FedUni ENACTUS vs Australia…

FedUni ENACTUS selfie - From left: Lee, Deb, Dylan, Jess, Jane, Ben.
FedUni ENACTUS selfie – From left: Lee, Deb, Dylan, Jess, Jane, Ben.

To enable progress and inspire action! The ideals of Enactus were on full display as university teams from across Australia came together at the Grand Hyatt, in Melbourne, to showcase their entrepreneurial initiatives in place to improve the lives of people in need. The Fed Uni Enactus team, consisting of 5 active students along with our Faculty Advisor Deb, prepared our presentation for delivery to judges from major corporate sponsors, such as KPMG & Woolworths, as well as representatives from over 20 universities active in Enactus Australia.

WINNERS!!!!
WINNERS!!!!

After working hard to overcome a tumultuous previous 12 months, the FedUni team were in acompetition with  5 other universities, including UoQ & Latrobe, in a special ‘New Teams’ competition.  After a full day of competition, the FedUni Team were excited to be declared the winners of the Best New Team prize in recognition of our work on projects Adesua and FedUni Succeed, against a strong representation from all Unis involved.

The national competition winners heading to the World Cup in South Africa were the University of New England with the runners up being Edith Cowan University.  We’re excited to head back to nationals again next year in the main competition leagues and compete for our chance for a position in finals!

If you’re interested in the chance to develop your professional skills, help those less fortunate, travel or network with some of the highest executives of Australian business contact us via Facebook or fedunienactus@gmail.com for more info on joining our winning team! No matter your course, skill set, availability or interests we can help you achieve your personal goals and create positive change in people’s lives!

FedUni ENACTUS will also be running a workshop at The One Small Thing Conference at Mt Helen on 18th September, so you can find out exactly what they do and how you can get involved there: http://bit.ly/OneSmallThing15

  • Jess Kelly
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Look Local: Volunteering actually is all around

A couple of days ago, we wrote a blog post about voluntinder proposing the development of an app to find volunteering opportunities in your local community.

Sadly, we haven’t yet found someone to make the app happen for us (though Claire’s app developer cousin jokingly said he’d make one, and we’re seriously considering making him follow through). Getting a whole app finished in less than two days may have been a bit optimistic so we’ve been thinking about how to spread the word on local volunteering opportunities in other ways.

The FedUni student leadership website already has a fairly impressive list of volunteer opportunities around the Ballarat area and will soon have a similar list for Gippsland (it’s being put together as we speak), but we know that a lot of students travel long distances to campus so these may not be useful for everybody. For that reason we’ve started to put together a Pinterest account with links to opportunities all around the state and even internationally.

Apart from our resources, here are some other places that you can find volunteering opportunities in your local area:

It’s worth remembering that volunteering is certainly not limited to delivering meals on wheels or helping out at the local scout group (though if you’re interested in doing either of those things that’s fantastic!). Why not help out with a local sports group or use your crafty skills to make quilts or knit trauma teddies for kids in foster care? The possibilities are (almost) endless!

So happy volunteering, and good luck with finding that perfect opportunity!

Online volunteering: an effective way to help in a digital age?

With the rise of social media and an increasingly connected world, we are also seeing the rise of online activism. Being able to stay curled up at home when it’s cold and miserable and still be doing something to help others is an incredibly attractive prospect. But is it really helpful?

There are numerous different ways to volunteer online, ranging from signing a petition for a cause through websites such as Avaaz, Change.org or GetUp! to volunteering writing or IT skills to a particular cause. It’s hard to say how much impact your signature will have on a petition, but nobody can deny that they can create change – Avaaz have successfully used their online campaigns to lobby governments and big business on 251,804,704 actions since 2007.

Another sort of online activism that receives a huge amount of attention is via Facebook. As easy as it is to ‘like’ a cause you are interested in on Facebook, studies have shown that engagement from this sort of social media is fleeting and does not lead to any sort of meaningful impact. At best, it is spreading awareness of a cause without a follow-on effect. Though that’s not a bad thing in itself, either. You liking a post by Amnesty may introduce one of your facebook friends to their great work. You never know!

There are real and long-lasting changes that can be made by online volunteers. You could volunteer through the UN Online Volunteering portal, which links volunteers up to thousands of different opportunities from hundreds of reputable not-for-profit and non-governmental organisations ranging from writing, translation and research through to training and project management.

Another cool online opportunity could be to help transcribe field notes, specimen details and dairy entries for exhibits in Australian Museums or help Operation War Diary to discover amazing stories about World War I by reading and tagging some of their 1.5 million diary pages!

