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“Having barriers should never stop you from doing what you want to do”: Nung’s Story

Posted on 18 February 2022

Nung came to England in 2012, arriving here with her family from Thailand. Settling down in a new country held many challenges for Nung. Aside from not speaking the language, she also faced difficulty settling into a new school environment, which meant getting used to a whole new culture surrounded by lots of unfamiliar faces. She then lost her father Suwit, who sadly died of a stroke in 2016.

Whilst overcoming grief, Nung experienced racism in school and in her fight against bullying she became an anti-bullying ambassador and was awarded with the Princess Diana Award for her ongoing inspiring work. Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, The Diana Award is the most prestigious accolade a young person aged 9-25 can receive for social action and humanitarian work.

Nung is a Care leaver and Part of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Children in Care Council. Councillor Louise Gittins, leader of the council, said…

“Nung is an incredibly inspiring young lady, and the Council are extremely proud of her and what she has achieved over the years. The Council is extremely committed to supporting all of our care leavers and as a local authority we see the role of corporate parent as such an important one in children and young people’s journeys with us.”

When asked why she chose to apply to the University of York, Nung described the unconditional support she felt from the university before even applying. “Every time I read something about the university, it felt genuine, and reminded me of home. I enjoy working here and I’ve been looked after from the very beginning. Having an education plan as well as learning difficulties didn’t stop me from getting a secured place at the university, having the reassurance from York was really helpful.”

Now halfway through her first year of university, Nung has chosen to volunteer with Play Action International. Nung has always been drawn to Africa; it’s beauty, nature, and people have always inspired her to travel, and a desire to help the less fortunate lead her to the Uganda Volunteer Project. She says, “having grown up in a rural, underdeveloped village, I understand how the children feel, not so much what they’re going through, because you can’t compare one situation to another, but I know how much I would’ve appreciated a playground when I was younger”. When asked what she’s most excited about for the project, Nung says “this project will help me make more connections with people from all walks of life. I enjoy constructing things, collaborating with others, and making a positive impact on others. I’d like to improve my interpersonal abilities, and I’m interested in finding out how I may grow both personally and professionally.”

Talking about Play Action, Nung says the charity has held a special place in her heart since she first learned about it, appreciating the passion, pride, and sense of community that it has. “This organisation has offered me unconditional support, advice and direction from the very beginning”, Nung says, “After only a few months with the charity, it has not only supplied me with a family (that’s how fantastic the team here is), I’ve established lifelong friends and built a network of people.”

Financially supported by the University of York’s ‘York Futures Scholarship’, she has the opportunity to do something she never thought would be possible. Nung says, “The financial support has provided me the opportunity to volunteer with PAI, to travel to Uganda, and to improve more lives through play. I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it weren’t for the financial support. I’m proud to say asking for help is the best thing anyone can do. Having barriers should never stop you from doing what you want to do, if you put your mind to something, then grab it with all you have and learn from failing. That’s the greatest lesson you’ll ever learn. Being underrepresented doesn’t mean you should hide, it means you should be proud of how far you’ve come and the battles you’ve had to fight to get to where you are.”

“I would like to say thank you to the universities who are, or are considering, financially supporting Widening Participation students, you are giving to change not only the student’s lives but the lives of the children who can’t even imagine what it’s like to have a playground. You will play a part in creating a legacy of play that will have a huge impact for years to come.”