Leadership Camp Inspires College Student

October 14, 2015 at 1:47 PM

With thanks to Jess Hunt, student reporter

I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent Saint Kentigern College at the World Vision and Sanitarium scholarship week held last week. Students from 31 of the highest-achieving secondary schools were awarded scholarships for their efforts in helping towards World Vision and the 40 Hour Famine this year.

Day one started with mixing and mingling between the students as we arrived at the World Vision head office in Penrose. The World Vision crew organised a simulation game where we undertook tasks similar to those of which people living in poverty would have to do on a daily basis. These included carrying a bucket of water on our heads with only one hand to support, building a shelter, purifying water, planting seeds and finding information off a large piece of paper with many statistics. Although it got very competitive, as is to be expected from 31 high school students, it was a great insight into the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves and really gave us the opportunity to see what it would be like to walk a day in their shoes. For the rest of the day we met and interacted with the World Vision staff, learning and seeing what their job entitles, how they came to be in that position and how all these jobs come together to ensure World Vision runs smoothly and has the maximum possible benefit for those people it strives to help.

Day two was kicked off with a speaker from Amnesty International introducing us to our topic for the day – the refugee crisis. We learnt the difference between the commonly mistaken migrants and refugees, alongside being shown some very moving videos and statistics parallel to their campaign ‘Double the Quota’, which hopes to double the current refugee quota as it has not been changed in 30 years. Later in the day we visited Glen Innes School where we learnt about the Breakfast Club programme of which Saint Kentigern has a very large and positive relationship with. The stories we were told demonstrated to us of how our shoe banks, mufti day money and donations of used sports equipment have immensely impacted the lives of children living in low-decile schools in Auckland.

Possibly the highlight of the week for many of the students was our next activity – visiting the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. Being some of the very few people ever allowed to visit the facility, we felt extremely blessed and fortunate. After a presentation on how the centre works and its core values, the primary school aged children came and sang us a couple of traditional Maori songs including ‘Tutira Mai Nga Iwi’, commonly taught in primary schools all over New Zealand. The smile, delight and passion on the faces of the children as they presented the songs to us brought the majority of the room to tears. After coming from devastating circumstances and only being in the country for five weeks, the happiness in their faces was the most moving experience I have possibly ever experienced. Afterwards we were given a tour of the facility and met with some students the same age as us who were learning English to be ready to move to schools all around the country in a couple of weeks’ time. 

Day three we were fortunate enough to have a visit from Labour MP David Shearer and Greens MP Marama Davidson who spoke about their views on the refugee crisis and other current global issues at the moment. Their honesty and transparency in answering the questions thrown at them was very surprising to many of us.

That night was the awards dinner where Saint Kentigern was awarded with the Special Project Award presented by Sanitarium – it was such an honour to accept this award on behalf of my school. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with the C.E.O of World Vision, Chris Clarke, where I heard some of his fascinating stories of travelling to see how our funds are truly impacting the lives of these people and was able to share some of my overseas service stories as well.

On the final day, one of the World Vision staff gave the scholars a seminar on leadership, the different kinds of leaders, and how to have the greatest impact on changing the world abiding by our leadership style. Throughout the course of the week we were blessed to meet some people who are serving their communities by following the ‘buy one, give one’ rule as when a customer purchases their product they will donate the same product to someone less fortunate in their own community.

I feel I have changed as a person after the experiences I gained throughout the week. I now have the courage to use the skills and knowledge I have gained to go out there and make a change in the world in any way I can. A quote from Mother Teresa sums up my newfound knowledge and excitement towards how I can impact the future: ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’ 

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