Volunteering escapade

Rather than escaping the winter chills of Melbourne these holidays, I am occupying myself with volunteer work, plans to travel at the end of this year and reading for leisure.

This week, I had the delightful opportunity to volunteer at a general practitioner’s seminar. My Aunt works at the Australian Chinese Medical Association Victoria (ACMAV) and because she felt unwell, she managed to get me involved in helping her out on the night. The seminar was held at Quanjude, a pecking duck restaurant, and it was about medico-legal risk education. Having the opportunity to meet doctors and medical students whilst conversing over nice food and an educational presentation was eudaemonia. After meeting and greeting the coordinator for medical student volunteers, he was more than happy to take me on board for future events – I can’t wait!

Today, I picked up my volunteer package and attended the mandatory training session for AIDS 2014, the 20th international AIDS conference, held here in my hometown of Melbourne. Initially, I had thoughts of dropping out of my shifts. However, the induction changed my mind and now I want to make the most out of my volunteer benefits. Not only are volunteers provided with free lunch, we are granted access equivalent to delegates that pay around $600 for the six-day conference. One of the most anticipated high level speakers at AIDS 2014 is ex-president Bill Clinton, who will be talking about Put[ting] patient’s health first to improve outcomes and programme efficiency on Wednesday 12.10pm at Plenary 2. I also met an MD1 student who completed an honours degree in biomedicine on HIV/AIDS after collecting my badge, which was wonderful to hear her experiences. However, she made me aware of the tragic news of flight MH17, which took the lives of about 100 medical researchers, health workers and activists, who were bound for AIDS 2014. Of the 298 on board, 28 were confirmed Australian and so far, 10 of those were Victorians. No doubt, this news will set a sombre mood for the whole length of the conference and requires collective commiserations extended towards the international community. That being said, lest we forget those aboard both MH370 and MH17.

Of late, I am planning to go overseas with a handful of biomed friends this summer. There is this medical volunteering/internship program called Gap Medics that I am interested in that offers placements in Czech, Tanzania and Thailand, where we would shadow doctors for 1-4weeks. Of those, Thailand seems to cater us best, despite the political tensions and the martial law. As of now, I am thinking of completing a two-week course with GapMedics in Chiangmai, travelling around Bangkok and Phuket for a week and possibly visit Korea for a week or two.

So far I have finished George R.R. Martin’s A Game Of Thrones (the first book in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series) and I have started on Martin’s A Clash Of Kings (the second book in the series). I don’t usually read, so I have grown a respect for those who are able to blitz through books thicker than the dictionary.



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