1000th Griffith student takes up the challenge

Engineering student Elliot Jones working as a volunteer in Zimbabwe
Engineering student Elliot Jones working as a volunteer in Zimbabwe

Bachelor of Engineering student, Elliot Jones, is packing his bags for the study experience of a lifetime.

The Griffith Honours College student is heading to Vietnam to take part in the ENACTUS Volunteering Abroad Project, and he is the 1000th Griffith student this year to take up the opportunity for an overseas learning experience. ENACTUS is an international student not-for—profit organisation which aims to make a difference to local, national and international communities. The Griffith chapter has more than 150 active student members.

Take the plunge

“There are lots of opportunities at Griffith for overseas trips and different social services,” Elliot said.

“I encourage everyone to make the most of those overseas learning opportunities as part of their university experience. You will get so much more out of your life as a student.”

Elliot received funding support for his trip through the Griffith Global Mobility initiative and the Vice Chancellors International Experience Incentive Scheme.

He leaves on the 21st of December and won’t be back in Australia until 9 January 2014.

“My family wishes I was going to be home for Christmas, but they don’t really mind that I’ll be away as I am developing my skills as well as working in the communities,” Elliot said.

Volunteering and cultural awareness projects

Facilitated through the Griffith Honours College, and in partnership with the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City and the Vietnamese Australian Graduates Association, the students will work on a range of volunteering and cultural awareness projects.

“As part of the Community Internship program I have organised for us to raise funds and plant trees as part of the re-forestation project in the Cat Tien National Park. We will also travel to the Mekong River Delta to work on an AUSAID funded restoration project there,” Elliot said.

As Elliot is majoring in Environmental Engineering, he is particularly looking forward to working with specialists in the field.

“There are a couple of different aspects to this trip; we will be volunteering at a rehabilitation centre for animals including rhinos, monkeys and chimps, as well as taking part in a vegetation rehabilitation program.”

Working for a sustainable future

This might seem a long way from studying engineering, but Elliot says that isn’t so.

“Environmental Engineering is important as it aims to create a sustainable future. Further to this, everyone needs the environment to live, so it also can be a way of creating and promoting social justice in the world.”

Elliot is just one of a growing army of Griffith students participating in global experience programs which include exchange, short term programs, placements, internships and study tours. In fact, there has been a 30% increase in the number of students participating in just the past year.

As an example, 185 Griffith Health Students have taken the opportunity to make a global difference by completing their Clinical Placements or Practicums overseas in countries such as Mexico, Peru, South Africa, Vietnam, Nepal, among others.

Giving back to others

And while this will be Elliot’s first international project as a Griffith student, it is by no means his first experience as an overseas volunteer.

“I volunteered in Zimbabwe for six months during my gap year in 2012. I worked in primary schools in a teaching capacity and I also had the opportunity to volunteer with a Christian youth group.”

Once he graduates Elliot would like to continue making a difference by working for a not-for-profit organisation or on community development projects.

“Those are my main goals at the moment. I think giving back to others is the most fulfilling and satisfying work you can do.”