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Volunteer with a friend, the fun will never end!

You would not think to realise it, but doing things with other people is what makes our experiences so much more memorable. While it is something we may take for granted, whether we realise it or not, friends are blessing in disguise.

I enrolled and began my journey with Macquarie University in 2018 with many of my friends not joining me. Some of them decided to take gap years, others decided to jump into full-time work and the rest were going to universities different to mine. Needless to say, I felt as though I was beginning my university experience alone.

Coming from the western suburbs, a strong stigma automatically came attached to me. Nevertheless, the GLP revealed opportunities for me to build my skills in order to confidently connect and communicate across communities and cultures whilst effectively bringing out the leader within. It is through these opportunities where I realised volunteering with a friend makes all the difference.

Previous to attending or beginning my studies at Macquarie, I was always driven to develop my leadership skills and work towards becoming more of an active global leader. Having a history of school captaincy roles, I was naturally interested in matters concerning the world today. The opportunities provided daily by the Macquarie Global Leadership team presented a wide variety of opportunities for me to participate in.

Meredith Turnbull Coaching us on a monthly basis. Discussing what leadership is to us. Parramatta, 2018

One of the first experiences I was blessed to participate in was the Young Women Lead Western Sydney program (YWLWS) organised by Youth Action. In 2018, I participated in this program run by Meredith Turnbull (coach and consultant) and Krissy Stapleton (Western Sydney Coordinator) with the central focus of leadership, targeting young women from the Greater Western Sydney area wanting to take action and create change within our own communities. I was able to develop myself as a young leader, learn how to make change happen and was fortunate enough to meet experienced, diverse and likeminded women leaders who I still keep in contact with today. In the progression of the program I developed my own social impact project and learned from other’s experiences and perspectives whilst understanding intersectional causes and impacts of social issues. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to have joined a network of other motivated women who were as keen as I am in creating change.

Later in 2018, I actively participated in the Fairfield City Council’s Volunteer program. I volunteered in the capacity of a General Event’s Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator Assistant, maintaining principal responsibility for the organisation of the Cabramatta Moon Festival Event. The Cabramatta Moon Festival is the state’s biggest south-east Asian festival, celebrating the traditional harvest festival as well as the amazing colour and spirit of Australia’s community. My duties included signing in and inducting volunteers to event site, running errands as required, assisting with set up/pack down and assisting with crowd control. My participation in this opportunity was truly enriching as I was surrounded by parades, lanterns, cultural food and spirits.

My role as a volunteer with Fairfield City Council for the Cabramatta Moon Festival in Fairfield, 2018.

In my continuation of my time at Macquarie I continued attending seminars I was interested in however went out on a limb and encouraged one of my good friends to join the Global Leadership Program with me. Her name is Derya and she was just as interested as I am in helping others and so we attended seminars together discussing torture, inequality and other humanitarian issues we were interested in and began volunteering together, supporting various organisations and their issues. One thing we’ve agreed we enjoy so much about volunteering are the connections and bonds we were able to build within the community. Whilst making a direct impact by volunteering for the people affected, we have the ability to create closer relationships and powerful connections allowing for deeper understanding of each other which we find absolutely beautiful. By volunteering with my best friend I am able to share my enjoyment in these experiences while supporting amazing causes, making it all the more memorable.

One amazing experience we’ve been able to engage in was by participating in the ‘Flavours of Auburn Event’ and ‘Everything for Senior’s Day Event’ in 2019. As volunteers, my best friend, Derya and I, assisted women from refugee backgrounds in running a cooking class. This event was run in partnership with the Women’s Creative Hub, Enactus and the House of Welcome, to assist the women in creating a sustainable income. This event allows for the community to learn more about their culture while facilitating a safe space for interaction. As volunteers, we demonstrated cross-cultural understanding, especially when exposed to different cultural practices and expression. We also demonstrated cross-cultural communication skills in assisting women to better interact within the community. Not to mention, the food we cooked and catered was delicious, and we got to take some home for ourselves too!

Food cooked and catered for the ‘Flavours of Auburn’ Event in 2019, Auburn.

Another memorable event we volunteered for was the Light the Night Event in 2018. Derya and I were lucky enough to be the only two chosen volunteers for the experience in supporting the Leukaemia Foundations beautiful evening lantern walk. Light the Night allowed Australians to come together and transform the darkness into sea of flowing light to give hope to all those impacted by blood cancer. This gave us the opportunity, along with many other donors to help raise vital funds to support families living with blood cancer and towards investment into life-changing research. Derya and I had such a good time together, we got along with the organisers and participants and has so much fn with the preparation and progression of the event.

Image 6: Volunteering with my best friend Derya at Light the Night 2019, Penrith. Pictured: (Left) Sherlin, (Middle) Tash, (Right) Derya.

We are yet to complete our journey at Macquarie but are confident that more opportunities lie ahead for us. The Global Leadership Program motivated me to do more for the community, focusing on helping those who need it and never taking anything for granted. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it is that volunteering and doing activities with a friend can really make your experiences more enjoyable. So look for opportunities together! Support a friend or have them support you with a cause you are interested in. Encourage your friend to join the Global Leadership program and most importantly, keep an open mind and heart towards what you want to achieve and who you want to help.

Everything is better with a friend.

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