SJ: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Salwa: My name is Salwa (She/Her). I am originally from Malang, East Java Indonesia. I am studying a Ph.D in Education and this is my last year of my study. 

 

SJ: What is Gifting Day about, and why should students get involved? 

Salwa: Gifting Day is a 24-hour social impact campaign that unites students, staff, alumni, and the community, to raise awareness and funds for nine important initiatives to create a positive change. Currently, more than $322,893 has been raised out of a $300,000 goal which is such a good achievement. 

Students should get involved by supporting the Gifting Day project as they can help spread the culture of kindness, and the power of generosity, to shape a better tomorrow in just 24 hours. 

I became a 2022 Gifting Day Ambassador by advocating for my favourite initiative through social media to inspire other students; however, other ways to show your support include donating through the Gifting Day website to one of the nine initiatives and participating in the on-campus or online events. 

 

SJ: This year was UoN’s very first Gifting Day. How did the event go? 

Salwa: The University of Newcastle held its first, and successful, Gifting Day on Wednesday, the 9th March 2022 at the Great Hall, on the Callaghan campus. There were approximately 800 individuals, businesses and organisations that came together to create a wonderful collective impact in 24 hours. It was a dedicated day of fun and fundraising activities at the University’s Callaghan campus, Ourimbah campus, NUspace and online. The activities included live music, games, stalls, a photo booth, free barbeque and other unforgettable moments and activities. 

 

SJ: What can you tell us about the initiatives that the Gifting Day was built to support? 

Salwa: There are nine priority initiatives Gifting Day was built to support. These include 2NURFM radio station, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research, Alumni House, Area of greatest need, Excellence Scholarships, Human and Social Futures Shaping Futures Scholarships, HunterWISE, Science and Engineering Challenge and Shaping Futures Scholarships. 

In addition, the University of Newcastle aspires to shape a better tomorrow guided by four fundamental values; building more connected communities, championing opportunities for all through equity, diversity, and inclusion, supporting life-changing research and creating a sustainable tomorrow. 

 

SJ: Can you tell us about what Gifting Day means to you? Why do you think it is important that we come together in this way? 

Salwa: Gifting Day means a lot to me as it is proof that there are still many beautiful souls in a world that is sometimes cruel and unfair. Gift giving is a love language – the act of giving serves as a gesture of affection and care, and it’s also an act of altruism – unselfish concern for the well-being of others. 

Therefore, in my opinion, it’s important that we come together by doing this seemingly ‘small’ philanthropic work. It starts with us and the people around us first, but it truly changes the whole world, one person at a time to eventually make an even bigger impact. 

In UoN’s first ever Gifting Day, I was very proud to be the 2022 Gifting Day Ambassador to support Shaping Futures Scholarships. I believe that everyone, regardless of their background, deserves equal educational opportunity. This scholarship enables students to undertake higher education opportunities that they may have otherwise been hard for them to access. Futures Shaping Scholarships help them achieve their dreams and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all. 

I am currently a student representative in the University’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee, and myself and the university team are committed to promoting a fairer, more inclusive and diverse future for all. I would like to thank you for all your kind donations because so far, over $52,00 was raised through Gifting Day to support students through Shaping Futures Scholarships. 

As a scholarship awardee myself, I know exactly how it feels when your dreams come true. All in all, the life- changing power of a scholarship is incredible. Therefore, let’s support this Gifting Day wonderful project. 

 

SJ: You were given the opportunity to speak as the 2022 Gifting Day Ambassador. What was that like? 

Salwa: Yes, I received an email from one of the staff members from the office of alumni and philanthropy to give a speech. At first, I was not confident as it was the first time I had to speak in front of the vice-chancellor and the staff. However, I tried my best and it was one of my most unforgettable moments in life as I was able to share my experience and passion about being a Gifting Day Ambassador. 

The event ran successfully, it was attended by the Vice-Chancellor and the President of the University of Newcastle, Professor Alex Zelinsky, AO, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Indigenous Strategy and Leadership, Nathan Towney, the Director of Advancement, Office of Alumni and Philanthropy, Rebecca Hazel, Donor Stewardship and Gifts in Wills Coordinator, Jacqueline Hamilton, and approximately 65 staff ambassadors, donors, and volunteers. This event was to celebrate and acknowledge the collective impact made by Gifting Day and the generous contribution that made it possible. 

 

SJ: Is there anything else you recommend students can do to get engaged with projects such as this, or to further the progressive development of their university or academic careers? 

Salwa: I recommend students to get involved in university projects and volunteering programs as these valuable opportunities give us hands-on experience, make an immediate impact, and work on real world projects that we do not get in the classrooms. In addition, we could meet many like-minded people and increase our communication and networking skills, time-management, and other life skills that are important for our future career. Especially for me, as an international student, I have discovered and learned many things about Australian workplace culture, internships, and intercultural communication skills that help me work in a diverse team as a global citizen. 

 

SJ: What are your achievements so far? 

Salwa: I was truly honoured that recently I received the 2022 Newcastle Volunteer Service Award in Education Category from the Hon. Sharon Claydon held on April 22nd, 2022, at the award ceremony in the South Merewether. I would also like to thank my nominators who gave me these big surprise nominations in my last year of my study. I was also selected as the winner of the 2021 Volunteer of the year in the 2021 Student Experience Award and awarded Highly Commended in the 2021 Student Employability Achievement Award.

 

SJ: Finally, is there anything else you would like to add? 

Salwa: This is my favourite quote from Kevin Kurse: 

“Life is not about getting and having, it is about giving and being” 

I strongly believe that giving without expectation of receiving anything in return, and purely just doing it in the kindness of our heart, will improve our mental health and give us happiness. It’s the one thing that people around the world are looking for. So, let’s keep spreading kindness as we rise by lifting others. Let’s Shape a Better Tomorrow! 

Stephanie Jenkins

Stephanie Jenkins

Hi, I’m Steph and I use she/her pronouns! I’m a current Creative Writing PhD student and contributor here at Opus. My favourite genre to write is fantasy, but I also love stretching my writerly muscles with reviews, think pieces, and horoscopes. When I’m not writing for Opus, you’ll probably find me with my nose in a book, nomming on some vegan banana bread, or farming my crops on Stardew Valley.

Stephanie Jenkins

Hi, I'm Steph and I use she/her pronouns! I'm a current Creative Writing PhD student and contributor here at Opus. My favourite genre to write is fantasy, but I also love stretching my writerly muscles with reviews, think pieces, and horoscopes. When I'm not writing for Opus, you'll probably find me with my nose in a book, nomming on some vegan banana bread, or farming my crops on Stardew Valley.