Online volunteering cops a lot of flack for being a ‘soft’ option. But I think it’s safe to say that if done the right way it can and will make a difference to the global community.

Voluntinder – swipe right to change the world

When students come to chat to us in our offices or ask about the leadership & volunteering program, one of the first things we ask is the following question:

A bit of a lofty idea, I know, but an incredibly important thing to find out about. Understandably, quite a few people are stumped by this question, but its answer goes to the heart of our program. We ask about it for two reasons:

  1. to find out about you and understand how we can help you fit the leadership program into your probably already quite busy life and discover how we can best support you.
  2. even more importantly, it helps us to find out what sort of volunteering opportunities you may be interested in.

Just like our tastes in friends or partners, a volunteer opportunity that works for one person may not be best for another. This means that we spend a lot of our time flipping through postcards from different organisations discussing them with students who would like to volunteer but aren’t sure where to start. It’s a great way of discussing options, but not all students even know to come and visit us to throw around ideas.

So I’d like to propose a new way of choosing organisations to volunteer with.

Well, it’s not really a new way. More like repurposing (and definitely not plagiarising!) a good idea that someone else had.

Tinder.

Why are we not using it to find volunteer opportunities?

It’s so convenient! People already use it to find the perfect match (or the match for right now) for people in their area. Why aren’t we using great technology like this to make our world a better place?

Imagine it: swipe right to add an opportunity to your pinboard (at this point my app idea’s starting to sound like a mix of tinder and pinterest, but what good idea isn’t stealing from others?!) and swipe left for things that don’t interest you. I picture it as being intelligent enough to start to learn the sorts of things that people are interested in. And all this from the comfort of wherever you happen to be with a wifi connection!Mr Swipe Right #Tinder @Chastity Ek

I mean don’t get me wrong, the volunteer expos we’ve been hosting this week at Mount Helen and Gippsland have been absolutely fantastic opportunities for people to speak face to face with organisations and an app will never be able to replace that one-on-one contact. But we can only hold so many expos. Having that information down in a simple app would make reaching people who are interested in volunteering throughout the year so much easier.

So I’d like to offer a prize for anyone who has the skills to develop this app or who has any other fantastic ideas to make the world a better place. I can’t promise it will be a good prize, but it will be a prize nonetheless. Let us know your thoughts on this or anything else you think would make a difference!

Why volunteers matter in our university community

Happy National Student Volunteer Week!!

This week we, like many other universities, will be celebrating our nsvw-logostudent volunteers and providing opportunities for others to get involved in volunteering within their local community. We’re incredibly proud of the huge impact that FedUni students make to improving campus life and making it a fun and safe space for all members of the university community to enjoy. As well as this, many FedUni students play an integral part of their local communities, volunteering with the CFA, local sporting groups, their kids’ schools, scouts, participating in charity fun runs…

The list is seemingly endless, and wThank you to all that have the heart and take the time to volunteer!e’re constantly surprised and impressed with the different ways that students are choosing to give back.

But why is this so impressive? What is it about volunteering that makes others think highly of you?

Simply put, volunteers create a better world. A world which values giving back over self-interest, which knows that money isn’t the only key to happiness.

For example, imagine our campus without student leaders and volunteers. Without student ambassadors to help spread the word about how great the uni is, there’d be no incoming students. Without PASS leaders, students would have a tougher time keeping up with their difficult subjects. And without volunteers, events like Gippsland campus’ weekly pancake brunch and all of the club & society events wouldn’t be possible.

So here’s to all the student volunteers at the heart of our university community. We would be much poorer for not having you!

Volunteering – is it always a good thing?

I’m a pretty big fan of volunteering. I truly believe that volunteers have a huge impact on societies in terms of wellbeing, community health and the economy. Free labour is of course much cheaper than paying someone under the right circumstances. That being said, over the past few years I’ve been watching a new volunteering trend that I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable with:

Voluntourism.

I’m sure you’ve heard the word before and probably know people who’ve been voluntourists themselves. The stereotype of a voluntourist is a middle-class Westerner with a high level of education who pays a company to head over to a developing nation or a remote Indigenous community and help out by building a house/working in an orphanage/teaching English for a short period of time. Essentially wealthy do-gooders who want to get a more “authentic”  and feel-good experience out of their overseas holiday.

17a7338a-6733-4bd6-b75f-26ad6ec16fd5-620x372Voluntourism is summed up pretty well in this video by the campaign End Humanitarian Douchery, which aims to end irresponsible voluntourism.

