A nine-day-long encounter with humanity.

Leadership, selflessness, generosity, kindness, and humility. The Big Lift (TBL) instils it all.

Past volunteers have described it as, “the best experience offered at UTS to any student.” As a student organisation that strives to promote their message of “paying it forward”, TBL undertakes a range of volunteering activities and service projects to help communities.

The whole idea of paying it forward means doing something good for someone else without expecting anything in return, hoping they pass it on. In July, TBL had their annual winter trip. President of TBL for 2018, Lucy Day-Williams, says: “Something that surprises me every year is just how welcoming a group of strangers is to another group of strangers … We’ve never met before, we’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times to one person, and then you turn up at the town, and it’s like we’re already a family”.

TBL, running since 2010, has visited many regional towns across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. This year, volunteers went to towns in New South Wales and Victoria. The towns visited were Mandurama, Wyangala, Whitton, Ganmain, Finley, Dingee, Hartcourt, Meredith and Skipton.

First-time volunteer Amy Wright, said: “I’ve been shocked at how much this has impacted me. I didn’t expect to go to all those small towns and experience such generosity and hospitality and kindness . . . even though what we did might’ve seemed so small to us it was something they were really grateful for.”

Shane Sachel, Principal at Meredith Primary School, said: “I just think this project is an amazing thing for people to be involved in. I think it brings together people that have the same sort of values and expectations. I think its setting a good example of paying it forward.”

Through TBL’s annual winter trips, volunteers have visited a total of 59 towns 68 times since 2010. 2017 volunteer and 2018 crew member, Daniel Snell, says: “I think every year the trip’s different. You have completely new people every single year … no one knows what to expect, so every year the participants make it their own trip, and there’s aspects about every year’s trip that are different to the past year’s.”

Michael Jimenez, another volunteer, said: “It was such a great experience, so different, it just breaks you out of your mould a little bit . . . you’re around such great people and it’s just a great experience, I would definitely recommend.”

Lucy Day-Williams says: “I won’t be part of the team next year . . . but I’m sure [The Big Lift] will continue to grow and improve so that we can keep making a positive impact for communities and UTS students”.

Applications for the 2019 Winter trip open in February.

This post was written by Aditee Hardikar, and originally appeared on The Big Lift’s blog. For more information about The Big Lift, click here.