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Everyday campus heroes: Good-will guardians

18 June 2018
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an everyday campus hero!
Living among us are a handful of secret superheroes who use their powers for the greater good of our campuses. They’re the everyday heroes who make our University community truly special.

Meet three students who are getting out into the community to pay it forward in ways that are making a real impact. While at times it’s easy to get caught up in the little things and lose sight of the bigger picture, these guys are shifting the lens to focus on the stuff that really matters.

Maddy de Dassel is a fourth year Science/Laws student who moved to Sydney from Coffs Harbour when she first started uni. Since high school, she has been involved in a number of community volunteering projects and has continued to do so throughout her degree.

Q: What kind of volunteering do you do?

Maddy: I’m mostly involved in a kids buddies program. It’s basically just hanging out with young people who are from disadvantaged homes and taking them out for a day of fun. These kids are usually from families that are refugees, are dealing with mental health issues, or are struggling financially. It’s definitely my favourite program to be a part of.

Q: What’s been your most memorable volunteering moment?

Maddy: There’s been a few. It’s always special when you make a bond with the kids or people you’re working with. There’s always mischievous or rebellious kids in groups we go out with, but once you get to know them and break that barrier, you connect on a different level and they’re really happy to be there with you.

Q: Would you recommend volunteering to other students?

Maddy: Yes, absolutely. I’m not from Sydney, so it was a great way for me to get off campus and see different parts of the city and also to meet new and like-minded people. Apart from that it’s just an opportunity to gain some perspective and give something back to people who aren’t as fortunate as I am.

Minh Duong is a Science/Arts student who started volunteering when he first began his degree. Mostly involved in Night Patrol, where he goes out monthly to provide hot drinks, food and conversation to people living on the street, Minh thinks that one of the most important things about volunteering is gaining perspective.

Q: Has volunteering influenced the type of career you want to pursue?

Minh: Yeah, I think that being involved in these sorts of things makes you approach everyday things in life with the intention to do good. For the most part, I think everyone involved in volunteering-type-things wants to give some kind of service back to the community and will likely take that into the career they choose and how they live their life.

Q: Has your involvement changed your perspective?

Minh: Definitely. Sometimes I can get so caught up in assignments and even just in things like figuring out what units I’m doing next semester. Volunteering gives me an opportunity to step back and see the bigger picture, and be reminded of why I’m at university, what I’m going to do later in life and what’s important to me.

Jess Worne is an International and Global studies student. She believes that while it’s important to learn about and understand different issues that are going on in the world, it’s even more important to get out and learn from lived experience.

Q: Why is volunteering important to you?

Jess: I think it’s really important to give back to the community. In my degree, it seems that I learn a lot of theoretical information and have become aware of a lot of issues. Volunteering gives me the ability to get out and actually address some of the issues I’m learning about at a community level. I’m really involved in education volunteer programs, so I guess it’s also important to know I’m helping kids stay engaged with school.

Q: Is education something you feel strongly about?

Jess: Yeah definitely. I’ve come to realise that teaching kids and instilling values like tolerance and acceptance is one of the most important things we can do. I change my mind a lot about what my dream job would be, but more and more I’m starting to realise that it’s probably in primary education.

If you want to know more about volunteering and how you can get involved as a student, visit the USU website or the USU Volunteer Facebook page.  

Do you know an everyday campus hero? Let us know.

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