No.19, October 2016
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New mentoring scheme links past and present volunteers

VSA has come up with a new scheme to make the experience and resources of former volunteers available to today's VSAers.

Many volunteers return to New Zealand with training modules, templates, planning documents, guides and manuals from their assignments. Across many specialist subjects, these could be adapted by current volunteers facing similar challenges in different contexts.

VSA chief executive Gill Greer was delighted to see the scheme, ‘VSALink: mentoring volunteers’, launched in September.
“The idea of a toolbox of templates and technical expertise is something we have discussed for some time,” Gill says. “We hope it will both support current volunteers and engage returned volunteers in continuing to share their experience and skills.”

Returned volunteers are happy to share that experience in an e-mentoring role via email or skype. Returnees who have offered to take part in the scheme to date include Andrew Baker, Tony Bray, Arnold Hawkins, Pat Martin, Dana MacDiarmid, Chris Smart, Dr Hilary Smith and Laurie Williams.

The VSAConnect website has their assignment history, areas of
expertise and available resources, plus an outline of how the scheme works. It is now being promoted to serving volunteers and the wider VSA community by programme managers, at briefings, online and through newsletters. If you are a returned volunteer who would like to be part of it, please email VSAConnect coordinator Pat Martin.

Huge surge in VSA's social media reach

VSA’s digital reach has skyrocketed in recent years as the organisation increasingly uses social media to engage young New Zealanders.
Four years ago, VSA had 642 Facebook followers. It now has 26,872. A younger audience has been targeted, with 68% of VSA’s followers under 45 years of age.
Over the same period, LinkedIn followers have gone from zero to 4826.
VSA now has the largest LinkedIn following of any New Zealand not-for-profit and LinkedIn has become a key volunteer recruitment channel.
These huge increases are boosting engagement across the organisation. For instance, in the year to 30 June 2016, the number of people registering an interest in volunteering leapt by 51%. Read more >

Left: Volunteers' photos and stories on Facebook have boosted interest in volunteering.
(Photo: Paul Bedggood).
Support for returned volunteers to attend Congress 
Recently returned volunteers will have their travel and accommodation paid if they attend the VSA Congress in Wellington on 5 November.

A highlight of VSA’s calendar, Congress is an opportunity to catch up with other returnees and to hear about VSA’s plans and strategies. Volunteers and accompanying partners who have returned since November 2015 and been debriefed before 30 October 2016 are ‘VSA nominated guests'.

Entering that category on the online registration  
form will mean their travel and accommodation costs are paid.

The Congress theme this year is ‘New Zealand and the Pacific: partners for a sustainable, resilient future’.  Keynote speaker is TVNZ Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver. Other speakers include returned volunteers Shifani Sood and Jo and Warwick Bowden.

The 2016 event will again be held at the Royal Society, Turnbull Street, in Thorndon. Here’s the full programme and online registration form.
Wellington pre-Congress house warming

VSA is shifting home, and you're invited to the house warming. After nine years in our Waring Taylor Street premises, we're shifting to 77 Thorndon Quay (right) late in October. On 4 November, the Friday evening before VSA's Congress, an informal welcome will be held at our new home, from 4.30 - 6.00pm. All local return volunteers are invited. If you're in town for Congress or any other reason, come along too, but please let us know - email VSAConnect.

An assignment
for you

A bricklayer in Bougainville? How about an ICT advisor in Tonga, a farm business advisor in PNG or an English language advisor in Timor-Leste?
If you still have an urge to volunteer, VSA currently has 29 open assignments on its books.
The deadline for applications is
13 November 2016 - h
ere's the full list.

Remember that 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.
Coming events
On VSA's social calendar:

Dunedin pot luck dinner:
Otago returned volunteers and VSA members are invited to a pot luck dinner on Friday evening, 11 November in Wakari, Dunedin. Email Ken Baker for more details.

Tauranga function on 19 November
All Bay of Plenty returned volunteers are invited to a VSAConnect get-together on Saturday 19 November at the Elizabeth Street Community and Arts Centre, 169 Elizabeth St, Tauranga.

