Tag Archives: Co-curricular Record

VESA Volunteer trip to Africa | Rochester & Rutherford Hall

UC students from Rochester Rutherford Hall, Juliet Bryan, Roisin Blundell-Dorey, Ellen Wilson-Hill and Christian van der Gulik, gave an inspiring overview of their experiences on their recent trip to Africa.

“In the recent holidays we participated in a Volunteer Eco Student Abroad program in South Africa, St Lucia. We took part in in the sustainable community development project, volunteering at construction sites, conservation centres and work in education to help the less fortunate. This was an eye opening opportunity that we feel very privileged to have been able to experience.

The focus of our construction work was to build a home for a
man named Derek and his family of 8. They currently live in a
wooden shack, around 15 m by 3 m, not nearly enough room for
their large family. Their house is falling apart, and the roof had
several leaks. Due to financial difficulties and the size of their
house, only 4 of their 6 children can live in the house with them. Their new home built by VESA volunteers will have 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a septic tank and an incinerator. This meant the whole family could live together and live in a much healthier and
safer environment. Our contribution to the house was filling each room with soft sand, before flattening and raking it. We had to make concrete from scratch and poured it on top of the sand. It was physically hard work, having to manually shovel the concrete mix as
there was no machinery to help. However, we found this work incredibly rewarding as were able to personally talk to the family and see how much of an impact we were making to
their lives.

We then worked in conservation at The Saint Lucia Croc centre, which works towards capturing and rehabilitating problem crocodiles. The centre monitors crocodile behaviour and carries out research, as well as releasing offspring into the wild. They are home to all African crocodile species: the Nile, Dwarf and long-scouted crocodile; alongside American Alligators. We were split into three groups each tackling a different task. We cleaned numerous crocodile and alligator enclosures. A conservationist was required to supervise, not only to instruct us, but also to keep an eye on the crocodile as they remained in the enclosure with us as moving them is too stressful for the crocodile. We drained their pool and scrubbed it clean removing all the organics that had built up. We also helped to finish a two-year project, creating three new enclosures at the centre to house more adult crocodiles. We worked on concreting their pool and clearing overgrown bush. We also
helped to build a new set of enclosures for baby crocodiles in order to increase their survival rates before releasing them into the wild, clearing rubble from the building site. It was great to volunteer at this centre and see the impact it has on the crocodile population, as well as making the community a safer place from problem crocodiles.

We also worked in a Big Cat rehabilitation centre, that housed four wild cat species; the Cheetah, Serval, Caracal and the African Wildcat. The aim of the centre is to care for cats who are injured or neglected. They also breed where possible and release the offspring into their natural habitat into protected parks. We felt very privileged to be able to see the work they do first-hand, as well as contributing by helping with the enrichment of the Servals and
Cheetahs. Without VESA’s help, this centre lacks the funding to release these cats back into their natural habitat and support those who are unable to be released and must stay at the centre. Our work and financial contribution was significantly appreciated, and we felt
privileged to be a part of helping this centre.

Our final volunteer experience was at a school teaching students averagely aged between 5 and 13. We were split into small groups of 3 or 4 and would work in a classroom helping teach math and English as well as individual tutoring. In the school the ratio of teachers to student was extremely low so by volunteering we were able to teach students in smaller groups which meant they picked up the content
faster. It felt very rewarding teaching these students as many were very interested to learn and intelligent but struggled in a large classroom with only one teacher.

We also spent time at a kindergarten called Mama Doris’s. This was a free place where mothers could take their babies and under 5’s for the day. There are many teenage pregnancies in this area and Mama Doris provides for these young mothers by giving them a free place to take their children while they are still earning an education themselves or working. We would spend the day looking after the children and taking over from Mama Doris while she did admin, made meals, and rested as she works there all day every day. We mostly entertained the children by playing with them, colouring in and helping them say simple words in English. Working in education was very rewarding, however also made us feel very privileged for the education system and opportunities that New Zealand offers us.

Our experience in Africa was incredibly eye opening. We are very thankful for your contribution; you helped us gain an experience that will stay with us forever and mould our future endeavours.

Thank you, Juliet Bryan, Roisin Blundell-Dorey, Ellen Wilson-Hill and Christian van der Gulik.”

To learn more about activities for you to get involved in outside of academic study, check out the list of UC pre-approved activities on the Co-curricular Record (CCR). Find opportunities that suit you> 

UC Sustainability Champion: Meet Mikaila

Mikaila Ceelen-Thomas | Masters in Commerce, Green Marketing Guru and Eco Volunteer

This year, we’re proud to be profiling students and staff who we believe are contributing to the culture of sustainability at UC. We are running this campaign in the lead up to the 2019 UC Sustainability Awards, so get thinking about who you’ll be nominating this year! Nominations for the Awards are open from the 5 – 31 August.

In the meantime, read on and enjoy our next Sustainability Champion profile from the wonderful Mikaila – our social media superstar, ray of sunshine and Eco Volunteer (all while studying towards her Masters in Commerce). You might even recognise her from the latest issue of Canta – fittingly, it’s the Environment Issue!Mikaila zooming on her bike in the latest issue of Canta (photo credit: Java Katzur)

Tell us about yourself!

