Last updated: 8 June, 2020

International students lend a helping hand during lockdown

Under lockdown, the University of Canterbury's Student Volunteer Army (SVA) has mobilised to assist vulnerable people in the community.

Jingjing Chen and Jess Pollock are two of the many international students that make up the ranks of the SVA.

During lockdown, they delivered groceries, medication and other essential supplies to those in the Christchurch community who could not leave the house themselves due to health reasons or self-isolation rules.

“It’s not a very hard or time-consuming job,” Jingjing says. “It’s cool to do something during lockdown instead of nothing! Giving makes me feel better during this time.”

Jess, who also volunteers for the SPCA, agrees.

“I’m always interested in helping the community,” she says. “I really wanted to use my time productively.”

Jingjing and Jess are currently studying towards the University of Canterbury's Post-Graduate Diploma of Primary Teaching.

Neither student seriously considered returning home after the announcement of Alert Level 4 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

For Jingjing, the 10-hour flight home to China represented more of a health risk than staying put.

And Jess, who hails from Canada, didn’t want to depart New Zealand without the chance to come back and finish her course.

“School is really important to me,” she says. “There’s no need for me to relocate.”

Student President of the SVA, Isabella Fanselow, says international students play a crucial role in the club’s work.

“I would even go so far to say that our most engaged members are international students,” she says.

Under Alert Level 3, the Christchurch branch of the SVA will continue to deliver medication and groceries to those who need it, as well as childcare to the healthcare and essential workers.

They’ve also partnered with New World, Z Energy and more to offer a nationwide delivery service to those impacted by COVID-19. The new SVA Grocery Delivery Service already has 2500 and has completed hundreds of orders.

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