Volunteering at VIVID

9 April 2018

International students from across the city have relished the opportunity to volunteer at Sydney's Vivid festival. Victor Sun from Hong Kong sat down with the StudyNSW team to share his experience of volunteering at Vivid.

What was your motivation to volunteer?
I first went to Vivid two years ago and was absolutely amazed by the variety and creativity of the festival. Since then, I told myself that I want to go to Vivid every year. This year, I came across with the Vivid crew recruiting via StudyNSW, so I told myself, why not have a try? Vivid is one of the biggest international events and it's a privilege working with the Vivid Volunteers Team.

What has been your highlight?
My duty as the Installation Activity Assistant is to understand the background of each installation that I am assigned to and provide an explanation to our guests. I was assigned to the Revive the Reef for my first three shifts and my role was to to raise our guests awareness of marine protection. I explained to the guests about the idea of the installation and they loved it so much. A lot of them gave me really positive feedback. I think that is very meaningful to promote marine protection to guests from all around the world. One of the installations that I love most is the Harmony Valley - Rainbow of Peace and Trees of Friendships. As it is one of the most popular spots, the queue can be quite long so I love to take the time to welcome and interact with the guests while they are waiting. We had a lot of conversations and I always see their happy faces when they leave the installation.

What practical skills and experience have you gained?
Throughout my shifts, I have the chance to boost my confidence through chatting with guests and explaining the idea behind the installations. I have the chance to speak to different guests from all walks of life. I also have to work with managing the crowd and have gained some insights about crowd management. Each night we are told about the number of guests we are expecting and I have learnt about some of the operating procedures of a huge international event.

Why did you decide to study in Sydney and Australia?
The learning culture here in Australia is a lot different from where I did my primary and secondary education. In Hong Kong, we focus on memorising content. In Australia, we have the chance to explore the answers by ourselves and the pressure from studying changes. I loved Aviation from a very young age yet when I first came to Sydney I did a Diploma of Commerce. I thought I would be getting into a Bachelor of Commerce, rather than really pursuing my dream of working in the aviation field. However, I have the chance to try and apply for UNSW Aviation and they accepted me. I have no regrets - all my hard work from doing my diploma paid off!

What is your experience of the Sydney lifestyle?
I find myself always getting very busy with my coursework and volunteering but I think it is really rewarding. I usually have uni around four days a week but it depends on my timetable each semester. I also work part-time in a cafe. In my spare time I complete additional volunteering activities on campus and off campus. Vivid Sydney is about to come to an end, but when I finish exams next week, I will be one of the Beach Advisors at Sydney Airport again, and I have applied to be the Team Leader for the Sydney Airport Student Welcome Desk. I really enjoy my packed schedule.

What advice to other international students in Australia?
I think as an international student, you might have a different cultural background and speak English as a second language but it is important that you try to adapt to the Aussie culture. For example, university education here is all about self-motivation. In addition, be active. If you need help with language support, go and seek help - your University Learning Centre might be your best first point of contact. Last but not least, try to be active and join community engagement organisations, where you can get to know a lot of friends. A lot of universities offer programs like leadership and volunteering. I would personally recommend you join StudyNSW’s Airport Student Welcome Desk which will provide you with skills like customer service and help boost your confidence. You can then move forward to other volunteering programs, like Vivid Sydney, which not only enable you to broaden your horizons but also allow you to meet a lot of new friends.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain experience, make new friends and connect with the local community. Visit ineedhelpers.com or volunteering.nsw.gov.au and get involved!