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Students stand out with Global Experience

by Melissa Norris

Kelly Sullivan with some of the village men in tradition dress at the first Tamang Cultural festival held on 26 December.Three UniSA students are about to embark on an international experience that includes creating a fruit and vegetable garden for malnourished students in Nepal, working with children and teenagers in Buenos Aires and mapping marine life in the Philippines.

The three inspirational students are enhancing their degrees with international travel through UniSA’s Global Experience program.

The Global Experience program awards travel grants that allow students to volunteer overseas and complete work experience that will complement their degrees and give them a competitive advantage in the workforce.

One of the students involved is Kelly Sullivan (pictured right), a design student who is looking forward to volunteering in Nepal during November and December. Kelly has already set up her own not-for-profit organisation called Global Village Education Incorporated and raised more than $40,000 to help the village she will be visiting.

Kelly travelled to the country during her past summer holidays and stayed in the remote village of Batase, about a-day-and-a-half trek from Kathmandu.

“I was in the village for two-and-a-half weeks where I was introduced to village life and also the struggles which the locals face on a daily basis,” Kelly said.

The state of the local school particularly concerned Kelly, along with the fact that most children in the village walk between one and three hours to get to school, many going without eating beforehand and some going without lunch as well.

She now wants to use her Global Experience travel to go back and make a difference in the lives of the local students.

Kelly with some of the local village children.“Being in the village truly inspired me as most of these village children are very bright and enjoy going to school,” she said.

“However, it was very concerning to me that most of them were not eating for the whole day until they returned home from school.

“I will be raising money to set up a vegetable and fruit garden in order to create a sustainable food source so that the school children can have a snack before they start school and have a meal at lunch times.

“This will hopefully increase the enrolment numbers in the village and also create a couple of jobs for some village girls who have not been educated due to the school not being built when they were younger.”

After seeing the difference that non-profit organisations can make to the area, Kelly has plans in motion to create the sustainable food source by setting up a non-profit organisation.

Kelly hopes to return to the village regularly after her experience to see how the work is developing and the changes it makes to the community.

Another UniSA student looking forward to her trip is Kaitlin Hand, who will set off for South America in November where she will volunteer at a children’s home and learn Spanish through intensive language classes.

“I will be working primarily with children and teenagers, participating in such roles as teaching English, counselling services, helping to distribute food and other resources, as well as general care and community service,” she said.

The law and language and cultural studies student believes the Spanish classes will be essential to her volunteer work, as English is not widely spoken in South America. In addition she says it will greatly improve her academic studies of Spanish when she returns for study at UniSA next year.

Jennifer McInnes, a midwifery student, will be travelling to the Philippines in November where she expects to be involved in studying and working with marine life.

Her experience is likely to include scuba diving, building a database of marine life in the area and encouraging awareness of environmental issues in the community.

“The expected outcomes of the project are to create the most environmentally and economically profitable Marine Protected Area in the region, contributing to conservation, development and resource access, and the financial sustainability of the local community,” she said.

“The chance to spend time in such an amazing marine landscape is just an added bonus.”

An additional three travel grants will be awarded later this year to encourage further UniSA students to enrich their degrees with similar overseas experiences.

For more details about Global Experience, see the website.