Amy Lee Tempest is a first year literature and creative writing student at UCLan. She will be working with the project over a ten week period as part of a research internship. Amy will be learning about the project’s aims and objectives, research methods and assisting with the running of the project.
Here she blogs about her experience during this time and writes about the progress of the project so far – though the eyes of an intern.
I was thrilled with the news that I had been successful in applying for an undergraduate research internship for the Summer period – especially considering the post-interview doubts I had such as ‘am I skilled enough?’ and ‘should I have worn the other shirt?’! I had really wanted the position as soon as I had read the short blurb advertising it, but it was looking around this website that really sold the idea of being a part of the project to me.
As a student of literature and creative writing, I love anything to do with stories. As a former counsellor, I am interested in the therapeutic value of telling personal stories through creative writing. And S2C seems to fuse together those two interests…plus a whole lot more!
My first week was busy with inductions, introductions and getting organised. I first attended an induction event. Gathered in one lecture theatre were all of the under graduate research interns at UCLan for 2016. There was a lot of mention about ‘research aims’, ‘setting goals’ and ‘advancing human knowledge’. There was also talk about ‘career aspirations’ and it was the first time that I began to fully understand what a research internship actually was and the great – and slightly scary – opportunity I had been given.
Despite the amount of research essays I’ve written for literature, research for me still meant numbers, statistics and charts. It was hard to classify my research area as it seemed to encompass so much but I placed it in the ‘community arts’ sector and felt quite proud when describing the ‘Stories to Connect With’ project aim. But in terms of understanding the ‘research’ side of the project I was still a little lost.
Meeting with Candice later that day helped me to clearer see the role of research within the project, where in the projects process they currently were and how I might be able to help it progress. Through discussing the aims and objectives, and viewing the projects timeline, I started to understand the research area. Yet Candice was keen to highlight that there is an amount of fluidity to this type of research and that a lot of the work needs to allow for a natural and organic growth. The work would be varied and the role flexible, involving research with the young people; adding to the literature research;
working through material already collected and ideas on how to progress; social networking; website updates and blogging.
As I am joining the project almost half way through the designed process, a lot of my time in the beginning is going to be spent familiarising myself with the work that has happened before me. It is interesting work to see the process so far and the ideas and research that has driven it forward. I was starting to see that it would be a lot of lone ‘working behind the scenes’ of the project and staff meeting, punctuated with high energy group workshops where I would see the project in action. Another, less exciting, part of my internship at the beginning was to complete staff training and become more tech savvy – it was time to upgrade my pen and paper to a laptop and internet connection.
I had my first taste of the projects workshops with the core group of young people involved which put me right at the heart of the project. It was fast paced, lively but still somehow a calming environment to be in. Seeing the project in action was the best way for me to learn. We played a game to help us remember each others name which was a fun way for me to be introduced to the group and it was nice to see some of the group had taken to ‘helping the new women out’ giving me hints to everyone’s name.
The group seemed friendly, well connected and fun. I was even invited to sit with some of the young people during meal time! Having time ‘one to one’ helped me gain a better understanding of where the project was up to and realise that each person were at different points. I also began to see that each person would be creating something unique to them at their own pace and the importance of allowing the ‘one to ones’ to be led by the young person.
At the end of the meeting each person was asked to describe the meeting in a word or two. Everyone contributed, everyone listened to each other and most struggled to choose just one or two words as they had much more to say. Words such as ‘fantastic’ and ‘amazing’ were used a lot around the room and there were many smiley faces, including my own. My two words? ‘Creative energy’. ‘Creative’ because I had felt inspired by the conversations with the young people and the example of the story which one member had helped create (read out by Candice to the group). The story summed up for me perfectly the projects aims in action. ‘Energy’ because I felt energised by the group’s respect for each other, openness and fast-paced-task-orientated energy. It seemed like the perfect group atmosphere for young people to join and feel safe enough to create, and also for a new internship like myself to feel welcomed.