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Volunteer work

By Brian O'Callaghan

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Two weeks ago, Colleen, Zac, Cassie, Britt, Samanvay, Jaime, Dr Sakhaee and I departed on a journey which would take us to the literal opposite side of the world. Our journey would see us meet inspired young people from every corner of the globe on the United Nations General Assembly floor, engage in collaborative leadership conversations with our colleagues at Penn State University and learn from experts on how to bring real positive action for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Of course, our trip was also rounded out by exploring the city that never sleeps and engaging in the ‘cultural experiences’ made famous by American TV.

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Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Stella McCartney, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks.

What do said multi-millionaires have in common? Before they ascended into the upper echelons of the world’s most influential people they were – brace yourself – interns.

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Would you shave your head for charity? I've just lost my locks for my favourite animal causes, but there's less drastic ways to get involved too...

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Image: students, staff and alumni pack birthing kits in the Great Hall, for distribution in Africa.

Many students enter university with the desire to save the world – by no means an easy feat! There are countless issues, from human rights abuses to environmental concerns, and the scale of the challenge can sometimes cause starry-eyed idealism to diminish.

But student life offers some great ways to make a difference...

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This week I spoke with four extraordinary young alumni, Emma Collenbrander, Katerina Kimmorley, Monique Alfris and Jamie Chivers, who joined forces in 2012 with a mission to eradicate energy poverty in India through their social business venture, Pollinate Energy.

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Where can your medical studies at Sydney Uni take you? Brooke Sachs (pictured) is a stage three medical student based at the Royal North Shore Hospital, founder of the rural youth mentoring initiative ‘Avenir’, and the Vice-Chair of the Australian Youth Forum Steering Committee. Despite this daunting workload, she’s made time to do a quick Q&A with us!

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It is common, when listening to talk back radio or reading opinion articles in the newspaper, to hear about how bad young people are today. We are often criticised for being overstimulated, underdressed and ruled by a doctrine of individualism. Figures like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are taken to be representations of us all and therefore the positive things we have and can achieve are overlooked.

This is why it was refreshing to hear Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia, and Anne Robinson, Chair of World Vision Australia, speak on campus last week about the potential they see in our generation. Under the leadership of our generation society will not (as they say) go to hell in a hand basket, but will have its best chance yet of fighting the crippling effects of powerlessness and poverty.

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I’m sitting at my computer on one of the beautiful mornings of stuvac, building up the courage to start studying for my impending exams. Meanwhile, outside my little bubble, a revolution is taking place.

The clues are everywhere – Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, the green reusable shopping bag frenzy and John Howard’s recent proposal to build a $400 million solar plant that can deliver 154 megawatts of power.

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For those of you who are regular readers, you might remember a blog entitled 'Am I an idiot?’ I now have a definitive answer: YES!!!

Last Friday morning I was amongst 1784 people who undertook the challenge of walking 100km for charity. Sadly, 20% of them did not complete the challenge for various reasons. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is so difficult to describe the physical and mental pain that I was experiencing. Give me 6 exams in 5 days any time!!

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Am I an idiot??

11 May

I am someone who likes a challenge. There was that cute Melbourne guy in 2003, a half marathon in 2004, triathlon in 2005. Now there’s the 100km Oxfam trail walker in 2006!!

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