Humans of Unicrew: Brianna Nally

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

This week we caught up with Brianna Nally! This cool human has volunteered in a range of roles and had some insight on her volunteering experiences for us!

20446400_1402408299876511_198037629_o

Why do you like helping others?

Everyone needs help at some time or another, and its really nice when someone is there for you when you need it, no matter what the problem is. We generally live in a society where this kind of support can always be found, but this only works if we give as well as take. If I can help anyone out, I therefore will. It makes me happy to know that someone I help today could go on and help another tomorrow, and so the trend goes on.

What has been your most rewarding volunteering experience and why? 

My most rewarding volunteering experience would be, in general, my involvement with the Chemistry Outreach group here at UO. In particular, our recent trip to Taiwan to run a workshop in a national high school chemistry camp there. It was fantastic to meet lots of new people, both students and teachers, and gain an insight into not only how students in other countries work but also how the whole event was managed differently. I feel it provided me with wider knowledge of running/organising these kind of events and more confidence for when I do that kind of thing back here in NZ.

What do you think needs to change in the University of Otago student community and why?

Like I said previously, I think us students need to realise that a happy and functioning community (university-wide or otherwise) cannot function properly on the good deeds of a few alone. Volunteer! Get involved with something new! It doesn’t have to be boring like picking up rubbish, it could be promoting your subject (like I do with chemistry), helping out the international students (eg conversational english through the SLDC, which I had a lot of fun doing!), or just proof reading a friends assignment.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you want to have dinner with and why?

Marie Curie; she’s been a great inspirational figure for me – she made amazing discoveries and dedicated her life to her scientific endeavours, despite the prejudice against women in the field at the time. I’d love to hear how she dealt with that, and what encouraged her to get into the field in the first place. And I’d want her to know how many past, present and future scientists she has or will be an idol for 🙂

Humans of Unicrew: Jo Mohan

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

Jo is a super volunteer! She is involved with the Otago International Friendship Network, Students Without Borders, Kiwihosts with Uniflats, and I’m sure she is doing lots of other wonderful things. She was awarded a NZ Youth Award earlier this year for her volunteering efforts. Here is our wee chat with this superstar!

20187014_1420798074641374_833519430_o

Thoughts from a Sleepless Sleepout

Thoughts from a Sleepless Sleepout

Last Friday night I participated in the third annual Dunedin Sleepout. The Sleepout raises money for the Dunedin Night Shelter and raises awareness of homelessness in our southern city. Despite the stories from others and my own knowledge of Dunedin and it’s frosty winters, nothing really prepared me for my night in the Octy.

Firstly, Dunedin is cold. Like, really cold. We braved one of the clearest, coldest nights of the year, where the temperature definitely dropped uncomfortably into the negatives. I’m a relatively tough Southern lass, but I have a fairly low tolerance for freezing my butt off. Kitted out in my expensive hiking thermals, fleeces and woolly socks, I hunkered down in an oversize windproof jacket and hoped for the best. Once the dance parties came to a close at 1am, I quickly realised that the night was only going to get colder. We had joked about going to the bars to keep warm, and I started to think that perhaps Suburbia would be my saviour after all.  

Eventually I succumbed to adding a third layer of pants and a sixth top layer, and climbed into my extra dense sleeping bag. Around 4am, I wondered if the night was ever going to end as I warmed my hands on the coffee urn, hoping that the heat would soak through my gloves and into my bones. My heart hurt for those who do this night in and night out, with no real end in sight. As I wondered if I would ever feel warmth again, I considered the grim prospect of this being my only option. A cold, slightly damp student flat is still better than nowhere to go at the end of the day.

Secondly, is it trivialising homelessness to have an event where we sleep outside for one night and then proceed to return to our homes and regular lives? Can we really encapsulate the experience of being homeless with a 12 hour stint in the Octagon, with the knowledge that we only need to do it once? We had a plethora of cardboard and tarps to create shelters, generously donated and supplied by sponsors. There was no shortage of soup, coffee, hot chocolate or pizza. OUSA came through for the teams with hot water bottles that were constantly refilled from urns of hot water. I was surrounded by friends and fun activities that made the first several hours pass in what seemed like mere minutes. In many ways, we didn’t emulate the homeless experience at all. The only aspect that we really captured was being outside on a freezing night in Dunedin city.

