What will our generation be remembered for? What will we leave behind? Will it be tweeting, texting and smashed avo, or will it be much more monumental?

Whilst most of their counterparts were enjoying the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea, 80 eager University of Technology, Sydney students set off on The Big Lift (TBL); the road trip to rival all road trips.

10 regional towns. Nine service projects. 160 rolled-up sleeves. Challenge accepted.

The first stop was Wyangala, a 40-person town where their pride and joy is the Wyangala Dam, and every working day is finished off with a cold glass of plonk. With fresh faces and more layers than we have fingers, the Lifters did not hesitate getting their hands dirty. Laying concrete beds, shovelling mulch, and painting fences at the local primary school and golf course were just some of the ways that Lifters chose to pay it forward, a term coined by the philosophy of performing one good deed and expecting nothing in return, ultimately setting the wheels of generosity and altruism in motion.

This became an enduring theme throughout the course of the nine days; making a difference, making a change.

Less than 24 hours into the trip, and the Lifters were lending more than just a helping hand. Pushing wheel barrows with flat tyres, digging holes with calloused hands, and dragging 100s of kilos worth of tree branches is how Lifters chose to flip the bird to anyone that says Millennials are not hard workers.

Uncle Wayne reiterated the selflessness of Lifters in his comment, “You lot are the future. Australia needs more people like you running the country.” This became an enduring theme throughout the course of the nine days; making a difference, making a change.

Over the week, TBL saw a reciprocal cycle of Lifters appreciating the hospitality and generosity of townspeople, and townspeople appreciating the hard work and commitment of Lifters. Travelling through towns that you could not track on most maps gave Lifters the opportunity to see the real Australia, where the climate is unforgiving, (Harcourt) apples come from trees and not the supermarket, and the town swears by Uncle Wayne’s Green Tomato Relish to cure all illnesses, from the common cold to any funny-looking warts. Everyone knows everyone and almost overnight, everyone suddenly knows you. Ganmain, Finley and Skipton are less than half of the memorable towns that Lifters set out to make a difference in, and inadvertently have a sudden deep affection for.

Change-makers are hard to come by. They are a rare and dying breed. The need for more change-makers in our world is ever-present. Ray of the Finley Lions Club put it best, “People often kick young kids down. Young kids are the future. We need more kids like you coming through, for the sake of our country.”

TBL promotes and attracts change-makers. Leaders are – by definition – change-makers. When you are called to lead, you are called to advance, move forward, and improve the situation. TBL does just that. There is no time for hesitation, only perspiration. Hard working individuals, helping out and making a difference for the benefit of a stranger. That is the essence of paying it forward. The idea that through one act of pure unvetted kindness, you set in motion a cycle of generous, thoughtful acts that will ultimately make the world a better place.

We are the future. We are the movers and shakers. We are the change-makers.

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