Jewish Museum London is operating as a museum without walls, as we work towards a new permanent home. In the meantime you can find us in a range of places, both in person and online.

#VolunteersWeek – Introducing Shannon and Yasmin

Shannon

Shannon has been volunteering for under a year. She first thought of
volunteering because she wanted to gain new experiences. “I’m going to study history at university so it seemed the perfect fit.
It’s interesting to know what happened in the past and to learn about different
cultures. I didn’t know much about Jewish culture but I learnt from the
galleries.”

Shannon’s older sister also volunteers here – it was her who encouraged
her to give it a go and now they volunteer together in the shop every Sunday
afternoon. 

“In the shop you get to
interact with people more than in the galleries. Sometimes people tell you
about their life experiences and I’m really interested in things like that.
Its interesting interacting with the
public, you get to meet all sorts of people and unexpected things happen so you
learn to deal with different situations.”

Shannon’s favourite thing about volunteering is the atmosphere, “It’s a relaxed atmosphere here. I enjoy
helping people in the shop, it’s enjoyable and doesn’t seem like a struggle.”

When asked what volunteering has taught her, Shannon replied, “You learn how to deal with difficult
situations, something that can help you in the future. Initially I was nervous
that I wasn’t very good at interacting with people but I learnt that I can do
it and that I enjoy it too.”

Her top tips of being a volunteer is, “Don’t
be nervous, it’s not as difficult or scary as you think!”

When Shannon
first started another volunteer advised her to read up about on particular
artefact to comfortably know about one specific thing. She recommends that too;
she chose to read up about the poet, translator and activist, Nina Salaman (below).

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Next year Shannon will start university and plans to continue volunteering
while studying. After her degree she is hoping to train as a solicitor.

Yasmin

Yasmin, Shannon’s sister, has volunteered for almost 4 years now. “I always loved museums and wanted work
experience in a museum. I saw an advert for the re-opening of the Jewish Museum
in a newspaper and came to volunteer shortly after.”

Yasmin (below, centre) is now finishing her second year of university, studying Russian and
History. “The main thing I like is all
the people who volunteer with me – it’s a really nice environment; it’s really
relaxed. It’s also nice interacting with people and
talking to them when they leave, seeing how their visit went.”

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Her favourite object in the collection is, “The Russian Vapour baths sign. It’s a bit of Russia is the middle of
London.” Yasmin will spend next year in Russia as part of her degree and
plans to write about the immigration of Russian Jews, a project inspired by her
time volunteering at the museum.

She feels she’s learnt a lot in her time volunteering. “I’ve learnt how to interact with people. And learnt about myself too.
I was really shy when I started and being here made me come out of my shell and
talk to people. And it’s because of my experience here that I went on to get a
paid job at a bigger museum, as a gallery assistant at the V&A. It can
be intimidating working in a big museum like the V&A but I felt prepared
for it because of my time at the museum.”

Yasmin’s top tips for volunteering are: “Try
to volunteer as regularly as you can. The more you’re here, the more you get to
know the museum, the collection and what you like in the collection. And also
you get to know the people you’re working with so you can be a team.”

Next year Yasmin will be living in St Petersburg and Moscow. She plans to find
a similar voluntary role in a Russian museum and would like a
career that combines her love of museums and Russian in the future.

Yasmin won The Special Youth award
for volunteers under 25 in the heritage sector, at the London Volunteers in Museums Awards in 2012.

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