National Volunteer Week celebrates 30 years this month with the theme of ‘making a world of difference.’ As we take the opportunity to recognise our volunteers’ generous contributions, one of the University’s longest serving volunteers, Ron Seidel, reflects on his time with the Talking With Aussies program.
Through educational initiatives, committees and boards, as well as being director of the Graduate Entrepreneurial Program educational initiative, Ron Seidel has a long association with the University of Adelaide. His impact across the University is profound, particularly in his volunteering efforts with Talking With Aussies.
Ron’s own experiences working and travelling overseas first inspired him to get involved with the University of Adelaide’s international students.
“I had been welcomed privately and professionally in many countries and my childhood experiences reflect some of the issues that new international students may also face.”
“So, it seemed a natural step to become a volunteer at the University where my experiences might help support educational programs and, in particular, those coming to study at Adelaide,” he said.
During his 20 years as a volunteer, Ron estimates he’s been paired with more than 20 international students over the years. He is also still in touch with many of them.
“In recent years, all of the students have been PhD candidates and so the relationship continues for some years and follows them through their personal and professional lives,” he said.
These relationships have endured the test of time, with Ron and his wife Marilyn maintaining an album of wedding and baby photos from his alumni. They stay in touch with many of the past students and most recently hosted one of Ron’s first students and their family for lunch over Easter.
“I send the alumni greeting messages for the Lunar New Year, Ramadan and Nowruz and get many responses.
“Many of them are now in academic positions around the world, or in senior positions across industries and businesses, it’s amazing what they’re now doing.
“A few years ago I was thrilled that one of my students, a highly capable and hard-working Higher Degree Research student, won the University Gold Medal,” said Ron.
Reflecting on his experiences volunteering with the Talking With Aussies program, Ron says he simply, “enjoys meeting and talking with the international students and sharing experiences.”
“Our present conversations span culture, politics and economics, cooking, gardening, music, and buying and maintaining a house.
“If there is some little thing I can say that helps them along their journey in life, then I am truly satisfied,” he said.
Find out more about volunteering with the University of Adelaide here.
Find out more about the Talking With Aussies program here.