Unfortunately, this idea that Westerners can always help out those in “less fortunate” nations no matter what our skills and as long as we can pay our way is not only wrong, but incredibly harmful to the very communities we are trying to help. It sees us fall back into the trap of colonial missionaries who felt it their duty to tame the savages and educate them in the ways of the civilised world, without considering the beliefs and culture of the community they were entering. In particular, by young foreigners paying to come and complete tasks such as building mud houses, they are unwittingly taking these jobs away from locals who may well be more qualified to complete them and who would benefit from the employment.

This also creates an unequal power dynamic between the volunteer and the host community, in which the volunteer has a large amount of power over the locals because the locals must be grateful for the “sacrifice” the volunteer is making for them.

Another key issue with voluntourism is the lack of checks and balances in place for volunteers with some agencies.

In Australia we place a huge emphasis on responsible volunteering, which often includes police and working with children checks and codes of conduct (including rules for social media) for volunteers. Yet, it’s pretty common to see photos of a voluntourist hugging a smiling African kid on facebook accompanied by pages of comments stating “omg soooo cute, ur such a good person!!”

If a stranger came into a preschool in Australia and starting hugging and taking photos of kids we’d probably call the cops. Why is it ok just because we’re overseas volunteering?

At the heart of the matter, I personally don’t want to be idolised by a young child in Africa, Asia or South America. And I don’t want them to idolise any other young Western guy who rides in as a two-week white knight.  I want them to look up to people from their own community, with their own values. I want them to see the fantastic things leaders in their own communities are achieving and think “I want to grow up to be like them”.

So does this all mean we can’t volunteer overseas or in remote Indigenous communities? Not at all!

But it does mean that we need to get smarter about HOW we volunteer overseas. We need to make sure that what we’re doing is good for everybody involved and not just ourselves.

To do this, End Humanitarian Douchery has compiled a checklist of 8 things to keep in mind when looking to volunteer overseas:

  1. Ensure that you won’t be taking/displacing jobs that could be valuable to the locals of the community.
  2. Assess the impact of the organization you’ll be working with
  3. Ensure goals are LOCALLY driven.
  4. Consider the sustainability of what the organization does.
  5. Question and be wary of organizations accepting un-vetted/unqualified volunteers (& and don’t let that be YOU!)
  6. Research management and transparency of the organization
  7. Consider implications of your presence in the community (and your departure)
  8. Question organizations that are spending disproportionate amounts of resources on catering to the volunteers

So volunteer away! But make sure you do it responsibly.

Voluntourism_homepage

What are your thoughts on volunteering overseas?

Have you had any experiences with voluntourism and its positives/negatives?

– Claire.

Why Every Day Should Be Pay It Forward Day

To “pay it forward” is to respond to someone’s kindness by then being kind to someone else. Ultimately the idea of this is to create a wave of kindness amongst humanity.  Imagine a tsunami, but instead of water and destruction there is kindness and happiness. That’s pretty cool.

PayIt ForwardYesterday in Australia it was Pay It Forward Day, where you are encouraged to act with generosity towards others and set off the kindness motion. It is a day dedicated to doing something without expecting anything in return, which is awesome. But why are we only expected to notably act with such kindness on one day of the year? Why not pay it forward on 365 days of the year? Yes, it is important to actively recognise a powerful phenomenon such as this, but if we all practiced it as part of our everyday lives would it really be necessary to dedicate a single day to it?

Is it just an excuse for your kindness to be noticed?

4907_lollipopThere’s no extrinsic reward for paying it forward, you don’t get a lollipop or trophy for being kind, which is possibly why there is not a lot of kindness in the world. People are motivated by materials and receiving, they won’t pay it forward because there is nothing in it for them. Don’t feel bad, we all do it, it’s the truth of today. But don’t be fooled, there is something in it for you. It’s that wonderful feeling of internally knowing that you did something great and made a permanently positive impact on someone’s life. That’s the power you have as a human, you can change people’s lives. And you can do this by simply being kind, acting with generosity, being considerate, seeing a need and acting on it.

When you reflect later on in life, imagine the feeling of knowing that you contributed some goodness to this world, that you made someone’s life that bit better.

That feeling should be enough to not only pay it forward today, but every day. You should never underestimate the magnitude of your actions, so why fit all of your kindness into one day? And sometimes, kindness is kind to you. You might choose to help someone carry their groceries, and one day, someone might just help you. It’s like a kindness boomerang.

So I hope you did something nice for someone yesterday, that you received a kindness too and that you pay it forward today, not because that’s what were told to do, but because you are human and you can.

And then do it again tomorrow, then the next day, then the next and so on. Make ordinary lives extraordinary.

I challenge you. Please accept.

– Annika Miesen, FedUni Student