by Gareth Hughes
Today I got to spend time with the students and organisers behind the Volunteer Student Army in Christchurch as they wound down major operations.
Organised by Canterbury students, the student army recruited hundreds of volunteers, including a Green Party contingent to shovel liquifacted soil, leaflet, and door knock in areas badly affected by Christchurch’s devastating earthquake.
The Earthquake has brought considerable tragedy and heart-break to Christchurch but also a great deal of inspiration.
I saw columns of students returning with their spades and wheelbarrows to HQ where a concert had been organised. O-week with its usual array commercial bands, comedians, hypnotists unfortunately had to be cancelled this year – but what the students got this year was so, so much better. Last night The Black Seeds Barnaby Weir popped in for an impromptu gig, and I know tonight they’ll be stocked with their secret guests.
The volunteers and organisers I met today represent the nation at its best. Simple and humble community-service and hard-work mixed with cutting edge online tools and organisational software (with a large dose of fun mixed in). They all deserve medals.
The image of the lazy, selfish, and drunk student or the inept and corrupt student association so favoured of ACT and National Party arguments is well and truly busted.