Dr Alexandru Cernat, AIMS volunteer

Dr Alexandru Cernat is an associate professor in Social Statistics at the University of Manchester.

What was your volunteer role at the RSS? 
I was a visiting lecturer at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cameroon (AIMS) where I taught an intensive course in applied statistics using R. 

What did the role involve? 
It involved traveling to Cameroon and teaching a term course over three weeks. In addition to the teaching, I organised office hours, coordinated with the teaching assistants and graded students' work. 

Why did you choose this role? 
During my studies in Romania I learned first-hand the benefits and excitement of learning the latest methods from international experts. In a small way, I wanted to 'pay back' for the great teachers I had by  sharing what I have learned.  

Has the experience been valuable for your professional development? 
I learned quite a bit from this experience, especially regarding teaching statistics. The students at AIMS come from very different backgrounds and have varied levels of ability in statistics and programming. Teaching them forced me to constantly adapt my approach as well as the content covered.  

What have you enjoyed most about your experience? 
The amazing people I have met. From the students that come from all over Africa to the passionate staff and the other visiting lecturers. The fact that we were all living together meant that we got to know each other well.  

What advice would you give to anyone interested in volunteering with the RSS? 
I would say to consider what the things you care about are and then to be pro-active in seeking them out. I think there are a few different ways in& which RSS can help you find volunteering opportunities but it does help to seek them out as well. 

What's next – do you plan to carry on in this role or are you tempted to try other volunteer roles? 
I would love to teach again in Africa and more generally contribute to work done in developing countries.