Volunteers make huge contribution
The numbers associated with the University of Adelaide's volunteers are in themselves impressive - but they don't tell the whole story of the impact volunteers make.
In 2009, more than 1800 volunteers working across all segments of the University contributed some 210,000 hours of their time - equivalent to a contribution of more than $4.6 million.
According to Volunteers Patron Lindsay McWha, this giving of time shows the esteem in which the University is held and how well it engages with the society around it.
"Volunteers - many of whom are alumni, but many who are not - help in different ways to make the University of Adelaide the great institution it is," she said.
"The University reaches into all aspects of public life and our hundreds of volunteers reinforce that engagement with the broader community.
"A good example of this is the work done by our University tour guides, who are managed by the Development and Alumni office.
"We have around 10 tour guides, who are enthusiastic about the University and its history, and really enjoy introducing visitors, both local and international, to the campuses. They are available, often at short notice, to show people around and give them an opportunity to experience first-hand the history, the buildings and the influence of benefactors that make our University unique."
Two current students who volunteer for the University, on top of busy study loads, are third-year Medical student Mo Li and final-year Molecular Biology student Angie Jarrad.
As well as numerous other commitments, the pair work as peer mentors for the International Student Centre's twice-yearly orientation programs.
International Student Advisor Hedley Reberger said the programs, recognised by the Federal Government as a leading example of international student orientation, were a major exercise in volunteering logistics and development.
"For our February intake this year, we had 33 volunteers perform an estimated 2700 hours of volunteering to help 1200 new international students," he said.
"Its success is largely driven by the students, like Mo and Angie, who volunteer their time to help out. We ask them what they think the incoming students need to know and then it's up to them to deliver it.
"We find that not only do the new students benefit from the program, but the volunteers do as well - they gain new personal skills and knowledge that help them in all aspects of their life."
Mo, who comes from Beijing and also sings with the Adelaide University Medical Orchestra, said her experience as an international student, originally at Bradford College and then the University, helps her understand the needs of new international students.
"It can be very daunting for an international student to begin their new life away from home and their family and friends," she said.
"What I like is that through our orientation program, I can help these students as they settle in and make them feel part of the University community."
Angie, who is also President of the Adelaide University Athletics Club, said the benefits obtained from volunteering far outweighed any impositions.
"You don't volunteer to get something out of it for yourself - but at the same time you do achieve a kind of personal growth, which is satisfying," she said.
"For me, volunteering requires your time - but the time cost is far outweighed by the positive impact it can have on other people."
Story by Ben Osborne