Neuropsychology PhD Student

SLVeteran Leanne

Education: Psychology - University of Bangor, UK 

SLV.Global Placement: Graduate Mental Health Placement, January 2016

Current Role: After my placement I continued travelling for a little while, before returning home a few months later. As I live in North Wales there are very few Psychology related posts, I therefore worked as a 999 call handler for the Ambulance Service whilst I applied for PhD funding.

I have since been awarded funding to carry out a PhD at Bangor University. This clinically-based PhD is focused upon developing and evaluating an intervention to improve emotion regulation in patients with brain injury.

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: I volunteered on the Graduate Mental Health Programme in Sri Lanka, in January 2016. My experience was beyond amazing and I did not anticipate that I would learn so much about myself in the process.

Firstly, Sri Lanka is a very special Country, from the landscape to the food and the people. My homestay "Amma" made me feel like part of the family, and it was incredibly humbling to feel such warmth and welcome. I met some incredible people, including the national staff, that will always have a special place in my heart.

I had expected that the mental health placements would be the main source of learning and intellectual engagement for me, but this was not the case. I particularly enjoyed the day running activities at a Youth Detention Centre. These young men and boys evidently enjoyed the day of team building and sports that we had set up for them, and it was sometimes challenging to keep activities running smoothly as they were so boisterous! The teaching placements were also very rewarding, I enjoyed getting creative with lesson planning and different ways students could improve their English. My favourite placement was a community teaching project, where the main aim was to improve their confidence in spoken English. Every week we played different games to build their skills and confidence. I had so much fun, and felt like I was genuinely making a difference when I could see their abilities and confidence growing.

Of the many things that my SLV.Global experience has given me, it has given me a vast appreciation for the warmth, richness and acceptance of other cultures. By going out of my comfort zone, planning and leading classes or activities, I have developed so much self-confidence.

Volunteering in a developing country has helped shaped my development, both personally and professionally, and SLV.Global is such an ethical and professional organisation to do it with.

It is important to note, however, that you get out what you put in. It is definitely worth throwing yourself into the experience and not taking a back seat. That rewarding feeling is so worth it.

Tell us what you gained from the placement: Resilience and resourcefulness. It helped me understand that you can do so much with limited resources, and even when there are communication barriers there are ways to increase understanding.

I have learned so much about myself, that I can adapt in new and challenging situations, and that there is so much to be gained by being willing to try new things.

Lastly, I learned that some of the best things you can gain by experiences such as this, are not tangible things, or extra points on your CV, but the way it makes you feel, and that is simply worth it.