A Plan for girls: Alumna joins international children's charity

4 December 2012

On October 11 2012, children's development organisation, Plan International, held its annual 'Because I am a Girl' and 'International Day of the Girl' campaigns. Events and celebrations were hosted across the globe to address the barriers that prevent girls from finishing their secondary education, and to encourage the United Nations to make an official day to raise awareness about girls' rights.

As the International Communications Assistant and Digital Media Library Assistant at Plan, Arts graduate Yolanda Harbon (BA '12) was at the forefront of the activity.

"The thrill of being a part of this team really hit me when Plan lit up famous monuments and landmarks around the world in pink, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl! The Pyramids in Egypt, the Empire State Building in the US, Niagara Falls in Canada, the London Eye in the UK, the Little Mermaid in Denmark, and many more," says Harbon, who studied Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Sydney.

Working with Plan's digital media library, Harbon processes and catalogues various photographs, films, audio, publications, infographics and maps for staff to access from around the world. For their recent 75th birthday, Plan staff ran the 'World's Biggest Children's Birthday Party', and asked children in the local communities they work with to draw, decorate and create unique birthday cards. Harbon was in charge of processing these artworks into the digital library for the staff to distribute.

"My favourite part of my job is when I see photos and videos of children with the biggest smiles on their face, completely happy and content in their community as Plan has helped them and their families to move out of a life of poverty and into a prosperous future," says Yolanda. "Plan International is an organisation which fights for children's rights, and does so in a positive way, which I am extremely proud to be a part of."

Graduating earlier this year, Harbon found her passion for Museum Studies in the second year of her Bachelor of Arts degree. While she assumed she'd end up working in a museum once leaving the University, she ended up at Plan just four weeks after moving to England, which is something she credits to the widely applicable skills she developed throughout her studies.

"Like many students of the University of Sydney, I broke the cliché and started work in an industry of which I had no in-depth knowledge, but one in which I could apply my skills learnt at university," says Harbon. "My degree has given me a core foundation which I can take with me throughout my career - whether that be at a museum, a school, a children's rights organisation (like Plan International), or who knows - someday an exciting theme park or travel TV show might want to employ someone with my skills (I can only hope!). Never give up hope, because you never know what surprising job may be waiting for you around the corner."

Harbon hopes to return to the University sometime soon to complete a Masters degree in Museum Studies, and says she's prepared to take all that Sydney has to offer, even if that means reacquainting herself with its very prominent community of ibis birds. She speaks with great fondness of all the "in-between" experiences that helped her through her degree, including movie nights, campus galleries, sausage sizzles and Newtown Thai.

"There were many afternoons where I sat on the grass steps of the oval between the Physics and Educations buildings (after a long day of studying for exams, of course) and as the sun set over the University and the people playing Frisbee continued to enjoy their evening, I remembered how lucky I was to attend such a wonderful university," says Harbon.