University Volunteer Centre co-ordinator Sze-En Lau is
looking forward to signing up students during Orientation
Week to take part in community volunteering initiatives.
Photo by Brenda Harwood.
The University of Otago will launch its own version of
the scarfie army during Orientation Week, inviting students and
staff to become part of the ''UniCrew''.
The UniCrew project is an initiative of the
recently-established University Volunteer Centre, where
co-ordinator Sze-En Lau has been working since September to
establish processes to involve students in volunteering.
''I have been working with the OUSA, Volunteering Otago, and
community organisations on helping to strengthen the
volunteer network in Dunedin,'' Ms Lau said.
During Orientation, which will run from February 17 to 22,
the University Volunteer Centre (UVC) will have a presence at
the ''tent city'' on campus, where students will be
encouraged to sign up.
The two key aspects of the UVC programme would be to
establish a UniCrew database of students and staff keen to
volunteer, and also to get teams involved in group projects,
Ms Lau said.
''The idea behind the UniCrew projects is to get groups of
students working in association with community groups on
tasks that might take six to eight weeks,'' she said.
''The projects will be inspired and managed by the students
themselves, while also being flexible to fit in with
Employers were increasingly looking for ''well rounded''
employees and volunteering was a valuable way for students to
develop their skills and connections, she said.
''It is also a great opportunity for the students to get to
know Dunedin as a city and to gain insight into their new
The vision of the UVC was to establish volunteering as an
integral part of the university's culture, ''so, when
students come to Otago, they know that, at some point, they
will be involved in volunteering''.
University of Otago Student Services Division director David
Richardson said the UVC's work was in keeping with the
university's strategic direction, which aimed to produce
graduates with an understanding of altruism and making a
meaningful contribution to the community.
''It is not just about coming out [of university] with a
degree, it is about who you are as a person,'' Mr Richardson
Students were an integral part of the North Dunedin community
and having them involved in volunteer projects would also
enhance the town-gown relationship, he said.
Volunteering Otago manager Anna Clere welcomed the UVC
initiative, saying it would be a ''fantastic'' opportunity
About one-quarter of the 1000 volunteers who came to the
centre each year were students, and establishing links with
the UVC would be ''mutually beneficial'', Ms Clere said.
''Young people make great volunteers. They have heaps of
energy and enthusiasm,'' she said.
Community groups who wish to discuss possible projects for
the UniCrew to tackle are welcome to contact Sze-En Lau at
the UVC, phone 479-8631, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or
search for the University Volunteer Centre on Facebook.
- by Brenda Harwood