Q&A with International Student Volunteers

On May 26th eight enthusiastic American and Canadian volunteers arrived as part of an International Student Volunteers (ISV) program. The students have been working on a section of Belli Creek clearing a lot of Lantana and planting trees. We caught up with them in the following interview after a few days of hard work to find out what motivates someone to pay money and volunteer time to help out across the world.

Lilli: So guys, what made you want to become part of ISV in Australia?
Josh: I have always wanted to come to Australia and ISV represented the perfect way to combine volunteering, academic credit and adventurous travel. Volunteering is a value that is important to my life and something I do often back home via initiatives like Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life.
Brittany: It represented the chance of a lifetime! It offered a way that I can make a difference. The location was of course a draw card but for me it was more about the opportunity to give back and make a difference as well as do things that most people would never get to do.

Lilli: What were your first impressions when you arrived?
Brittany: I come from the mid-west USA so I really noticed the different trees, birds and of course the excitement of seeing Kangaroos rather than deer.
Josh: Well the different lifestyle here at Bellbunya. It was kinda like being in an 'inverted world' with all the healthy eating from the garden, alternative energy and waste minimisation.

Lilli: How did you feel when you first saw the work site?
Brittany: I was nervous of the work, what it would involve. It seemed impossible at first.
Josh: I was absolutely surprised at our progress on the first day. It was much further than I thought we could achieve.

Lilli: What do you think helped you guys achieve so much?
Josh: The sun, the tea-breaks.
Brittany: We were really motivated to help, that's the reason why we are here.

Lilli: What have you learned being here?
Brittany: Being out of my comfort zone, I have realised how important having an open mind is.
Josh: That there is more than one way to live, one is not greater than the other. It is also important to consider your impacts and realise the consequences of your actions.

Lilli: What has been the best bit so far?
Brittany: Getting to know everyone and being able to accomplish and contribute something really important.
Josh: Using the Sythe was really fun as well as little things like singing around the campfire, the view and the stars.

Lilli: And finally, where is your favourite place on Bellbunya?
Brittany: The area under the trees where there is a great view of Mt Eerwah.
Josh: The top of the ridge line to the west when I get the chance to climb it!

Josh is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Brittany is a student at University of Northern Iowa.
Lilli is an Australian project leader with ISV.       

Some of the great work- before and after!