The time is from 11am to 1pm, and VSA chief executive Gill Greer and VSAConnect coordinator Pat Martin.
will attend. A light lunch will be served. Come along and meet other returned volunteers and VSA supporters in the area.

Welcome to VSAConnect

Welcome to these volunteers who have joined VSAConnect on returning home in recent months:

- Rob Algar and Janna Haan;  Adrienne Gravatt

- Warwick and Shirley Brunton (ex-Kiribati)

- Nicholas Coyne (ex-Nepal)

- Ellen Humphries; Bruce Usher and Dagmar Simon

- Bronwyn Hale; Charles and Robyn Lambert

Roanna Salunga
(ex-Cook Islands)

Vasti Venter
Join VSA's 26,877 Facebook followers
News clippings
Junior moves on
After 13 years with VSA, International Programme Manager Junior Ulu moved on at the end of August to spend more time with family and to complete his PhD over the next two years.

See the latest Vista magazine for more >


Vanuatu most popular VSA destination
Vanuatu is the most popular country for VSA volunteering and Papua New Guinea the least popular, based on the number of applications per assignment.

Generally VSA finds it easier to fill volunteer assignments in countries like Samoa, which has a strong connection through migrant population and cultural and sporting ties, as well as geographical closeness.

VSA's main recruitment difficulties in the past year were in securing volunteers for long-term technical roles in PNG, particularly in academia, medicine and IT. By contrast, some assignments proved particularly popular, with many applications for roles in Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam.

'Fly in coffee' still a handy guide
Some things haven’t changed in the world of volunteering in 50 years, as this handy guide written by a VSA teacher in Sarawak in 1967 shows.

According to the teacher, you can tell how long a volunteer has lived in the country by their reaction to discovering a fly in a cup of coffee:

  Less than 3 months:    Orders new cup of coffee
  3-6 months:                   Fishes fly out
  6-8 months:                   Avoids drinking fly
  8-10 months:                 Swallows fly with grimace
  10-12 months:               Swallows fly without noticing
  Over 12 months:           Catches more flies to enhance taste

(Source: The VSA Way: 25 Years of Volunteering Overseas. Neville Peat. 1987).

Interpersonal role model - who, me?
Many volunteers intuitively know that on assignment, it's the hard-to-measure things that can make the biggest difference to a workplace. That intuition has been confirmed by a 10-year Australian Volunteers International study which found that partner organisations highly value the 'intangibles'.

Partners identified improved work ethic, increased staff understanding of their roles, greater confidence and enthusiasm for work, better systems and processes, and exposure to and interaction with the outside world as 'critical improvements'.

According to the study, partners value that kind of capacity building more than anything, and say it was the 'interpersonal role modelling' of volunteers that made all the difference.

So, yes, it was worthwhile getting to work on time, leaving on time, completing a job properly and insisting on standards. Those things may be tricky to measure, but your partners noticed.

A chirping Vanuatu gecko highlights work to be done on waste project

If you're nostalgic for the sound of geckos, listen to this radio jingle put together by Sean Toland's waste management team in Vanuatu. The team is looking for someone in the waste engineering industry who might be interested in taking the project to the next stage.

Sean, a senior geo-environmental scientist in the Auckland office of engineering firm GHD Ltd, was based at the Luganville Municipal Office (LMC) on the island of Espiritu Santo from June 2013 to July 2014. Read more >
VSA Council election results

Following the election for VSA’s Council which took place in September, the following are declared as elected for a four-year term, beginning at the AGM at the VSA Congress on 5 November 2016:
  • Kirikaiahi Mahutariki
  • John Bowis
  • Evan Mayson
  • Dana MacDiarmid
They join the current Council members whose term completes in 2018:
  • Deidre Brookes
  • Dr Jo Cribb
  • David Glover
  • Kirsty Burnett
  • Peter Elmsly, who continues as a co-opted member until February 2017.
Farib Sos, Sandy Stephens and Simon Mark did not seek re-election, so their term is completed and they will be farewelled at the AGM on 5 November.

The VSA Council is VSA’s governing body. It meets five-six times a year and sets the organisation’s policies and strategic direction.
E-nius is sent to VSAConnect members who have supplied email addresses
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