A volunteer in the capital of volunteering
Aarhus is the capital of volunteering (Frivillighovedstad) in 2018, starting from the 15th of January. ScienceAtHome cannot stay out from the spirit of such an event, affecting the life of our headquarters' hometown. Upon this occasion, I took the chance to have an informal chat with Shaeema Zaman about the advantages and benefits of being a volunteer.
Shaeema is originally from India and came to Denmark a few months ago. She did her masters in Physics and specialized in Astrophysics at the University of Delhi. She was working in India for five years and turned to the line of communicating science. Finally, it became her area of expertise: whatever topic comes up in science, she is enthusiastic to make it fun, innovative, approachable and interesting for a broader audience.
How did you first hear about ScienceAtHome?
S: “I came to Denmark seven months ago and I was looking for work. I found ScienceAtHome was through press features and social media appearances. I also heard Rajiv V. Basaiawmoit talking about ScienceAtHome and he recommended me to contact Jacob Sherson. He replied me and we found a good common ground between my interests and one of ScienceAtHome’s current project: improving the educational aspect of their games.”
What are you working on here?
S: “I’m trying to give more of an educational perspective to some of the already existing ScienceAtHome games. When the general audience plays the game, it is just a game for them—let it be a 7-year-old, 15-year-old or an elderly adult. They might know some fun facts but I would like to highlight more educational perspectives. When they’re playing the game, they also start asking questions. Are those questions answered in the game? Can they get better in the game by learning the answers to those questions?
Basically, I would like to build a learning track around each game.
I am working on the education menu of the webpage. In the end, the goal is to make that page a place, where the teachers can log in and find material to use the game as an educational tool in their classes. At the same time, this section will be an interesting area for any player who is interested in the science behind the game but he/she does not have a formal science education background. In other words—it will be understandable for everyone from lower high-school level. It is not about high-level science but raising the curiosity and understanding the basics.”
What are the benefits of being a volunteer?
S: “It is a great place to meet new people and build a network since I’m fairly new to Denmark. I don’t know that well yet what organizations are working in the field of communicating science or citizen science. Also, in my job-hunting period, I enjoy keeping my mind occupied, keeping in touch with my field of interest, so I’m not losing focus and drive. It is also easier to approach future job opportunities with more experience and network.”
How was your experience joining this diverse team?
S: “Initially when I started here, the plan was to work from home but this has changed. I’m actually looking forward to coming to this lively environment as often as I can and get more things done here than what I would do at home.
I’m happy to spend my time in the international atmosphere of ScienceAtHome. I tried volunteering at different places before but I don’t know Danish yet. That’s usually a problem but definitely not at ScienceAtHome. I am beginning to get involved in different projects which give me a general sense of belonging.“
Shaeema is staying with us at least for a few more weeks and we are looking forward to seeing the upgrades in the education section of the website!
The Aarhus Frivillighovedstad (Volunteering Capital) year kicks off with a series of events from the 15th of January. Find more information here.
Patricia from ScienceAtHome