Student placement supports new My Place Workshops

In this short blog, hear from our student placement Yan about her recent work supporting our My Place Photography Workshops with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.


Hi, my name is Yan and I am currently pursuing a postgraduate programme in Museum Studies at the University of Glasgow. I’ve always believed that every artefact and piece of heritage has a story to tell. However, history can feel distant until it resonates meaningfully with people, bringing it to life and giving it value. This belief fueled my interest in connecting history and culture with individuals, leading me to apply for a work placement at the Scottish Civic Trust (SCT). The Trust’s numerous community collaborations, which realise the potential of heritage in diverse ways, intrigued me. Additionally, coming from China, a country with a vastly different social and cultural environment from the UK, I saw this as an opportunity to understand the workings of non-profit cultural organisations in the UK.

What was my placement about?

The main project I participated in was the ‘My Photography Workshops’ series, designed to help young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds explore Scotland’s cultural heritage. The workshops enabled and empowered participants to visit heritage sites like the V&A Museum in Dundee and the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh and interpret them through photography.

I joined one of these workshops at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, which was a revelatory experience. As a participant, I explored the building alongside the young people and shared photographic perspectives with them. Witnessing their excitement and seeing their unique angles and excellent light compositions was eye-opening. It showed me how heritage can be reinterpreted through fresh eyes and how heritage can help new residents in Scotland connect with their surroundings.

What tasks did I do as part of my placement?

During my work placement, one key task involved creating a slideshow for the My Place ceremony, which celebrates community-led built environment projects, community champions and young people’s photos of their local places. This task highlighted the importance of meticulous attention to detail – from sentence formation to word choice – mirroring the precision required in community and cultural heritage work.

Additionally, we created an online exhibition for the young people’s photographs. This required comparing and analysing various online photo platforms. Considering factors like budget, ease of use and compatibility, we recommended StoryMaps. Learning about this software and developing an exhibition template was a great opportunity to acquire new skills and apply them in a practical setting.

This work placement also provided insight into some of SCT’s past or ongoing community projects, like the oral history programme with African and Caribbean Elders in Scotland (ACES). I was amazed by SCT’s ability to engage communities and link resources effectively, despite its small size. I realised the necessity of diverse skills in small organisations, including event organisation, writing, and communication.

What did this internship mean to me?

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the Scottish Civic Trust. Despite the cultural and social differences, I discovered that some fundamental values, such as the empowering potential of diverse and inclusive approaches to heritage, are universal. This realisation gives me confidence that the concepts and skills I have acquired here will be valuable in my future work in the heritage sector in China.