Hi, my name is Ridhay and I am currently in my final semester of a Bachelor of Business (Management) and Bachelor of Business (Marketing) double degree.
The Humanitarian Affairs Symposium
In August this year, I was fortunate enough to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium held in Hanoi, Vietnam. Over seven days, the symposium brought together more than 700 delegates from 69 different countries and focused on how we can all make an impact on the humanitarian issues surrounding us. I cannot recall a moment where I have ever used the phrase ‘life changing,’ but I truly believe that the experiences I shared with my fellow delegates has transformed my perspective, as well as my understanding of the world and my role within it.
I was privileged to experience stories from speakers such as David Begbie, Tim Peters, Lina Khalifeh, Shandara Woworuntu and so many more. Topics ranged from North Korean defectors, to the sex slave industry and self-defence workshops for women. The speakers were all well versed in their fields and truly demonstrated the many possibilities to impact change at the local, micro and macro level. It is not always easy to know where certain roads lead, but if I follow in the footsteps of these speakers, I have a lot to aspire to. Whilst the range of humanitarian works were often confrontational, they were also immensely inspiring.
As part of the symposium itinerary, an entire day was dedicated to a ‘Learning Journey’. Choosing one of five different activities, we all engaged in a different form of community service. My activity involved going out to Hoa Binh province and assisting in the construction of a two-part road which connected to a bridge. I was requested to assist in leading a team of approximately 25 people, which involved constantly running between four different sub-teams and translating between an interpreter, the locals and my fellow delegates on what to actually do. In addition to this, I was also assisting with shovelling and moving wheelbarrows of rocks for hours on end. I like to pretend that I am a relatively fit person, but despite making plans for the night, the moment I reached my bed, I instantly passed out.
Despite all the fun and enjoyment I had during the conference, through this experience I had the chilling realisation that after only one day of strenuous physical labour, I was able to return to a nice hotel and go to sleep. Unfortunately however, for a large portion of the world’s population, this is merely a daily routine. We often acknowledge the plight of our fellow human beings, but by having a small taste of the reality of others, I promised myself not to take my life for granted.
Putting yourself ‘out there’
When first starting my degree, I spent virtually no time at university. Simply attending classes and (most of) my lectures, I disappeared the moment the minute hand hit 12. Eventually, I realised that there were so many opportunities begging me to explore them, and so I decided to join the Non-Residential Colleges, volunteer with Access Monash, and participate in the student committees and events (just to name a few!).
While knowing almost no one at first, I found that everywhere I went, people usually had a big smile on their face and were eager to show me around and include me in activities. Throughout the course of my degree, I have gone from seeing university as a transitional period from high school to the workforce, to a community in which I have made lifelong friends, become a mentor to high school students, been mentored by business professionals and much more. I know that I have merely scratched the surface of the differing programs that are offered, but I am really grateful for all the people who have guided me and our shared journeys along the way.
Finding that balance
During my final year I have also started working in the Human Resources department. With so much going on, I have found that there has been an immense amount of pressure either from my work, study or social life (usually all three simultaneously). Although I am still learning how to manage my various commitments, there are a few key aspects that I have found necessary for juggling everything:
- Enjoying everything I do
- Working efficiently and effectively
- Making sure I take the time to relax and unwind
While it’s often exhausting and difficult, I have absolutely loved every group, activity and society I have been a part of. Without a true passion for these things, I would have certainly burnt out after a few weeks.
There have also often been instances where I’ve had only a single night to complete an entire essay. In these instances, I would turn off my phone and close my bedroom door, focusing entirely on the subject at hand. You would be surprised at how much work can be completed when you don’t open Facebook every three minutes!
I also always set aside every Friday and Saturday night – whether it’s to catch up with friends or even just staying home and watching movies. Whatever work you think desperately needs to be done, can usually always be held off for a few hours, in order to maintain your sanity.
My final thoughts
Over the past few years, I have become a living testimony to the cliché ‘you only get out of life, what you put into it.’ From knowing very few people at university and simply attending classes, to making some of my closest friends, international trips and living within a much larger community, I can honestly say that my most cherished memories are the ones where I jumped into the deep end and eventually learned how to swim. My only advice would be to take a chance, join those clubs, and volunteer at those events, you will never know exactly where it might lead you.