Life of a Global Officer

By Lucy Lavender

For the past academic year, I have had the privilege of undertaking the University of Kent’s GOLD Programme, my first and only extra-curricular activity throughout my four years at Kent. The experience has been enriching and fulfilling, one I would recommend to anyone interested in meeting new people, exploring the international and gaining new skills which will prepare them for the world of work. This post will summarise some of the experiences I have had throughout the programme and reflect on what these have taught me, to give you an insight into what life as a global officer has been like.

The year began with getting to know one another and the start of the workshops. These covered topics like curriculum internationalisation, talking cultures and event management. We worked in teams across zoom to learn about the topics and then put these skills into practice through the likes of planning a fake event, understanding the importance of de-colonising the curriculum and seeing where this could be implemented across the University of Kent, to discussing inter-cultural communication and the types of barriers we may face when talking with one another and how to be sensitive to these and overcome them. My eyes were opened to the international which was right in front of us, playing out in our everyday experiences, learning and talking, these workshops were crucial in making me a greater, more understanding world citizen.

Whilst this began, we started working on more practical projects too, I helped with university open days in the international office, as well as a focus group aiming to help improve university marketing. The most memorable of these projects was with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Within which, students taking part in GOLD were matched with students on a similar programme at UNCC to help them with a project on global citizenship. I was matched with a student and we started emailing, messaging and eventually facetiming where she interviewed me on my thoughts on global citizenship. Somehow, within the midst of an international pandemic, I had managed to make a friend on the other side of the world.

The experience of making connections did not end here, in a separate project, students from Kent worked with the Kent Go Abroad team to make guides for future students going on a year abroad. I teamed up with other students who had gone to Prague on a year abroad and we reflected on our experiences to make a guide for future students. This was another opportunity to make closer connections with other students and in many ways, give back to the Go Abroad team who had helped us so much during our time on our year abroad.

Perhaps, the greatest discovery during my life as a global officer was this, blogging, after only writing a couple throughout my year, it was enough to realise I enjoyed reflecting on my experiences throughout the programme and topics to do with the international in this way. So much so, I would like to continue writing like this after I leave university, whether that be through my own blog, a more journalistic style or writing for others. Without GOLD I would have never came to this conclusion, nor would I have had to opportunity to start these types of projects, so this part of the programme will have a legacy in my life as I move on after my studies.

Balancing my life as a global officer with my university of Kent studies proved it to be an easy task. Being able to pick and choose the parts of the programme I wanted to join in with (as long as it filled up the components required of me) left me to get on with my studies when I needed to and then enriched my learning in periods of less intense deadlines. This style left my life as a global officer very much defined in my own terms, allowing for freedom and flexibility. Having such low pressure on the programme I was left to grow in the areas I felt were weak at the beginning of the year; talking to students and making connections, especially on zoom, began as a challenge. Nevertheless, I have ended the programme feeling confident in my inter-personal skills and my ability to form connections with others. I have equally grown in my understanding of the importance of internationalisation within both my personal life and the wider world, discovering how it is well and truly a topic intertwined within every one of our lives, and thus, an essential part of everyday life.

Looking back, the GOLD programme has given me the opportunity to connect with new people, learn about important social issues and skills for the future. It didn’t consume the rest of my final year studies and was paced on my own terms, joining in with what I wanted at the times I felt I could. Overall, I would recommend to any Kent student to take part in the GOLD programme and urge them to make the most of what the university has to offer for its students.