A chat with Gill Carter, one of the Global Awareness Volunteer on her way to South Africa
Hi Gill, first of all, can you introduce yourself, where you are from, what you do?
Hi there! I’m Gill, I’m 20 and I’m one of the lucky ones heading to South Africa. I’m originally from a village just outside Mullingar but have fled the coop and am currently studying down in UCC, Cork. I absolutely love everything about the place and am studying International Development and Food Policy. I’m just finished my first year and have had an excellent time studying a course based around the world of development.
Next month you're going to South Africa as part of the Global Awareness Programme. Are you excited about that? Is that your first volunteer abroad experience?
Excitement is an understatement! I still can’t believe it! It’s not even just the 9 weeks volunteering that I’m excited about though, I can’t wait to start the awareness part and to get thrown into to it all, it’s going to be a great experience and I truly cannot wait for it to begin! I’ve had some volunteer experience before, two years ago I went to rural Romania with a youth group to work in a disability centre and community project, it was great but was really only a taster of volunteering because it was for a short period, I find it good to have a little experience behind me so I have some knowledge on what to expect but I cant wait to go to South Africa simply because the project is so unbelievably interesting and worthwhile. I can’t wait to get out there and get stuck into it all!
Why did you decide to apply for this programme and what are you expecting from this volunteer experience?
After a year studying about development issues it makes you realise that the only way to combat poverty and its related issues is to take action. I decided that I wanted to get first hand experience; I wanted to understand how people live in undeveloped countries, I had done so much reading and research so when I saw the Global Awareness programme I knew it would be the best opportunity to experience everything I had studied. I also wanted to make the most of my summer, I wanted to feel accomplishment and satisfaction that I had done something for the summer.
I’m expecting to learn and to be educated, I expect to experience a totally new and different culture and to be honest, I can’t wait! I really expect to be a little changed on my return, hopefully more realistic and experienced as a person. I look forward to learning and getting stuck in which will hopefully make me even more passionate about my studies and other elements of my life. In short, I anticipate to be challenged, to grow and eventually encourage others to do the same.
On your return to Ireland, you will be leading an Awareness Raising Campaign. What do you think about making your community more aware of HIV&AIDS issues? How important do you think public action is?
I am so excited about the awareness raising element of this programme, I feel it will be just as rewarding as the volunteering in South Africa because it so relevant in our own culture too. I anticipate to do a lot of awareness raising about HIV&AIDS around my college, I think this is important and will be a great success as student are often quite open-minded and eager to get involved with campaigns. If we can try eliminate stigma and the associated misconceptions about HIV & AIDS when people are at college it can make for a more unprejudiced and understanding society in the future.
The importance for public action is beyond words, people need to unite, and power is in numbers after all and so the more people taking action the better. Public action is so important in order to break down the barriers that already exist and to build a society which see’s the real situation of HIV/AIDS. People joining together and doing something no matter how big or small is a step in the right direction to realise that HIV/AIDS is not only an issue in the developing world, it is an issue for the here and now, the me and you.