Moving from China to Australia over two years ago, Zhenyu Wang was following his mother’s advice in how he could give back to his new community – and so he started volunteering with In Great Company. The rest, as they say, is history!
When did you get involved with IGC? What motivated you to get involved?
I joined IGC in March 2020, I love helping people and I wanted to become a volunteer to have a meaningful experience, and to get involved in my community. I originally came to Tasmania from China to study marketing for 2 and a half years, and remain here whilst my family still lives in China.
What attracted you to IGC in particular?
I had never heard of Feros Care or In Great Company before, however I was looking to do some volunteering and saw an advertisement on the university website, and thought it looked like a friendly organisation.
What motivates you to stay involved?
After visiting Maria, I always feel proud that I can make a difference in her life. Maria is a wise and kind person, and has a lot of life experience, which she shares with me and I learn a lot from her so I get as much as she does from our visits.
Tell us a bit about your clients; how many are you visiting? What activities do you do together?
I am currently only visiting Maria each week and have been visiting since October last year. She has 2 sons that live in Tasmania but she doesn’t always see them so she loves the time we spend together framing photos of her family and placing them on her wall. As she lives alone, these pictures are a comfort to her. Other days we just like having conversations about each other’s lives.
Of what contribution or achievement are you most proud?
Maria had a tough time by injuring her knee a while ago and she was quite upset whilst in recovery. However, my weekly visits helped immensely by telling her stories and making her laugh.
Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement? In providing inspiration?
I speak with my mother back in China every 2 to 3 days, and she is a great inspiration to me. She is well educated and when I talk to her she gives me great advice. My mother is a volunteer in China, and
advised me to contribute to the community by volunteering when I came to Australia. It is a fulfilling way to give back.
Do you have an anecdote about your volunteering journey so far that really moved you?
The story I have that really moved me, was when I went free diving a while back and caught some fresh abalone. I took it over to Maria’s house and cooked it for her and we shared it together.
She had never had abalone before, only lobster and prawns so she absolutely loved it. To see the joy it gave her was a moving experience for me.
Do you have any messages to share? Tips or tricks?
The best advice I would give to someone when volunteering with seniors is not to treat them as a vulnerable person, or an incapable person, because even though they are vulnerable they have
dignity and if you treat them like your friend, and don’t patronise or fuss over them too much, it is far more appreciated than treating them as unable to be independent in any
way. Maria and myself have fun like friends do and even tease each other with the banter that friends do. Be authentic with them.
In Great Company want to thank Wang, and all our other volunteers who make a difference to clients’ lives with their visits.