Just over a year ago, I remember going on Facebook and seeing a post advertising for a position called ‘Youth Advisory Board Member’ with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, otherwise informally known as NUCoL. Little did I know I would still be here in the role, with most of the same people I started with, and continue on a year later. Within two weeks I remember receiving an e-mail from the then director, Sandeep, saying I had been accepted. Sometime between my mother gleefully cheering over the phone about how proud she was of me that I had gotten the role, and attending my first meeting, a welcome package arrived. One year on, I can gladly say I am so happy I applied and even more grateful to be a part of a wonderful team as we get to discuss and explore Nottingham’s literary history in great detail.

A meeting would usually entail an update of what we have to do and where we currently are. The meetings have been mostly fun. For me, they started online, so whenever the time came, I would stick my camera on and see everyone on screen. Gradually we started having the meetings in person and this was so much more enjoyable for me because we got to see each other in person, hug and have proper discussions. It just felt so surreal the first time it happened, but we got used to it. Moreover, when we got together in person, dinner (pizza) was usually ordered for us and that was a huge bonus.

It has been a pleasure meeting some of the most extraordinary people. Connor and Joe. Name a more iconic duo? I love the way Abi is super friendly and it is amazing watching her take this Youth Board Team from strength to strength despite still being in high school. The rest of the team are super friendly as well and it is always good being with them in person.

My most recent task was being a judge for the Nottingham Poetry Festival and as much as it was rewarding, it was also super challenging because all the poems were so wonderful and unique. It was just that hard to pick one winner! I have been able to improve performing live through performing with the other members of the YAB at the Nottingham Playhouse, pay better attention to my writing, and learn how important it is to be proud of one’s creativity during my time here and I cannot wait to hopefully take that even farther.

Justyna and Zach

Something that is still mind-blowing to me about NUCoL is how the organisation has connections with everything and everyone. This realisation came to me during my second-year placements with Rory Waterman and James Walker. Working for them was a dream because they were both so helpful and friendly and introduced me to Nottingham’s multi-dimensional literary history, and continuously broadened my perspectives of it. Further along the line, I discovered that my good friend Justyna (currently in Nepal), a recent marketing graduate, who also got the chance to work for NUCoL. Me and Justyna met on a Nottingham Trent University program called WRAP (Writing, Reading and Pleasure). Little did I know I would have the pleasure of being close friends with Justyna to this day. NUCoL truly has a weird, wonderful way of bringing people closer together or somehow reunited.