June RAVN Update
June 'RAVN Update' - A message from the Australian Volunteers Section, DFAT
I was pleased to attend the recent RAVN State Representatives Workshop and meet the out-going and in-coming representatives. It was great to put faces to names- the State Representatives are fantastic champions for the Australian Volunteers Program and it was inspiring to see their commitment to returned volunteers and hear about the activities they are planning over 2019-2020 to engage with you. I hope that you’ll support them and attend these returned volunteer events to continue the networking within your States and hopefully meet some new and interesting people.
In my role working on public diplomacy, I come across stories of both current and returned volunteers. It’s wonderful to hear about the work that volunteers are doing and have done, and how they have grown and applied the skills they have acquired, both on a personal and professional scale. Volunteers improve the world’s understanding of Australia, and hopefully promote a positive perception of us, our values, and how we can work together to address development challenges. Volunteers also say how they gain an understanding of our region, and build an attachment with the country they were in.
The stories that resonate the most with me are those about connections. The relationships that you form with colleagues and people within your community from your time overseas are enduring, lasting well after the assignments have finished and you have left. This creates future opportunities for collaboration and partnerships and a way to remain connected to the country you volunteered in.
One such example is the friendship between NT State Representative Rachel Brindal and Elizabeth Grover, who won the first edition of the ‘Go Back Give Back’ competition, and their Bhutanese colleague Yeshi Gyaltshen. Yeshi, who is hard of hearing, is a science and maths teacher at the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf, and is currently in Australia undertaking Auslan (Australian Sign Language) study before commencing a Masters of Learning Intervention Deaf Education at the University of Melbourne in 2020 as part of an Australia Award. Rachel and Elizabeth are helping Yeshi to prepare for his formal study next year, and Elizabeth has introduced and supported connections for him within the Deaf community in Melbourne and also within her school. They have also been able to meet up a few times too.
There are many stories like these, including the strong bond between Michael Nunan and Willie Horoto from Solomon Islands. You can hear about their story here.
I hope that you’ll continue to let us know about how you are remaining connected.
I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage you to reach out to fellow volunteers, who have participated in an Australian government-funded program, and let them know about RAVN, which has been established to provide opportunities to network and become part of an alumni of more than 7,000 members across Australia and overseas.
Program Officer, Australian Volunteers Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade