In The Spotlight: PIN Students Leeds

This week, the Gryphon spoke to one of LUU’s newest societies, PIN (Practical Initiatives Network) Students, founded by President Catarina Tuvagnatti.

What is PIN all about?

PIN is basically a global development themed society. The Practical Initiatives Network is an online platform for development organisations to connect and exchange knowledge, experiences and ideas. It is based on the belief that ‘development works better together’ and that coordination is important, for example when dealing with aid issues such as the Haiti 2010 earthquake. We discuss issues across the massive spectrum of development problems and come up with real practical solutions that can be implemented.

What kind of events do you hold?

PIN mainly focus on raising awareness of issues for people across all kinds of disciplines. Our next event is a ‘Working in Development’ talk, similar to a successful event we ran last year. Members of development organisations come in and talk to us about issues they face and how their practical initiative works, getting a chance to advertise volunteering roles and internships at the same time. On the 25th November, we have the Rosie May Foundation coming in to talk to us about the problem of voluntourism, and they’ll also be offering volunteering opportunities. We also do film screenings so people can learn about social injustice in a relaxed way. Last week, we screened the film “Our Friends at the Bank”, followed by a Q&A with the director of the film. It was about the relations between the World Bank and Uganda before the millennium and was really gritty and insightful. We’re planning on a few more friendly debates for the rest of the year: we really want people to learn from each other and challenge assumptions about development.

What’s in store for the future of PIN?

We’re always looking for new people: we want to talk about issues you care about in an open space and a non-judgemental environment. We attract people of all kinds of backgrounds in terms of degree subject and we welcome international students – the more different perspectives the better. Our plan for the future is to create bigger, better and more thought-provoking events: watch this space.

What makes PIN stand out from the crowd?

PIN have the backing of the Centre of Global Development within the university, and their staff members have been awesome in supporting us and our events. We are really open to collaboration with other societies too, for example working with last years Ebola: Leeds Responds campaign alongside ONE and
POLIS. We’re a really open society – our meetings are all about bouncing ideas off one another to see how we can best create change within the university. We’re all about being interactive and equal: there is no hierarchy in PIN. We endeavour to make people feel comfortable to contribute because any and all development issues are interesting to us and they all need to be highlighted.

What’s planned for PIN’s semester two GIAG?

We’re planning a really interactive session, a team challenge with problem solving around six big themes. We want to challenge you to see who can come up with the best Practical Initiative to really change something in society. The themes could be anything from immigration to social media, racism to sexism. And yes, we will have snacks. We want to have fun and compete for the best solution to a real issue and then summarise with a big, really friendly, open, non-judgemental discussion about global issues and how we can fix them.

Siân Halas

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