A trip to Russia has given an AUT Sport and Recreation student a new understanding of the global demand for volunteers.
But 20-year-old Claudia Raven has noticed the spirit of giving seems to be lost on many people of her generation.
Claudia was one of 110 young people from around the world selected to fly to Kazan in Russia earlier this month for the first International University Sports Federation (FISU) volunteering conference.
As a member of the University and Tertiary Sport NZ (UTSNZ) student commission, Claudia was one of two Kiwi representatives chosen and spent a week in Russia learning about volunteer management, the important skills volunteers need and strategies to motivate others.
"They expressed the importance of giving volunteers roles where they can network with people, rather than giving them jobs where they are stuck behind a computer,” she said.
“I have a favourite quote from the conference that will always stick with me: “If not you, then who? if not now, then when?”
With 170 countries represented at the conference, Claudia said for the first time she was able to hear examples of how volunteering is done around the world from students directly involved.
"The conference was a big cultural experience where I realised just how developed we are compared to other countries. It was very cool to listen to other experiences, learn some different languages and meet people from all around the world,” she said.
Claudia’s commitment to volunteering is driven by her passion to give back to the sporting communities that have allowed her to participate and succeed.
In 2016, she completed 68 hours of sports volunteering, mainly through her netball commitments as an AUT player, umpire and manager for the Year 8 North Harbour Representative team.
Since then, Claudia has volunteered at numerous national and international events and said it gave her an experience that couldn't be bought.
“Volunteering isn’t a job, it’s a passion. It’s about being part of the experience and seeing others achieve greatness.”
While Claudia’s achievements continue to soar to new heights, she said it’s the opportunities given to her by people like AUT Sport and Athlete Support manager Bruce Meyer and his team that makes it all possible; from the chance to umpire at netball trials to assisting with organising the 2016 AUT Blues Awards.
“Being able to give back to the community that’s enabled me to succeed in my sporting and working life is one of the reasons why I think volunteering is so important, along with seeing the success of an event as none would be possible without the help of volunteers”, she said.
This semester Claudia will continue her volunteer work as coach of an AUT netball team, bench official and UTSNZ student representative.
Claudia said she was hoping to use the skills and knowledge she had gathered over in Russia to encourage more people, especially youth, to take the time to volunteer in their communities.