Ms Anna Jenkins1
1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia
Volunteering provides students and young people, with a valuable gateway into future paid employment; the development of leadership potential, organisational and networking skills can often lead to a successful transition into the workforce upon the completion of their studies.
In addition to these important and valuable employability outcomes, volunteering has a number of additional benefits, particularly for International students. Volunteering, both on-campus within the University structures, but importantly externally, can contribute greatly to increasing a student’s connections with their host community, can contribute to their own community upon return, and has real benefits for a student’s resilience, and wellbeing, thus helping to contribute to more successful academic and other outcomes.
A much underestimated benefit that volunteering provides to international students are psychosocial benefits, building personal resilience, and greater connectedness and positive experiences for international students. Positive social experiences for International students builds confidence, wellbeing and resilience, enabling them to form personal relationships with their immediate community members, and thereby increase their support network, and builds their own internal coping mechanisms, helping them deal with everyday work and study and personal stressors.
Volunteering external to the student’s university provides students with an opportunity to contribute, in a meaningful way, to the host community, which they are living in. Often, International student are siloed, highly involved and active within their student community, but rarely connecting with their host community, and engaging with the “Australian” culture and its people.
Drawing on examples from La Trobe University’s volunteer International Host program and Volunteering program, as well as student feedback and testimonials, I will discuss the benefits that volunteering brings to connecting international students with the wider community, ensuring that their social, cultural needs met, building social networks, creating cross cultural connections, and enhancing the student’s successful outcomes, both inside and outside the classroom
Anna Jenkins is a qualified Social Worker, and has worked with non-English speaking, migrant, vulnerable youth, and refugee communities, in the community and not-for profit sector, both within Australia and overseas for over 16 years, prior to joining the International student Services team at La Trobe University in 2015.
She worked with the Australian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, from 2001 to 2015, including coordinating, training and recruiting volunteers in one of the largest internationally recognised volunteer organisations in the world.
Anna has a passion for community development, social justice and assisting and supporting vulnerable migrants.