Will Patrick studied on the Community Development & Youth Work BA (Hons) programme from 2010 to 2013.
After leaving secondary school, followed by a year at college, I told myself I was never going back to study ever again. After seeing Ruskin in my early twenties and meeting the tutors, it gave me some insight into how further and higher education is approached at the College and it was a degree in Community Development and Youth Work that I became passionate about around that time. Though we had essays due at the end of each term, it was on me and my time to study, which I felt was very flexible. I was also extremely supported by my tutors, whom I felt were there seven days a week if I needed. It was great to study with and meet people with the same passion for youth work and I still feel I have close friends from my time at Ruskin, even though I moved away from the UK.
Throughout the course I got to experience and worked with various youth services, which gave me the confidence, on receiving my degree, to go out and make a positive contribution to wherever I chose to work in that sector.
On starting at Ruskin I had been volunteering for a little over a year at a small charity-funded youth centre in a predominantly white, affluent area. Many of the children I was working with at the time were those labelled as ‘NEET’ in the UK (not in education, employment, or training) and were often getting involved with drugs and into trouble with the police. I only had the skills to work from my own experience or the experience of my colleagues and, working in the town you live and grew up in, unconsciously you may still hold some naive views. Coming to Ruskin enabled me to meet people with similar passions but from diverse cultural backgrounds, and helped me look at the world from many other perspectives.
It was my tutors Bal, MG and Steph who made the course memorable. With each having such diverse and different backgrounds in youth work themselves, they kept lectures interesting and kept me focused and excited each year I was at Ruskin. They offered a diverse range of knowledge for each module and I felt they were as eager to learn from my experiences as I was theirs, something I had not experienced in an education setting before.
I really enjoyed the group project in year 3: we had spent a couple years together as a group building strong relationships and now we got to work together within each other’s youth programme. Experiencing how different organisations worked in that last year of college gave me confidence to go out and make a difference.
Throughout my time at Ruskin I kept up a close relationship with the youth centre I was working at when I started the course. At the time I got offered the job as the NEET Worker, but I found that labelling of young people offensive and asked my manager to change my job title to Youth Opportunities Worker. I always say to people ‘don’t make plans, make options’, and, on leaving Ruskin, I felt like I carried a backpack filled with options. After putting in the time at Ruskin and completing the course in three years I also had the desire to take some time out and travel. Soon after arriving in Australia with my degree and experience I was given a job in youth work here and quickly worked my way into management.
From my education at Ruskin, one of the main focuses of youth work was to see the world through the eyes of the young people you work with. It moved me away from my white western cultural perspective ingrained from childhood education, and shortly after arriving in Australia I became interested in and enjoyed working with young indigenous people. At the time I was working with young people under care of the government and often had conflicting views with government workers and their western world views, due to my time being at Ruskin and working alongside people with diverse cultural backgrounds. I became passionate in learning about indigenous Australia and the effect European settlement and Westernisation has had on this country. I always thought that the oldest living culture of over 80,000 years would know a thing or two more about the world than our couple of hundred years of western sciences, and my experiences since living here have far from proved me wrong.
Australia still holds a strong imperialist white-supremacist patriarchal culture. Even coming here and not being Australian I would be labelled by white Australians as a ‘pom’. However, there are parts of Australia where indigenous culture is still strong and it is here I found a culture that doesn’t judge and wants to make a difference. I have been working for an indigenous organisation in Central Australia and have learnt much about the language group I work with. I have just got a new job as a school co-ordinator here, even though I thought I’d never work alongside the government again. I am excited to go back, with my Ruskin education and the support I received, to make a positive change. None of this would have been possible without Ruskin.