17 December 2008

Be a volunteer in Wellington

New country, new people, a fresh start. It can be a very exciting time especially in the first month when the trip feels like an adventure and discovering fellow Filipinos, making friends, and going to the usual tourist haunts make it truly look like a holiday.

But as the days roll into a month, you will realize just how different New Zealand is from your home country. Well, for one thing, there is a lot of good things I see here. Fresh air, greenery, great people. But since you will be joining the workforce soon, you are still unsure of how you will fit in.

Well, here's a truly simple yet beneficial idea: volunteer! Volunteering has its inherent advantages: you can try new skills (or stick with what you know), get to interact with the local people, and start contributing to the development of the community! The variety of things you can do is limited only by your sense of adventure.

I am currently performing volunteer work as webmaster and user support at CommunityCentral. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to apply things I have learned while managing multiple websites in my previous job, and at the same time learn new applications. (Oh, and if you are a member of a not-for-profit organisation, or simply interested in the volunteering community and would like to subscribe to informative newsletters, join CommunityCentral! It's free.)

There are other roles waiting to be filled as well. You can become a host at a Community Center, help with food preparation in a kitchen, plant trees in the countryside, write newsletters and articles for a community site, teach English, care for animals, do gardening and lots more.

Plus, the registration procedure is 100% painless! :-) Excited to volunteer? Volunteering New Zealand is where I was able to get my volunteer role.

Head on to their website and click on "volunteering opportunities" to get a list of roles available. Then, you can register online as I did but the next day I also decided to go directly to their office instead. It's very near the Civic Center (where the Library is located). In fact, I would encourage you to visit their office but call first so you can set an appointment.

The people in the office are very helpful and accommodating. Many of them are volunteers too! The process is really simple. You need to fill-up a form, after which the coordinator will interview you to gauge the amount of time you have for volunteer efforts and your interest. Then, you will be shown some open roles. It will be great if you check the website and identify roles you want so you can share this immediately. You may only have an hour or so with the coordinator, so if you can save on the time searching for roles you like, they can help further by making introductory calls to the organisations you have identified and then they will pass the call to you to introduce yourself and say that you are interested in volunteering for them. A schedule will likely be made for you to meet them for interview. You will then be given a print-out of the list of jobs you have identified so you can personally follow-up.

Note that in some jobs, there may be specific skills that they would like you to possess already so don't lose heart if you are not selected for the role. It's just that most likely they organisation is also being run by volunteers and part time workers and that they do not have a structure for training people. Just move on and contact the other roles in your list.

I heard that they are looking for somebody who is interested in bone carving. I am curious to find out if I can volunteer in that...

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