It's Day 3 of Student Volunteer Week! Today we're hearing from Bryan AKA Busby about how his unique 4 years of EWB shaped his university journey
Busby is in his 5th year of his BA/BE (Hons) conjoint at the University of Auckland specialising in Mechatronics Engineering and majoring in Japanese. In his 5th year of volunteering with EWB, he has been inspired to delve into the field of organisational and management and is currently the President of the Auckland Students Committee.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with me! Could you briefly summarise your journey as a student volunteer with EWB? What kind of things did you learn from each role?
Yes, I've been in four different roles in my five years volunteering with EWB. Like Mercy, I started out as an In Schools volunteer for two years, then became an In Schools Outreach Coordinator. In this transition, I found that my confidence grew immensely and I started to get really passionate about development - both self development, and the development of others. When I was appointed Vice President in my fourth year, I pursued my interest in development and introduced growth opportunities for our members in our fortnightly meetings. This included sessions on communication, open-mindedness, and self-awareness.
Out of all these roles, can you elaborate on one highlight?
I think the opportunity to talk about open-mindedness was the most rewarding moment in my five years of EWB. I really appreciated the team's enthusiasm when I introduced this topic despite my initial lack of confidence. Enabling others to start their development journey and increase their self-awareness was fulfilling. It was different to tutoring NCEA students - I wasn't teaching standard subjects, I was teaching life lessons. I felt like my passion was finally bearing fruit.
Was this what you were expecting to get out of EWB when you signed up?
Well, every volunteering experience is different. In my case, I definitely had to put in a bit of extra work while I was doing my day-to-day work with EWB like attending and coordinating school visits, and looking out for our committee members. For example, when I was the vice president, I got to work closely with Alex, our President at the time. We were in charge of making sure that the team (had everything they needed/ was well prepared) to carry out their day-to-day EWB work. Our solution was to make sure they had manageable work load, had the soft skills they needed, and maintained strong relationships with the team. This vision was conveyed through our fortnightly committee meetings. For me, running the development sessions was rewarding, but doing the planning leading up to the sessions was just as important. On top of planning for the committee sessions, the president and I invested a lot of time into discussing ideas and philosophies and bouncing around different perspectives helped me develop myself, as well.
It's amazing to see your progression and growth in your volunteering experience with EWB! Throughout you journey, you've been a full time conjoint student. How did volunteering fit into your uni work?
All throughout uni, my experiences at EWB have complemented my studies. In the first couple of years, I wanted to focus on increasing my confidence and improving my presentation skills. I could see this in my participation in group projects, and my presentations for papers like ENGGEN 204. After 3 years of volunteering, I found that I had a broader understanding of business strategy and management aspects across all my courses. For example, in courses like SCIGEN 201 and ENGGEN 403 I noticed that I was hyper-aware of of the impacts of management strategy on people and organisations. I got to apply these strategies in tangible practical situations throughout my volunteering and academic team projects. In taking a conjoint with a Bachelor of Arts, I had the opportunity to take courses that targeted management, business strategy, communication and critical thinking and I was able to properly appreciate their content because of my practical experiences.
I can only imagine all the work that has gone into this whole journey. Has it been all worth it so far?
Definitely! The moment that made it all worth it for me was the end of year committee dinner that we ran in September of 2019. After having gone through the labour of my part IV project, the celebration dinner was the light at the end of the tunnel. Seeing our committee members attend wearing faces that said "man, what a year it has been!" gave me a huge sense of satisfaction and pride in what we had accomplished. I was so so proud that we had all walked this journey together, and I couldn't wait to see what next year's journey with EWB would look like.
Thank you so much for your time Busby! I hope we can all learn something about ourselves when we volunteer!
"I felt like my passion was finally bearing fruit."
-Bryan Busby, 2020