfam charity shop in Lincoln

Choosing to volunteer at Oxfam Bookshop proves to be one of my best decisions since studying at the University of Lincoln. I have been assigned a variety of tasks, from sorting donations, distributing books, prepping and pricing them to putting them on the shelves, all of which I got to experience just in my first shift. Each shift at Oxfam is an entirely different experience, as I get to sort through new books and be assigned to different genres each day. It is always fun to look through books of various sizes, genres, and time periods. A particular gem I found the other day is a book from 1910, leather bound by Lincoln’s very own Ruddocks & Sons.

Of course, the most precious thing I gain from donating my time at Oxfam Bookshop is being to work with my lovely fellow volunteers. As an international student from Vietnam, this is a unique and valuable experience for me, not only because the overwhelming majority of the volunteers are British, but also because they themselves are an eclectic bunch. We have older volunteers who have retired and are a wealth of stories, and also University students like me or even younger, all of whom are of different backgrounds, interests and experiences. Every Oxfam shift, we get to gather around this huge work table, share our stories and what we have learned, all while enjoying cups of tea and prepping books.

When I am volunteering, I don’t just give back, but feel like I have got back in so many ways too. I am truly grateful for this experience, along with many wonderful others that the university and this beautiful city have continued to offer me and us international students.