AFTER taking part in the trip of a lifetime, Hilda Wayne is determined to make a difference back home.
The Gosnells resident was one of 1000 students from around the world who took part in this year’s University Scholars Leadership Symposium, held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok.
Delegates discussed the UN’s sustainable development goals of quality education, gender equality, climate change, ending poverty and water and sanitation improvement, and heard from previous delegates about their experiences.
Ms Wayne said the conference appealed to her as she had always tried to help those who needed it, both in her native Papua New Guinea and since she arrived in WA in 2008.
“I come from a country where I know what it’s like to be vulnerable and I had a different perception coming to Australia but I was mistaken,” she said.
“Coming from one country to another, people are vulnerable everywhere we live. I just wanted to learn from the other delegates, organisers and speakers.
“It was nice to talk to the former participants, I think there were four or five invited back to share the experience and what they were doing in terms of working with vulnerable communities in mainly third world countries.”
The Curtin University student, who has been involved in numerous volunteer projects and helped establish the Papua New Guinea Association of Western Australia, said helping people was “personally rewarding”.
“To touch someone’s life, you don’t have to do big things. I like trying to reach out to someone who is in need, not because I have much, but because what I’ve got in terms of finance, feeding someone, even talking to someone,” she said.
“Working with the homeless is the one thing which has really touched me, it’s easy for us to look at homeless people and judge them, but they have stories behind their situations and I only got to know that when I started volunteering.”
Ms Wayne said she was also very appreciative of the City of Gosnells, who provided some last-minute sponsorship to ensure the trip went ahead.
“I was at the point where I was going to say ‘cancel the trip altogether’ because I didn’t have the funds,” she said.
“It was a vote of confidence in my ability by the City and I feel I need to give back and give more with that sort of sponsorship.”