News / Self Expression and Self Reflection: My Experience at an F&BF Volunteer Speaker Programme

Self Expression and Self Reflection: My Experience at an F&BF Volunteer Speaker Programme



08 / 02 / 22

“When I joined the training, I thought that I would know a lot of what would be covered and was ready to Zoom-multitask. Instead, I was glued to my screen for the whole training. All the activities were thoughtful, practical, and helpful; and hearing from other participants was moving and inspiring.”

 Alejandra Andrade, our Education & Learning Kickstarter, discusses her experience attending a Volunteer Speaker Training Session.

The Faith & Belief Forum strives to model its aims both within the organisation, as well as in its outward facing work, and therefore promotes the development and training of its staff. This January a group of staff had the opportunity to attend a Volunteer Speaker Training, a session typically attended by volunteers who want to participate in our School Speaker Programme (part of School Workshops). This programme takes speakers, who come from a wide range of backgrounds and identities, into schools to share their lived experience of faith and belief so that students can ask questions, develop understanding, and encounter different people that may not usually have the chance to.  

Being a new addition to the Education and Learning team, this was immensely beneficial as I came out of the training feeling much more prepared and integrated in the organisation. Through the use of activities, we looked at personal growth and mindfulness, and it allowed me to reflect upon them.

We learnt techniques to skilfully communicate and share our beliefs, values, and experiences and created either a  primary school story or a secondary school story. We also had some time as a group to share our first drafts of our stories – it was such a beautiful moment where we spoke of what was important to us, our cultures, faith, beliefs, and traditions and to see the impact that our stories had on others. I would describe the experience as curious, eye-opening, and valuable. Another participant in the group said this was a “Great experience where I was able to express myself and understand feelings and insights well enough to feel confident to apply in future scenarios.” 

I really enjoyed an activity where we drew a tree –  its roots, its branches and its leaves, all represented facets of our identity. Its purpose, to understand our core values –  things that are important to us and how we put these into practice in our day-to-day life. I found the activity to be very eye opening as it gave a sense of accountability for oneself. I realised we should not only list qualities we think we have such as ‘I am kind, loyal,’ etc, but actually think; how do we carry this out in our day to day lives? Could we improve and if so, how?  

Another activity involved looking at some controversial statements and discussing how helpful or unhelpful they were in opening interfaith dialogue. The more unskilful the statement was, the more we judged it to be lower on the scale towards unhelpful, however it was interesting to see how many statements are also subjective to perspective. For example, we recognised that not having all the information, not knowing the person’s tone, and not knowing the context of the statements meant that navigating skilful interfaith dialogue was not always clear cut. I particularly enjoyed how we gave suggestions in our break-out groups for how these statements might be more agreeable in an interfaith environment with a simple change in the choice of words. It serves as a reminder that one must always be mindful of what they say and how another might understand and interpret a comment or statement.  

I also noticed the overlap with the Education & Learning Team’s Online Resources, in particular the KS2 and KS3 Oops and Ouch lesson plans. It was nice to see how key F&BF methodology is integrated across the organisation’s programming/pops up across the organisation’s different programmes. 

The speaker training is valuable to staff and volunteers as it helps develop skills in skilful interfaith communication, public speaking, confidence, and growth. I felt this was an amazing opportunity to help educate, unite us, and celebrate our differences, as well as our common interests. These sessions helped us to understand one another’s perspective and to broaden our own. Experiencing people’s culture, faith, or beliefs by hearing what is important to them. This is a privilege that should be enjoyed by everyone in every workplace for a more integrated and accepting society.  

You can find more about our School Speaker Programme here and you can apply to be a Volunteer School Speaker here.

At the Faith & Belief Forum we want to hear from our supporters and keep improving programmes, events and other opportunities. Please take some time to fill out this survey, to give us a better idea of what you think of F&BF.

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