‘The Most Intellectually Stimulating Environment Since University’: Orientation wraps for new volunteers.

‘The Most Intellectually Stimulating Environment Since University’: Orientation wraps for new volunteers.

Another New Year has come and with it our first orientation course of 2019. 10 participants, 9 days and around 20 sessions contributed to a successful week of personal and professional discernment of our role in community development for communities in our region and further afield.

Palms’ orientation course is a comprehensive program of cross-cultural training and volunteer preparation. The course equips participants with the best available tools and perspectives to be an effective agent of change for the communities who have requested their unique skill set.

Course participants Gabby Rankin (volunteering in Balibo), Peter and Alida Cowan (Myanmar) and Keith Falconer (still discerning).

Sydney local Paula Evans said the course “has opened up a whole new world for me and I can’t wait to explore it”. Paula is still discerning where this new world may take her. Alida Cowan, who will be volunteering alongside her husband, Peter, in Myanmar, echoed Paula’s sentiment that this course is a step in exploring the next stage of her life’s journey. She said “As I have walked through life, the challenges I have faced, the situations I have experienced and the things I have learnt have given me strength and wisdom to draw on for the next stage of my journey.”

Palms’ preparation course is unique among volunteer preparation programs as we invite both those who have a confirmed position abroad and those who are considering whether this step is right for them and their circumstances. We are proud to deliver a program that appeals to those who are discerning as well as those looking for sessions with immediate, practical applications. We strive to engage participants in exercises of personal reflection and discussion to ensure even those who do not pursue a volunteer position with Palms have an enriching experience in the course. Peter Cowan, heading to Myanmar with Alida this year, said of the course: “This was the most intellectually stimulating environment I have been in since I left university in 1975.”

Of the attendees in this recent course, 5 participants have accepted placements with organisations in Balibo and Tibar, Timor Leste, and Pathein, Myanmar. We wish each of them the best in their journey. Balibo bound Gabby Rankin said “The knowledge and connection gained on the course is and will be invaluable.” 

Course participants in session activity at Hartzer Park Retreat centre, Bowral.

Palms’ next orientation course will be held in July, concluding with Palms’ annual Solidarity Awards. For those contemplating a placement overseas, this is the first step and you can confirm your place today.

If you would like to see firsthand the work of Palms volunteers and the communities for whom they work, join us on an Encounter tour in 2019. We have limited places still available on these small group tours of Timor Leste and Myanmar.