As the new term kicks into gear, we learn more about what our graduates are up to these days. Today, we catch up with Kirsty Hart, who graduated with a first-class degree in German and Hispanic Studies in June 2016.
Today, I find myself in my fourth month working as an Anti-Trafficking Outreach Case Worker at an organisation called City Hearts. This job may not be what people expect you to go into after a languages degree, but I was simply pursuing my passions and what interested me.
My job role is to support victims of human trafficking adapt to life in the UK, by means of connecting them to local health services, legal representation, local communities and colleges. This reduces their vulnerability and also the risk of them being re-trafficked. I believe that my degree in German and Hispanic studies taught me many invaluable skills, such as organization, time management, independence and cultural awareness and sensitivity, which I am certainly utilizing on a day-to-day basis.
As well as these skills, I believe that my year abroad played a vital role in preparing me for my current job. When planning my year abroad, I was very grateful for the freedom to pursue work placements in any which field, as long as we were practising the target language.
So, for the first half of the year, I went to Nicaragua and volunteered in a residency for teenage mothers in recovery from human trafficking. Following that, I interned with Mission Freedom in Germany, which consisted of working in a safe house for victims of human trafficking. Not only did these placements allow me to build my CV and develop in-depth knowledge of the field in which I work now, but living abroad also opened my eyes to new experiences.
I think one of the biggest frustrations when living abroad was negotiating with local authorities and services. As a foreigner, I found myself becoming easily confused and often doubting myself when trying to navigate the foreign systems- especially in a different language. This is something that I recognise in my clients as well. They will often come to dead ends when liaising with authorities, as, like I was on my year abroad, they find themselves lost in translation and doubting themselves.
I am not at all able to relate to my clients and the horrific suffering that they have endured: however, I do believe that my year abroad does allow me to understand the cultural challenges that they face on a daily basis. As a result, this has ignited a passion in me for helping these women to navigate the British systems, and encouraging them to believe that they are fully capable of building a successful, independent life in the UK.