Your dash of doing good!

Looking for your weekly dash of doing good? 

Well, you have come to the right place! Our epic Volunteer Army Activator team each week recap all things Volunteer Army. They share their experiences, the highs and lows of 2020 and what it means to them to be a part of the Volunteer Army community. 

Each week our team chat about something a little different, about doing good, and giving back. So sit back, relax, grab your cuppa and get your dash of doing good!

Doing good from a distance.

- Deepika

Term 2 has been quite the rollercoaster. With motivation levels taking the plunge every now and then, we’ve somehow managed to pull through. As term comes to an end, I'm reflecting on our ‘Good Deed Days’ event in Week 7. It was probably the highlight of my term, besides Frankie the fox. 

It was such a fulfilling experience as I got to be a part of an initiative that contributed towards making an impact in the community. 

Besides the wonderful opportunities offered in this week-long event, I absolutely loved the fact that almost all the events were online. This gave a chance to volunteers stuck in different parts of the world to come together for a cause. 

I was even able to co-host an event for participants mostly in Australia while sitting in India!

To share some of my personal experiences, it was my first time conducting an online session, and I was extremely nervous. However, my incredible team were very supportive, and I loved volunteering with you all. Good Deed Days was such a learning experience and I can’t wait for all of you to be a part of them in the next term. 

Wishing you all the best for the upcoming exams! 

-Deepika

Volunteering, part time work and internships. How do they compare?

- Linh

Why do you spend time volunteering instead of finding a part time job or an internship, that's more helpful career wise?

I know that my friends, have asked me this. Especially being an international student, I am in the exact same situation where others may focus more on getting good grades and job-related experience. My response here is that, alongside internships and jobs, volunteering contributes to employ-ability! I've found that volunteer experience only builds job opportunities.

Firstly, volunteering helps to develop soft skills, transferable to the workplace. When participating in volunteering programs, I work as part of a team which requires me to stay organised and communicate effectively with others to achieve team goals. I'm able to practice management skills in a team leader role - all of which will be assets when moving up the career ladder. As an international student, I think volunteering is a great way for me to practice my English skills and public speaking skills. Moreover, if you volunteer with Volunteer Army for 20 hours, the AHEGS certification helps out with future opportunities.

Secondly, volunteering expands my professional network. When I volunteered at Twilight Aged Care, I had the chance to meet Twilight’s Marketing Director, who gave me valuable advice for future internships. She also connected with me on LinkedIn and helped expand my network to people in the marketing industry. In fact, with any experience, you never know who you are going to meet. As volunteering gives you the chance to meet new people, it serves to build your career path.

Last but not least, volunteering helps you to discover yourself and personal identity. By doing things you are interested in or trying new things that you have never done before, volunteering is a good way to learn more about yourself and unlock your potential, a foundation of career success. Volunteering tells prospective employers a great deal about who you are, outside of a resume or CV.

From my own experiences, volunteering helps to build a solid foundation for the next phase of your career. The skills you use, the tasks you complete, and the outcomes you achieve through volunteering will bring you closer to your career goals. 

- Linh 

Value in connection.

- Ashish

I came to Australia last year, just two days before the orientation week as a shy 23 year old student with average English skills and no friends in Sydney. On the first day of O-week, I saw Yellow Shirts and The Volunteer Army (VA) volunteers helping newcomers and enjoying the process. Watching that, it motivated me to do the same.  

So, I went to the VA stall, and asked them if their were any opportunities where I can make new friends and learn English at the same time (one arrow, two birds). The team suggested that I try out volunteering. From there, I met Anna (a passionate Culture Cafe coordinator) and thanks to her, was given the opportunity to volunteer with the program. After that day, I made new friends and improved my communication skills (still learning!). This had a huge positive impact on me as it eased my transition in moving from India and adapting to a new life in Australia.

Today, because of that decision to volunteer, I’m a Volunteer Army Program Activator, where I’m given more and greater opportunities to reach people and impact them in any way possible. Today I realise, because of Culture Cafe and VA, and the grateful gesture of those volunteers who work unselfishly to contribute and impact positively on students, we support students in transitioning to uni-life (O-week) (first day) to becoming graduate (last day).

I’m glad to be a volunteer and encourage you all to make the most of the valuable opportunities that VA presents because, I promise you, you will have an impact and worthwhile experience with them.

-Ashish

Let's be real.

- Deepika

Surrounded by the uncertainty due to the current pandemic, the international students are feeling quite vulnerable. As an international student myself, I can understand the inner turmoil of those living miles away from their families. This pandemic has exposed such students to several hardships as they are unsure of when they would go back home. Those who have returned to their home country, fear not being able to come back to Australia. Many international students are also facing acute financial burden due to the loss of casual jobs, which has led to a lot of stress and anxiety.

These past two months made me question my decision to study in Australia numerous times as I pondered if it was worth leaving my family for. While thoughts of loneliness constantly clouded me, my team at Volunteer Army provided me with unprecedented support. They encouraged me to volunteer online to lift my spirits. I participated in the Cards with Care and Penpals with Purpose project, which allowed me to reach out to people who were dealing with similar issues. This small gesture of kindness was very heart-warming yet impactful. I felt pleased to have contributed to making somebody’s day.

After much trying, I am finally back with my family in my home country, but I continue to remain associated with the Volunteer Army projects as they brought me joy during my tough times. As the government is slowing progressing towards easing the restrictions in the country, I am looking forward to flying back to Sydney in T3 and hanging out with my friends. Lastly, I would encourage those reading this newsletter to do their bit and give back to the community from the comfort of their homes.

- Deepika

Volunteering in the Aged Care Centre

- Dash

Pen Pals? Cards with Care? Hopefully that rings a bell! 

Now, a thought that may cross some people’s minds is to the point and value in talking with ‘old people’?!

And it’s a fair question. It is so easy to label people in our society ‘as important’ or ‘worthy of being in the discussion table’.  

As someone that has grown to love social impact, it is important to recognise that in making social change, we don’t need to work from the ground up. To realise that there are people out there with 60-100 years of life experiences is such a blessing to this society, and something I don’t think we have truly realised.  

To share some research, intergenerational learning has super benefits! Check out this article here if you are interested: https://www.irt.org.au/the-good-life/the-benefits-of-intergenerational-relationships/

My first volunteering experience was at a local nursing home in Beecroft. I distinctively remember a 1hr conversation I had with an elderly woman about her life - her husband’s career at Qantas, her own line of thinking. Despite her frequent memory lapses, she remembered me the next time I came in. I haven’t forgotten that conversation since.  

Your interactions with people, more often than not strangers, really do change you.  

So what’s the point in ‘talking with old people’?  

I hope you soon find the answer!  

- Dash