Wessex Scene interviews Chang Lian for the role of VP Communities & Volunteering in the Spring 2018 Union Elections.
Why have you decided to run for the role of VP Communities & Volunteering?
I decided this by my own experience. One is that I have been running for society chairman for a long time. In my undergraduate period, in my own school or when I wasn’t around here, I have a successful manager experience. Sometimes I think of if people want to choose confident leader, it at least must be me.
How would you integrate societies better with, not just the Students’ Union, but with each other?
In my opinion, I think that Students’ Union would be a leader of other societies, to make them strong and make them be better. The societies have communication about the Union. The Union should be like a father to their own children – that gives them strong support when they need something and help them when they have some confusion. They can lead them in the right directions.
What are the main issues with the current role and how would you address them?
Each term we have the Freshers’ Fair and always, the first of semester is huge and is more important. Many people will queue and want to join the societies. In semester two, maybe people have turned their interests so not many people join in. Some people always ask me, because I have joined many societies in our school and I have a wide interest in other societies, if they sometimes feel lonely or down they want to join some societies but they don’t know which society they would like to join. Sometimes some people don’t have the special interest to the societies and don’t know what really is there. Sometimes, because people want to exercise themselves and join a sports society, they don’t know about that. We need to advertise to all the students so people can know what they are really interested in and make their interests to make a better situation so they can join into the societies that they are better interested in.
What are the main issues with this role currently and how would you tackle them?
And also belong to this problem, I have some solutions to this. We can make a timetable to all the societies when they can have some activities – not only just tasters. The members of other societies can have meetings to each other so they integrate with other societies. For example, the basketball society can have some meetings with the soccer societies and they can communicate with each other and team other members their new technologies and known skills and they can make friends with each other.
You’ve talked about this already but can you talk about it more. What relevant experience do you have?
In my undergraduate period, I held a speech content that all the University students joined in. That is one successful contest which you might hear on the local TV station and the newspapers writers interviewed our speech content. Many students gained a lot of speech experience from our society and we have a firm connection with the local speech societies and local TV and radio stations. Also, I helped in work for several years before I came to our University. My work was just writing essays and plan activities to companies activities.
So I not only have the experience to run a successful society, but also I have the experience to run successful company activities.
If you were elected, what would be the 3 most important objectives for you?
The first one I will do is have international students integrate into local communities. Some people feel that they are lonely when they are far from home and their own country and hometown. I think the University is a new experience to everyone’s life. When they first arrive here, they like to make more friends and know their deep inner peace more. SUSU is just like a father and our societies is his children, so that when students feel upset they can seek help from SUSU. Our societies are a warm family and we can have each other. When people want to seek help, they can go to societies. They are not only society members but good friends.
The second thing I will do is let students understand Uni culture about societies. We will have a firm connection to each other so we can do some dating and meeting of society members. I know someone had found their life partner during their student life. It’s more important that we can know ourselves and know much about each other and to give a warm hand to people around you. (Not sure I got all of this right)
The third thing is to make a timetable of all society active times, to make a balance between student studies and activities. The timetable means that when a society has taster sessions or classes, they are not only shown on the SUSU calendars but can have a billboard of the societies so when people want to find a society’s newest activities, they can find it on the campus.
You mentioned that you’ve developed your association into thousands of members. What relevant skills do you think this has given you?
The first is obviously the leadership, the communication to other people and organization of the activities – to plan, to run and to operate activities. I can have a good relationship with all the society members. I think the special person can do the special thing and all people are unique. They have their own advantages in each society so I just let some people that have an advantage for making sponsorships, I can ask them to do that. Some people have an advantage of writing essays so we have a specific place to let them write their essays for local papers. My biggest advantage is that I can easily find someone’s really important, shiny points and their advantages. In modern society, we can use our own advantages to do things well and our lives will be better.
How do you think your teaching of Mandarin will help you in this role?
Some people cannot speak their own language fluently. Some Chinese people have fear to communicate with strangers and have fear to speak in public and what they think in their own mind. They are ashamed to speak of themselves. I think when you want people to like you and accept you, you need to let people know you and therefore you must talk to people and have conversations with people and speak of yourself. Training mandarin is to help raise people raise their confidence and make their speech more logical. I can think more about others in their positions – I can deal with complex situations, people’s relationships. Through this experience, I will be stronger. I really felt happiness when I talk to people and correct their grammar. I think we can do better things than our imagination. Our slogan is ‘Be strong, be happy, be friends.’
To find out more about Chang Lian’s aims, read her personal statement here