No.21, February 2017
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A passion for development

Dr Jacqueline Parisi brings a wealth of management, NGO and development experience to her new role as VSA’s Director of International Development.

Jacqueline took up the position in January, replacing International Programme Manager Junior Ulu. Her motivation for taking on the job was quite simple, she says: “I love working in development and am passionate about capacity building, social impact and alleviating poverty.”

For much of the past three years she has been working as Executive Director of The Impact Effect in Thailand and New Zealand, and has helped build three social enterprises. One project in Maowangdong... Read more>
The fears and thrills of volunteering
In 2007, Bridget Isichei arrived in the northern Vanuatu shanty town of Luganville to begin training preschool teachers.

“The thought of moving by myself to a remote island to do a VSA assignment was at first terrifying,” she says. “I was 26 and had always wanted to do something to make the world better.”

In her first month she found 22 hot, overcrowded kindergartens sprinkled through the town and surrounding jungle. Her enduring memory, however, was of the low status of the women who ran them.

When they enrolled in a correspondence teaching course, local opposition was fierce. Over the next two years the challenge wasn’t just to train the women but to shift age-old community perceptions.

Road No Good is Ms Isichei’s account of her assignment, written seven years after her return to New Zealand. It is much more than just a travel diary. She captures the sights, sounds and rhythm of Vanuatu and its people. She describes the fears and thrills of volunteering and has a knack for reflecting on those moments when cultural differences throw one’s own life and beliefs into such sharp relief.

Road No Good is also her personal story: “I learnt from the women that it is possible to develop great resilience even through unimaginable hardship.”

The book was runner-up in the Finch Memoir Prize 2016. VSAers in the Bay of Plenty are
invited to its New Zealand launch on 24 February (see below).
  • Road No Good by Bridget Isichei. Finch Publishing, 1 February 2017. pp242.
The awkwardness of moral saints
Larissa Macfarquhar, a writer at the New Yorker magazine, is intrigued by people who try and do good in the world. In Strangers Drowning, a Guardian and Sunday Times Book of the Year, she combines profiles of a kidney donor, adoptive parents and others while reflecting on people whose self-sacrifice and ethical commitment go far beyond what most of us think as normal.

Why is it, for instance, that while we admire generosity and high ideals, calling people 'do-gooders' implies scepticism, even hostility? Or, is it better to relieve suffering by travelling to Africa to open a clinic or to find the highest-paying job you can and give away most of your salary?

Reviewers have described Strangers Drowning as superb and 'a fascinating, gripping read'. Read more >

Volunteering abroad: seeking Australian and New Zealand stories
Here’s an opportunity for you to feature in a good book: Volunteering Abroad is the title of a new book that Joy Noble and Louise Rogers from Adelaide, South Australia, are planning. Both have a long association with volunteering and the concept is to produce a book of 20 or so volunteers’ stories from 800–1500 words each.

They are seeking 10 stories from New Zealand. These may include photos and could cover an entire assignment, record enjoyable experiences or recount the challenges.

No publisher has yet committed to the project but Joy and Louise already have several titles to their names and are confident this one will find a publisher too. If you are keen to write about your volunteer experience, please email Sarah Barnett at VSA.
Visitors welcome
If you have time on your hands when visiting Wellington, you're most welcome to call in to our new premises at 77 Thorndon Quay, not far from the Wellington railway station. You can make a cup of tea, say hi, check out our library or use our wi-fi. See you soon!

An assignment
for you

From a web development adviser in PNG to a water and sanitation adviser in Timor-Leste, VSA has a vacancy for you.

The 17 current vacancies include assignments in health, veterinary science, farming, records management, roading, quantity surveying, marketing, business and bricklaying.

The deadline for applications is
26 March 2017 -
ere's the full list.

Feel free to pass these listings on to friends or circulate them through your professional networks.

You can register your interest in certain types of assignment. Just complete an easy online form and you'll be emailed when a vacancy in your field comes up.

VSAConnect membership tops 1000

A Christmas influx of returned volunteers has pushed VSAConnect membership over the 1000 mark. Welcome to these volunteers who have joined us on recently returning home (click to read their VSA profiles):
Join VSA's 27,161 Facebook followers
Boxing on in Samoa
Most volunteers would agree with VSAer Thoraya Abdul-Rassol when she says you should find a personal interest to occupy your spare time when volunteering.

Few, however, would follow in Thoraya’s footsteps and take up boxing as a way to fill in those quiet moments.

Thoraya has just returned from assignment in Samoa. On a whim she joined a boxing class there and fell in love with the sport. Six months later, to the cheers of locals and other VSAers, she stepped into the ring for her first fight. Read more >.

To return or not? Bhutan re-visited
Is it wise to re-visit your country of assignment or might that shatter the good memories? Noni Callander took the plunge and went back to Bhutan where she was a volunteer resource teacher 20 years ago. Read more >

Rarotonga assignment featured
Water engineer Roanna Salunga spent six months in Rarotonga last year, working on a project to improve the island's water storage. Her assignment featured this recent North Shore Times story...

A year without hearing a voice from home
"It is hard to imagine how 'unconnected' we were from the outside world in general and home in particular," writes Roger Cowell, "but with no email or cellphones 'snail mail' was our only connection to family and friends. I didn't speak to anyone back home from the night we flew out of Auckland until returning to New Zealand a year later."

Roger, a volunteer in Tonga in 1969, was responding to the piece in last December's E-nius about Sir Edmund Hillary's aerogrammes to volunteers in pre-digital days. Read more >


Manawatu Festival of Cultures
Manawatu’s VSA branch will host a stall at Palmerston North’s annual Festival of Cultures on Saturday 4 March.

The festival in the Square will run from 10 am - 4 pm. It's always a great day out so call in and say hi. If you can help with the VSA display, email Branch secretary Lesley Batten, or ph her on 021 423 660.

Seeking conversation partners in Wellington 
A group of 60 government officials from seven developing Asian countries are seeking ‘conversation partners’ while they attend an intensive English training course in Wellington from 18 March to 16 June 2017.

The officials are from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Mainly in their 20s and 30s... Read more >

Tauranga to host launch of Vanuatu book
Road No Good, Bridget Isichei's memoir of her assignment in Vanuatu (reviewed above), will be launched in Tauranga on 24 February.

The venue is Books A-Plenty, 28 Grey Street, and the event starts at 4pm. Please RSVP to if you wish to attend. 
Returned volunteers are honorary VSA members

Returned volunteers and their accompanying partners are honorary members of VSA for the remainder of the financial year following their return from assignment, plus the following year.

Currently, that means returned volunteers who have arrived back in New Zealand since 1 July 2016 are members until 30 June 2017 (the end of the financial year), and then until 30 June 2018. To remain a VSA member after that involves paying an annual sub of $30.

One advantage of honorary membership is that those who attend VSA’s annual Congress in November have their travel and accommodation costs paid.
E-nius is sent to VSAConnect members who have supplied email addresses
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