University can be such a boring or even isolating experience for some people. But I’m here to tell you that if you feel bored or isolated at UWS, there are exciting ways to get involved in active campus life, and that if you believe yourself and have a vision, anything is possible.
You see, before I started university, I thought it would be like the movie – there would be sororities you could join, a cheerleading team, clubs and societies on campus, and a massively fun and active campus life. So you can imagine the disappointment when I got to UWS and discovered that campus life was nothing like the movies, and was in fact somewhat lacking. Most people didn’t stay on campus after class, because there was nothing to do, and there was nothing to do because nobody stayed around campus. It was like a never ending circle of inactivity leading to apathy. I always heard from classmates “UWS sucks” “I’m transferring out” “it’s so dead here” and indeed many of them did end up transferring out to other universities.
It was at that point that I realized that something had to be done to make UWS a more lively and fun place. I started talking to other likeminded people and soon there was group of us who wanted to see more fun and interesting activities on campus. We had our first meeting at the foodcourt in Parramatta Westfield and we decided to hold a talent show at UWS. We named it “UWS Ultimate Talent” in honour of our university and our belief in the talents of the students here.
We organised ourselves to hold meetings with the university admin, to hold promotion days and apply for funding so we could make it happen. It was, at times, a long and difficult journey, with many trials and tribulations along the way. Not only was it difficult to deal with staff and students at the university who did not believe in our vision, but it was also a considerable effort to keep everyone motivated and focused especially after we experienced many setbacks. Some people decided not to help out as much, since everything was entirely volunteer based, and they could’ve been working and earning money during the same amount of time. We also struggled to promote the event. While many students were supportive of our efforts there were a also many who literally laughed in our faces, saying things such as “why do you bother”, “nah I’m not interested in UWS stuff”, “UWS is a hole anyway” etc. It can be really disheartening when you have spent weeks designing event flyers, printing them out in beautiful colours and have spent the past few days volunteering your free time in between or after classes to hand out those flyers in the hot sun, then see people throwing them on the ground or in the bin. It was also difficult when university staff rejected our initial funding application saying things such as to you “do you think people will even turn up?” or “students are not interested in these things”. It was stressful and disappointing to constantly deal with negative people who denigrated our efforts, even though we were trying our best to make it work.
But we pushed on, and eventually our funding application was approved, and slowly more students said they would come and started liking our event page on facebook. After three months of tireless work, attending weekly meetings, volunteering and promotion, the big day of the UWS Ultimate Talent Event arrived. It was nerve racking and I must admit, at times like those, doubts start to surface in your mind “what if nobody turns up”, “what if they were right when they said no one will attend” or “no one’s coming- what am I doing here”. In the end though, those doubts were for naught since from the very beginning of the event, the turnout was MASSIVE, and the HUB at UWS Parramatta was packed! Students were pouring into the HUB to find seats around the stage an hour before the event even began! From the door entries over 400 students rocked up to support the event and cheer on their fellow students. It was truly awesome to see such involvement from the student community at UWS.
After the event, everyone, both students and staff alike came up to congratulate us saying “Great event” “hope this happens again”, “when are you guys organising another one, can I help out” etc. People were being so appreciative of us, patting us on the back and everything! We were treated like UWS royalty! Even the people who ridiculed our efforts and said no one would turn up ended up attending and cheering people on as well!
So in the end, despite the naysayers, and despite the fact that none of us were paid for our time or effort, overall it was a positive experience. Everyone who helped out became good friends and we all learnt new skills that we’ll be able take with us when we graduate from uni. Our UWS Ultimate Event even won the “Best Event of 2012” Award from the university, and we were invited to the UWS Awards dinner to receive the award. Also on a personal level, from my experience helping out with this event I discovered a lot. I discovered that if you want something to happen you have to make it happen. As Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you wish to see”. I’ve learnt to appreciate the value of sacrifice and of staying resilient in the face of negative vibes. Of both taking positions of leadership and being part of a team. I discovered that exciting ways to get involved in active campus life are out there, and that if you just believe yourself and have a vision, anything is possible. We are more than just gen Y life forms walking around pointlessly in meat suits. We are all powerful spiritual beings, inherently capable of greatness. My advice to you? Get out there. Do it. You are the only one that can make it happen!
Jing Chen is a passionate believer of Equality, Justice and Student Rights. She is a third year Law and Social Science student currently studying at UWS Parramatta campus and was a volunteer within the UWS Ultimate Talent Team