There are many reasons people decide to volunteer. For Queue, it was about enriching his experience of Australia and its people while studying abroad. Here, he shares his story with us.
People in China don’t value volunteering like they do in Australia.
Over there, they only use volunteers when there’s a major earthquake or something like that.
So when I came to Australia two years ago to study Waste Water Treatment (a specialist area of Environmental Engineering) I was surprised by the amount of volunteering opportunities.
Many international students try to experience new things and learn about the new culture, but they usually end up working in Chinese restaurants or on campus.
I think you can gain a much richer experience from volunteering.
When I started looking online, I found two roles with South Eastern Community Connect, and got in touch with the volunteering coordinator, Sue.
Sue showed me the roles she had available, and one of them was at the local playgroup.
A new experience
We didn’t have playgroups in China but I love working with children, so I chose that.
For the last 18 months I have worked at the Wednesday playgroup, helping with setting up and packing up, and keeping an eye on the kids when their parents are chatting.
I prepare and serve morning tea, help with craft, and participate in free play.
I also like chatting with parents, and sometimes I get the opportunity to translate.
I also help at the Friday morning English classes.
A valued member of the program
At South Eastern Community Connect I’m treated like an employee.
I’m not paid, but I’m still an important part of the team.
I’ve kept volunteering because I am trusted and everyone is really friendly.
When I’m not there they notice, and will check how I am.
When someone trusts you and relies on you you’re more willing to help, and passionate about what you do.
Seeing a young man from China volunteering is new for many, but I think that can be changed.
I would love to see more young people step up into these kinds of roles.
I’m now heading home to work in Shen Zhen, near Hong Kong, where I’ll help tutor primary school students in English or Maths, as well as working as an engineer.
My experience with South Eastern Community Connect has given me valuable work experience and I’ll never forget it.