This summer, St Andrews students are uniquely placed to save the world
At risk of coming across as the sort of commentator that one would reply “ok boomer” to in a repugnantly toxic Facebook comment section; it really is the young, fit, and healthy — that’s us — that can find out those old bootstraps from the loft and pull ourselves, and our country, nay our world, up from underneath us.
Hear me out, we’re really not that useless as a generation (shocking, I know). This has been shown in no uncertain terms in our reaction to this recent crisis. While others stacked bog rolls on high, us students quietly relocated with very little notice, oftentimes across the globe, and calmly carried on with our work in what is easily the largest global crisis since the Second World War. Students, especially the St Andrean, have been espousing the “Keep Calm and Carry On — with all six upcoming deadlines” spirit.
Why does this mean that we can save the world I hear you ask? Because, although at the moment it may not seem like it, the end of the year isn’t that far away. In just a couple of weeks we will be left with nought to do but twiddle our thumbs. For me anyway, this just won’t do. The summer holiday is generally not an idle time for many a St Andrean. However, for many, myself included, it’s beginning to look like it just might. With internships, placements, and part-time jobs firmly down the toilet, many of us might be questioning what we should do. The answer? Save the world. In Britain alone, food shortages over the summer are an ever-looming threat. There is a present and real risk that thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables may well lie spoiled in the fields of Britain in the months to come. With the entire summer on our hands, we’re perfectly placed to plug the gap.
Do it out of spite if nothing else. Imagine the sense of pride you’d get the next time Uncle Terry comes around to castigate you for not knowing what hard graft is, and you promptly remind him that, while he was doing nought but sunning himself in the garden, you were out getting stuck in and your hands dirty, who’s the useless one now?
I know, I know. This imagined inter-generational conflict isn’t really helpful and I apologise to any Uncle Terrys out there, but my point still stands: we have a summer at our disposal, many of us need money, and there’s hundreds of people out there desperate to be paying people a wage. It doesn’t have to be fruit picking and you don’t even have to be doing contracted work to be doing your bit: it can be delivering goods in your community, volunteering for medical services, working with foodbanks, online tutoring, and much more. Efforts from our own Students’ Association, as well as a multitude of organisations online, have made it easier than ever before to get involved with something.
If you’re rightfully concerned or nervous about going out, then a lot of good can be done online in the comfort of your own home. Online tutoring is something very accessible and easy-to-do for many of us with the technology available at our fingertips. From personal experience, MyTutor is the simplest platform to tutor for and get paid, but simply offering to lend a hand with tutoring in your local community for free will give you plenty to do and plenty of fantastic experience. Without a shadow of a doubt, it would likely be invaluable to many parents sick to death of Pythagorean angles and studying Of Mice and Men for a bright, university educated student to ease their burden.
As well as being a service to millions, one side-note worth mentioning is that it wouldn’t be totally selfless to get involved either. Putting in a hard-day’s slog can be one of the most worthwhile things one can do: the sensation of the worthwhile beer and a shower once you reach home, I can say from personal experience, is truly fantastic — and, a healthy pay-packet at the end of the month doesn’t hurt either. As well as this, valuable skills are on offer. Perfect for CV fodder, working during this time of crisis and panic can be described as showing steel and formidable spirit. Desirable qualities then for that middle-management grad scheme you’ve got your eyes on, even if your sole motivation is in fact the astronomical cost of the Nintendo Switch.
Of course, this isn’t going to apply to everybody, there will be those out there for whom this terrible mess has affected them so dearly. There will be those out there whose anxiety or despair cripples them and who daren’t even think about making such moves. This is okay, I too have struggled with this. There are those who are physically unable to do such things at the best of times, and so doing them at the worst of times is unthinkable. This too is totally okay, not being productive at this time is more than understandable.
Don’t just take my word for it either. If you don’t believe me that we can save the world, hear it from Jamie Rodney:
“A big enough choir can hold an impossibly long note, because each individual singer can drop out when their voices get tired. We’re in a similar kind of situation now — all of us are under pressure, some more than others, and all of us have different capacities to help. If everyone does what they can, then we’ll come out of this crisis in a much better shape than we would otherwise.”
So, I urge you if you’re able, in this time of need (and opportunity): Don’t dwell in your bunkers, allowing the shame of the seventh Netflix series in as many days consume you, or letting your facial hair to grow out of control, or watching your love handles grow and spill over. Use this summer wisely. Help the most vulnerable. Feed your country. Save the world.
If you would like more information about how you can get involved, here are some useful links:
Farming and Agriculture:
https://www.scotland.lantra.co.uk/skills-matching-service – Lantra skills matching service
https://www.britishsummerfruits.co.uk/jobs – List of seasonal jobs in fruit picking
https://www.volunteerscotland.net/covid-19/ – COVID-19 Community volunteering portal in Scotland
https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS – COVID-19 Volunteering in England – note, recruitment is currently temporarily paused but will resume, check the website for more details.
https://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/ – Royal Voluntary Service for UK Volunteers