Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers have been at the forefront of community and societal responses. This week, we talk to fellow Fronton Sarah Jay, who works at Publishing Development department, about her volunteering work with Peace Boat Disaster Relief, an organization that assists disaster-affected people by strengthening disaster resilience of communities.
What is your background and role at Frontiers?
“My background is actually in the humanities with a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Sheffield. But I did a fair amount of work on open access publishing and joined Frontiers in March 2021 as a publishing development assistant. I provide support to the journal teams in their strategic and promotional plans. I also work in the fee support office.”
What does the organization you volunteered for do?
“Peace Boat Disaster Relief is an international NGO based in Japan. They provide help to disaster-affected people and strengthening communities’ disaster resilience both locally and around the world. For example, the work I did was centered around the consequences of the typhoon in Vietnam. They work with a lot of local organizations related to these disaster-affected communities on their needs for supplies, training, risk reduction and disaster mitigation measures. Ultimately, they cover an awful lot of bases at quite a grass-roots level.”
What was your personal motivation for choosing Peace Boat Disaster Relief?
“Last year we all saw Australia’s bush fires in the news but then they fell off the radar because of COVID-19. However, these other problems don’t just stop. They carry on, aid is still needed to mitigate natural disasters. Local issues get overlooked because of big international crises, you don’t hear as much about the on-going relief projects. As I previously worked on proofreading and editorial projects before joining Frontiers, I felt strongly about applying my skills to help communicate messages from people who are doing that local field work to people and countries at a global level.”
What exactly did you do as part of your skill-sharing?
“Peace Boat Disaster Relief prepared a project report around the work conducted in relief of floods across Vietnam and field work they did between December 2020 and March of this year. I provided light to moderate structural editing on the report, improving its English fluency while making sure the original messaging was kept. I stayed in touch with the author of the report, who did the field work herself, and tried to align it with the workflow of other reports the NGO was releasing around the same time.”
Any particular difficulties that you faced?
“I would say the biggest difficulty was trying to understand the subject. Obviously, I did my research in preparation for the assignment, but I do not pretend to be an expert in disaster relief. I was conscious not to change the meaning of what was said. And the person I worked with was very supportive and helpful.”
What did you learn from the experience?
“Potentially, and this is something I haven’t considered before, I would love to work in the field at some point in my career. The experience has opened my eyes to the amount of work done at such a local level. I think it would be great to be in a support role on the ground in Japan or elsewhere. I am definitely hoping to continue the relationship with Peace Boat Disaster Relief and see how I can help.”
The next time we speak to Sarah, she might be talking to us in Japanese!
For more than a decade, Frontons have been showing a great passion and big heart for the most pressing world causes, both as scientists and as citizens of the world. At Frontiers, we are committed to contributing to communities in a meaningful and sustainable way and encourage our people to participate in charity activities via our volunteering partner platform Alaya.