Bringing history to life through volunteering
Carlos Soares told the National Trust Magazine how volunteering at Nuffield Place the former home of car manufacturer William Morris, has allowed him to improve his English, and pursue his love of history and caring for fascinating objects.
When I moved to the UK three years ago, I didn’t know many people and didn’t feel confident using the language. I spent a lot of time trying to understand the culture and improve my English.
I saw that Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire, was looking for volunteers I thought it would be the perfect way to understand more about British culture as I love history and interior design.
I volunteer every week as part of the house conservation team, helping to clean the house and look after the objects so visitors can enjoy them. It’s very special to be in the house
before visitors arrive because you feel a part of it.
During opening hours, I work as a tour guide and explain the history of the house and what we do to preserve it. What I enjoy most about it is the chance to make history real. It’s so important to look after the objects in the house because they show how life has changed.
" We can tell new generations about history through the objects we look after."
I tell children about the old telephone, for example, and how you’d have to wait for a line and sometimes need an operator.
People often share their experiences with me, too – how they used the objects and where they’ve seen them before.
Every visitor has different questions and accents and I have to reply quickly, which has helped improve my English as well as my knowledge about the history of the house.
This article was first published in the National Trust Autumn Magazine 2017.