However, the Sleepout did start conversations. I wasn’t the only person realising that sleeping outside is a barely sustainable situation. Homeless people approached our soup table and asked if they might have some soup, and it was the conversations had over soup that really underscored why we were doing this. Some felt failed by a system that couldn’t serve them. Others were thankful that someone with a voice, was saying something. Others just wanted a conversation and some soup. I am grateful for being able to share in people’s stories, and to be in a position where I have a voice that can fight for others who are not heard.

Finally, as the sun rose and the ice began to glisten on the road, the 2017 Sleepout drew to a close. Cardboard was packed away and students shuffled wearily back to their halls and flats. The only signs we had even been there were human shapes imprinted into the damp grass. For some, home is an undefined concept, a question mark hanging in the air daily. The homeless are those that we try not to make eye contact with as we hurriedly brush past on George St. We try to ignore what makes us uncomfortable, but that discomfort is the knowledge that the situation is wrong. At the end of the day, we are all humans. I sit now in my flat musing over the fact I can see my breath as I type. Yet someone else is probably considering where they can sleep safely tonight. Someone is spending their first night on the streets, fearing it won’t be their last. Someone is spending another night on the streets, wondering when will be their last?

If this is something that concerns you and you want to help out, get in touch with the Dunedin Night Shelter: http://www.dunedinnightshelter.co.nz/.

Humans of Unicrew: Lydia Bowers

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

Lydia is a volunteer with the language support programme at the Student Learning Development Centre. She’s been on exchange and her bright personality lends itself to working with the international community.

19911527_1582206275132019_1535258374_o

Humans of Unicrew: Lucy Prestidge

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

Lucy volunteers with the language support program run through the Student Learning Development Centre here at the University. If you’re interested, pop into the office to find out more or check out the website.

20138013_1598204346877362_684724373_o

Humans of Unicrew: Jesse Aimer

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! After a short hiatus (exams and uni break, you know the deal) we are back in action. Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

This week we caught up with Jesse Aimer! He does some great work with the Otago International Friendship Network, the Peer Mediation centre, the Otago International office and the Citizens Advice bureau. In some of his spare minutes, he shared this with us.

20030738_10207529371311710_1375526481_nWhy do you like helping people?

Volunteering for different groups has given me the chance to meet a wide variety of people from across the University and Dunedin communities whom I may not have otherwise crossed paths with.

What would you say your greatest strength is and how does it help you in your volunteer roles?

I would say my greatest strength is being able to relate to people from a wide variety of backgrounds. In my volunteer roles I am fortunate enough to engage with people of all ages from all corners of the globe.

What would you like to see change in the University of Otago community?

I think the University of Otago community has a lot to be proud of. I would like our community to be more vocal – in our pride in the University and Dunedin, but also on the issues that impact us as a community. Building a greater presence will enable us to have a greater say in those issues that affect us on both a local and national scale.

Would you like to be famous? If so, what would you like to be famous for and why?

I would love to do something worthy of fame, but would then hate all the attention that comes with it. So, maybe if I’m rich enough to buy a large estate and hide from all the paps!

Humans of Unicrew: Jack Power

Welcome back to Humans of Unicrew! Taking inspiration from “Humans of New York” we are trying to catch up with the wonderful people that make this volunteering world go around. One of the beautiful things about this community is that it is ordinary people doing their part to make the uni, the city and the world just a wee bit more awesome. 

This is a special episode brought to you by big hearted humans tackling the less sun-shiney side of volunteering. A huge amount of the work we do is hugely rewarding, a lot of fun and a generally positive experience all round. Sometimes though, the proverbial happens and someone needs to be there to help out. Unicrew received a request for volunteers to assist with a domestic violence situation. We put the call out and Jack is one of those superstars, helping a family out of a pretty intense situation.

Jack

What motivates you to volunteer?

I’ve always like helping out in anyway I can, whether its a small favour or something bigger. The satisfaction I get from seeing people smile is a always amazing. The family were incredibly kind and thankful to us. It only took a couple of hours out of our day but will benefit the family a huge amount.

What needs to change in Dunedin?

I have moved down from Dunedin from Christchurch and absolutely love the city! It’s got an incredible vibe to it and is a very fun city to live in. The students here have a huge amount of energy and up-and-go, if a tiny bit of this could go into helping others in need it could make this city even better.

What have you found most challenging or upsetting during your volunteer activities?

Probably the fact that you can’t help everyone. There are many people in similar situations to the family we helped out but you never hear about it.

If you could have dinner with anyone, whom would you choose?
David Attenborough, Inspiring person who must have an immense passion for his wonderful career, would be interesting to talk to.