Ordinary students doing extraordinary acts – Sophie Simons

Victoria House students are heavily involved in Student Volunteer Week this year. With a hall motto of, “friendship, community, success,” Victoria House embodies exactly what students volunteering is.

Each floor on their hall chose a specific organization to fundraise and volunteer for. The organisations vary from the Christchurch Victims Fund, Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust, Youthline/Lifeline and SPCA. I met with Kalea from yellow floor who is helping to fundraise for the SPCA fund. Their floor made bundles to raffle off for the cause and sharing a givealittle page with the purpose of helping the SPCA cope with demand. The idea to fundraise for the SPCA came from their RA’s personal connection with volunteering for the SPCA and out of their collective obsession for cats. Kalea spoke of the short time that was given to arrange and organise the volunteering pursuits but of the huge passion and effort that went into the fundraiser. She further helped to give a picture of the hundreds of dollars that has been donated to their pursuits. 

Relay For Life – Sophie Svenson

Relay for life is an event which brings communities together all over New Zealand. There is a collaborative aim of those involved, of celebrating cancer survivors, carers and remembering those who have lost their battle with cancer. Relay for life is a great event as it involves and attracts primarily thousands of school age students, allowing them to band together and raise awareness and funds for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

In 2016 I took part in Relay For Life, not only was this an enjoyable activity to complete with friends, walking or running around a track it was also a very emotional time among many. This is one of the few moments in life where I was taken aback, seeing first-hand the sheer amount of people who have been affected in some way, shape or form by cancer. Being in such an environment, it was wonderful to see the support and contribution from so many people, doing what they could to make Relay for Life the best it can be. Therefore this will forever be an unforgettable experience, and has prompted me into doing more in the way of volunteering in my community.

Fringe Spirit – Sophie Simons

New Zealand’s Fringe Festival is an annual performing arts festival throughout March which caters to all  audiences. This season was the first time that Fringe offered a volunteer programme to people of all ages and backgrounds. As a box office volunteer, I spent my evenings with the purpose of welcoming people, selling tickets and promoting Fringe. This experience was enlightening in providing a new insight into the Performing Arts community within New Zealand specifically the supportive community within Wellington. I built connections from all art forms and learned from others’ experiences to inform my view of the festival.

Overall, the Fringe volunteering experience is vital for anyone with a passion for the Performing Arts and anyone wanting to learn more about the Performing Arts field. The month I spent volunteering there has definitely informed my career perspective and has changed my life. Volunteering for the Fringe Festival overall opened up my eyes to the idea of theatre and how the arts can be a sustainable career path.

Kaitiakitanga in Action – Students Strike for a Safe Climate Future

School students all across the country are striking to urge action on climate change. Volunteering New Zealand interviewed two organisers of the strikes.

On March 15th, school students across the nation will strike for climate action. They are supported by parents, teachers, environmental researchers and the Children’s Commissioner.

Young people around the world are showing incredible leadership on the issue of climate change. The strike is an example of active citizenship, and a demonstration that young people are prepared to face up to the defining issue of their generation.

The strikes take place in the lead up to Student Volunteer Week. Our focus this year is Kaitiakitanga, the guardianship of our environment. Student volunteers are instrumental to this guardianship, and are at the forefront of advocating for environmental protection and carbon neutrality. Student Volunteer Week is an opportunity to celebrate student volunteering and encourage more opportunities to join the volunteering movement. The students striking this week, just like other young environmental volunteers across the nation, exemplify Kaitiakitanga in action. Find out how to get involved in Student Volunteer Week here.

We reached out to two organisers of the strikes, Sophie Handford, and Molly Doyle, to share their perspectives on the strike, kaitiakitanga, and how to create positive change. We hope their words can offer support motivation to other young people working to ensure a healthy and livable planet.

Sophie Handford – National Coordinator

Q What motivated you to organise these strikes?

I want a safe and secure future for not only my generation but generations to come. I think that we have a real chance here to take control of the conversation around our future. We are the ones who will inherit this earth. We deserve to have a say about the kind of future we have, which at this stage could be non-existent unless we stand up and show the politicians how important this is to us

Q Why is kaitiakitanga important to you?

I think the word kaitiakitanga represents something so crucial. So often, I feel like we fall into the trap of thinking this earth is ‘ours’ and we fail to understand the role we must play in our relationship with the earth. We must act as its guardian so we can give others the opportunity to do the same.

Q What advidce could you give to other students trying to make a positive impact?

The advice I would give is to take that first step! Once you get started, it becomes so much easier. There will be roadblocks along the way that you’ll encounter but envisage the positive impact you want to have and just keep that front of mind. Don’t give up!

Molly Doyle, National Committee Member

Q What motivated you to organise these strikes?

Our earth is precious – it’s our home. And I want to retain its beauty. I want to know the oceans are clean without plastic. I want to know the air we breathe is not polluted.

And I want it to stay beautiful for future generations. These strikes are the start of our generations move to a cleaner more sustainable future.

We have the ability to educate our generation about the impacts of climate change. We have the ability to show higher levels of power that we do care, and we value our environment. We have the chance to get together to make a positive impact.

Q Why is kaitiakitanga important to you?

Growing up in such a beautiful country I’ve learned that I am always appreciative of my natural surroundings. I see great value in looking after what we currently have. No matter where you are in the world you have a given responsibility to keep the environment clean. I can’t emphasize how important kaitiakitanga should be for these living generations. We are currently walking blind eye into a future that doesn’t hold the environmental capability of looking after us. We need to reverse that conception of the future, and know that we do care, and we will demonstrate everything in our power to be the change we want to see.

Q What advidce could you give to other students trying to make a positive impact?

My advice would have to be the change you want to see. I don’t see a positive future if people are still relying on others to make the difference. You really have to gain consciousness for your surroundings and seek to learn the impacts of your current actions.

We have the ability to make this change, so go out and do it!