Hard work brings rewards

International Volunteers for Peace (IVP) recruited eight volunteers from four countries to help the Goulburn Show Committee with set-up and pack-up for the Goulburn Agricultural Pastoral & Horticultural Show (Goulburn Show).  This is one of the main events on the local calendar as it is a place where local farmers and producers demonstrate their skills and compete for prizes with the best produce and animals as well as arts and crafts.  The show committee really appreciated the help from the willing volunteers as well as enjoying the interaction and cultural learning experience.

The team from Japan, China, Hong Kong and Vietnam stayed in one of the buildings at the showground and worked under the guidance of a local team.   The eight volunteers came to Australia specifically for this project, arriving a day before the work began and leaving within four days to return home to work and study.  Le from Vietnam was the group leader and was supported by local IVP coordinator.

Robyn works in an office in Hong Kong and had never done labour work before so was proud of the manual skills she gained and impressed to learn about the infrastructure required for a big show and how everything had to be done very precisely.  She now knows how to build a fence.

Kelly, also from Hong Kong, enjoyed learning about how to handle animals and loved the interaction with the local people. She and Robyn enjoyed the new experience of sleeping on the grass in the afternoon, watching the blue sky and white clouds and thinking ‘this is life’.  

Taku also enjoyed the green and open space that is so unlike where he lives in Tokyo.  Being the only male in the group he was called upon to do a lot of the heavier work. Chunai learned that Australian culture is very different to her own back in rural China. She said; ‘it really opened my eyes, things here are really good, I really learnt something here, but it will be a little difficult to bring it back to China.’

The girls from Japan had no experience with animals and were even afraid of them.  But after first helping with the day-old chickens, holding a baby wombat and kangaroo, then patting the alpacas, their fear gave way to delight.   They were impressed with the way Australians treat animals and consider them on the same level as humans. Le says: ‘I want to bring this love of animals to Vietnam.’

The volunteers found it difficult to cope with extreme changes of weather from one day to the next and all found the strong sun a challenge.  The work was sometimes hard and they felt they would not manage it but were encouraged and supported by the experienced Show committee. Although exhausted at the end of the two weeks they felt a great sense of accomplishment.

The volunteers cooked for themselves on a roster basis and the Show committee had the pleasure to be invited for Japanese curry, Shanghai dumplings, Vietnamese pancakes. And the barbeque put on by the Aussie team on the last night was a big hit.

IVP projects aim to create paths to peace through intercultural understanding and this one was no different with a lot of prejudice being broken down while working together. They developed great friendships within the team and loved getting to know the locals. The Australian volunteers gained an insight into different Asian cultures.  

On a day off in the middle of the first week a bus was provided to take the team to Canberra, Australia’s capital, where they visited Parliament House and were fascinated to sit in on a session of parliament.  They also visited the National Museum where there was a wonderful exhibition of Aboriginal art.

The Show was a great success and so was the involvement of the volunteers. We look forward to a workcamp at this site next year.   




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