Read an inspiring testimonial from Ben, one of our young volunteers

Read an inspiring testimonial from Ben, one of our young volunteers, who attended the Young Scotland Programme as a delegate of ELREC

I was fortunate to be accepted to attend the Young Scotland Programme this month as a delegate of ELREC. The Young Scotland Programme is for young people at the early stages of their careers to develop public speaking and communication skills, helping to build confidence and expose them to new perspectives and ideas.

The Programme takes place over the course of a few, rather intense days. First we split off into our assigned groups for working on a group presentation before discussing the news of the day. Following this we had our speaking sessions where members of the group would come up to present their argument papers, giving a speech about an issue that they were passionate about. This was interspersed with ‘90 second challenges’, where we were required to speak for 90 seconds without notes on a topic of your choice (which is easier said than done). The days were long, and going up to speak was nerve-racking, but it felt really good to speak about the need for economic democracy, a personal belief I hold passionately.

However, the arguments and challenges were not the only events. We were fortunate to have testimonials from a renowned political economist (whom I happen to regard as an academic hero of mine) and a North Korean escapee-turned-activist, talking about their experiences and how they overcame hardship to get to where they are today. Both testimonials were really interesting and inspiring. We also had a debate on the possibility of future peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which was the most respectful and unifying discussion of the topic I have been able to participate in.

Ben with other participants in the Young Scotland Programme 2023

Naturally, we were all nervous about presenting our arguments because public speaking was none of our strengths – otherwise we wouldn’t have been there – but as time went on, we all got to know each other and had some practice, it felt so much more comfortable than it was at the beginning. There was definitely a strong contrast between our nervous initial introductions to the chaotic joy of the group presentations which saw a rather modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, an improvised and dramatic forward roll that caught everyone by surprise, and Robert the Bruce brandishing a real sword (though sadly not all in the one presentation). By the end of the week, we had all bonded and learned a great deal.

Personally, I found the Young Scotland Programme a fantastic and valuable experience. While I had given a big public speech before, it was only the once and I had since taken a major blow to my mental health and confidence. The Programme gave me the opportunity to not only gain more experience in the valuable skill of public speaking, but I also able to regain some of my lost confidence while meeting so many wonderful people. As such, it will remain a cherished experience and I am very grateful both to ELREC and the Young Scotland Programme for giving me the opportunity to attend.

read more about the Young Volunteering Programe

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