I am currently doing an MCOM Majoring in Marketing, my focus mainly on over consumption and why people choose to consume less / follow a sustainable lifestyle. Marketing for me is the gateway to reduce environmental impacts in the workplace and society – raising awareness about green marketing and leading by example. A fun fact about myself I love marmite on ice cream (don’t knock it till you try it).

Tell us how you become involved with sustainability at UC.

 After coming home from my exchange in the Netherlands I realised the huge passion I had for the environment and ensuring we maintain our relationship with mother nature. When coming back to UC I sought out for sustainability focused clubs and the got in touch with the Sustainability Office. I found some pretty awesome clubs in relation to making a difference and getting involved, and joining the Eco Volunteer team was a great move, allowing me to meet and hang out with like minded people at sustainability events on campus. I also gained a better understanding of my personal relationship with sustainability and where I fit in. The UC Sustainability team played a big role in helping me get more involved – now I work with Chloe from the Sustainability Office on social media and communications to promote sustainability events we have around campus. Helping get the message out and showing students how to get more involved with sustainability is key to increase engagement for students both on campus and in their personal lives.

Mik 1
Mikaila (right) at UC Sustainability’s Rethink Your Wardrobe Clothes Swap event earlier this year, where she coordinated the social media coverage.














What has been a sustainability project that has meant a lot to you?

One area for me would be combining sustainability and engagement through social media. My main focus is communicating with students and staff the work we are doing around campus and our upcoming events. Ensuring that students are aware of the cool events we put on such as our Bike Breakfast or Zero Waste Workshops and then sharing a snippet of the action through blog posts, Instagram takeovers and Facebook. It’s so exciting to see all the people who come along to the events, and you can see this is often the start of something bigger for them. For example, we had 100 students come along to our Plastic Free July workshop! Right now I’m helping Chloe run some really cool giveaways over social media for Plastic Free July and Fairtrade Fortnight, and boy do students love giveaways!! It’s been really cool seeing students tag in their friends and flatmates in the competitions, and watching how excited people are getting about winning eco products like reusable straws and beeswax wraps is so cool!

I’m also a major contributor to the latest edition of Canta, which is the Environmental / Sustainability Issue (find me in Flat Famous – wohoo!!), and I’m doing some Plastic Free July blogging for the Sustainability Office on campus this week, so watch this space!

Mikaila with the pile of eco giveaways for Plastic Free July and Fairtrade Fortnight, where she has been coordinating the content for social media giveaways and competitions

What is something that has made you feel really proud and a part of UC?

How UC is continuously striving to become more sustainable, little things such as the Cup Library in both the Eng Core and the Undercroft are big for me. Since being a fresher at UC I have seen some pretty cool developments and become much more aware of how sustainable our campus is. Who knew we have plenty of fruit trees on campus? Also how the UCSA’s Tea Party and other events have switched from plastic disposable cups to reusable ones – and not to forget our beautiful community garden – it makes me proud to be a student at UC.

Mikaila (bottom left) and her flatmates featuring in the Environmental Issue of Canta (photo credit:  Java Katzur)

Where to next for you?

This is my final year studying (woohoo), after finishing my thesis I shall step out into the real world and find myself a job. Ideally I will be working with a clean, green company that’s positively impacting the way we consume products. However, I would love to help guide businesses with sustainable practices, helping them grow and gain a better appreciation for our environment and why we need to take great care of it.

This message was bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected and follow us on Facebook, Instagram or sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop about campus sustainability. This blog is part of our Sustainability Champions Campaign, where we profile UC students and staff doing great things for sustainability. This is part of our wider communications plan for the 2019 UC Sustainability Awards. For more information, and for the Awards nomination form, see our website.


2020 ENG ME! Peer Mentoring Programme

Would you like to strengthen your leadership and teamwork attributes on your CV and get paid for it?

The College of Engineering is recruiting students to join our 2020 ENG ME! Peer Mentoring programme as mentors and tutors.

This is a paid employment with the College of Engineering, so you can earn some money while also supporting your fellow students!

Application forms are available here -> https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/engineering/engme/

Alternatively, you can pick up physical application forms at the College of Engineering office reception (John Britten – Ground floor).

Any questions? Email us at engme@canterbury.ac.nz or visit us at the College of Engineering office.

More info:

ENG ME! is our student-led, College-enabled peer mentoring programme.

  • All Engineering Intermediate students and 1st year Product Design students are assigned to a peer mentoring group led by an ENG ME! Mentor who is a current Professional Year College of Engineering student who has “been there and done that” successfully. These groups will meet weekly for the first 10 weeks of Semester 1.
  • ENG ME! Mentors provide group mentoring to Engineering Intermediate students and 1st Year Product Design students in their first year of study at UC offering direction, encouragement, motivation and friendship through weekly contact for the first 10 teaching weeks of Semester 1.
  • Mentors can choose to run any of their weekly mentoring sessions as study groups and that is where our ENG ME! Tutors step in to help.
  • Mentors are able to invite ENG ME! Tutors and Academic Staff to attend sessions and answer student (mentees) questions. No preparation is required for ENG ME! Tutors, just a knowledge of the first year College of Engineering courses and an ability to explain concepts or answer questions.