Why It’s Good to Volunteer

Did you know that 1.2 million people volunteer in New Zealand every year?

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, we caught up with student Eureka Fuentes and recent graduate Anastasia Timoshkina from the Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus to ask them why they think volunteering is beneficial for international students.     

Global volunteers: Anastasia Timoshkina and Eureka Fuentes

What kinds of volunteering have you done before?

Anastasia:  I have been a volunteer since I was in high school. My first experience was volunteering during the BMX Russian Championship.  After that I volunteered for big sporting events like the World Canopy Piloting Championship.   I also have experience volunteering with kids, elderly people, animal shelters and environmental projects.

Eureka:  For the past 3 months I have worked as an Opportunity Shop Volunteer for the Red Cross.  Prior to coming to New Zealand, I volunteered for fundraising events for international not-for-profit organisations.  I also took part in church-related activities too.

What did you decided to volunteer?

Anastasia:  A while ago I realized that one of the best ways to communicate is when a group of people are connected by a common activity. That was my initial goal when I started volunteering – to meet new people and to find new friends.

Eureka:  I had spare time and wanted to continue my passion working with not-for-profit organisations.  I also found it a good way to integrate with local communities by meeting various people. It’s a rewarding experience since you can make a difference to the lives of people by sharing your time and abilities.  

What are the benefits of volunteering?

Eureka:  It helped me to integrate into the local culture. I have met many people with different perspectives who have inspired my journey as an International student.   Study shows also that it’s good for your mental health knowing you’re making a difference in the community.  Volunteering can even enhance the employability of students as they become part of the labour market. 

Anastasia:  You get a unique opportunity for self-improvement.  You help people and make the world around you a little bit better.  You gain experience with each new project and event, are able to add this experience to your CV, and ultimately build the foundation for your career.  You can participate in big events in your country or overseas (Olympic Games, World Cup, Rugby Championship, etc.).  You can also increase the chances of getting internships in local and international companies.

What skills have you learnt from volunteering?

Eureka:  I had no prior experience in the retail industry so this gave me an opportunity to acquire new skills plus enhancing my skills in customer service.  It allowed me to communicate in a new language and helped me adjust to hearing Kiwi accents.

Anastasia:  Volunteering enhances your soft transferable skills such as the ability to work in a team, initiative, proactivity, critical thinking, positive attitude, problem-solving, time-management abilities and flexibility.  It helped me to improve my communication with international and local people, as well improving my English language skills. 

How can students get involved, or find out more about volunteering?

Eureka:  Join activities organised by the school that promotes volunteering. Search in websites for volunteering opportunities.  Visit not-for-profit organizations in your local area.  

Anastasia:  Websites such as SEEK Volunteer and Student Job Search are really useful.  You can also contact Conservation Volunteers New Zealand and Volunteering Auckland for opportunities.

National Volunteer Week celebrates the collective contribution of the 1.2 million volunteers who enrich Aotearoa New Zealand. #nvw2019

National Volunteer Week 2019 runs from June 16-22. This year’s theme is “Whiria te tangata – weaving the people together”. Volunteering, Mahi Aroha and social action weave people and communities together.

Join us this National Volunteer Week to stand together in our differences and choose to connect.

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