Serving the Community
St Mary’s College Vice-Captain for 2020, Kate Sotiriadis offers this reflection on her year as a Student Leader:
Supporting the poor and disadvantaged in our society has been instilled in me my whole life. Visiting my Great-Grandparents in nursing homes, helping my Grandparents deliver meals-on-wheels to the elderly, and providing entertainment and sport to the disabled of our community, have taught me the importance of serving those less fortunate than myself. Encouraged by my parents and school community, these acts of service have contributed towards the person I am today.
Giving money to those in need is, in a lot of circumstances, the only way to provide support, but the impact of showing physical acts of compassion to those struggling is far greater. During the Christmas holidays of 2019, I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia with a small group of students and teachers, and it was here that I learnt how solidarity empowers the poor and disadvantaged. A country still recovering their livelihood, and rebuilding their economy following the genocide of all the educated people during the 1970s, Cambodia is currently one of the poorest places in the world.
If we walk with the poor, then we are offering to travel the same journey with them. By understanding the cultural, economic, social and religious factors that affect their lives, we can then strive in an informed way to raise them out of their poverty. Walking in solidarity with the poor can be a life changing experience. By exposing ourselves to the plight affecting the poor and the desperation felt by so many, we can come to appreciate how fortunate we are to live lives that are comfortable and easy.
What I gained from this life-changing opportunity was the courage to stand up for the rights of people; to be a woman of integrity and mercy, showing compassion and servant leadership. While in Cambodia, teaching English to children aged six to eighteen was challenging, but taught me perseverance, and teamwork when having to create teaching plans for lessons with my peers. Teaching the children gave me great joy, and the energy in the classroom at that instant was unmeasurable.
While the current pandemic of 2020 has not allowed for many activities to be carried out during this school year, I have been challenged to pursue other avenues to demonstrate servant leadership. As part of my portfolio, I was delegated the task of chairing the Student Representative Council (SRC); a group of students from Years 7 to 12 who meet fortnightly to raise and discuss relevant issues. Like in Cambodia, this committee has allowed me to demonstrate the importance of what it means to be a woman of Mercy. It has enabled the SRC members to be open to other’s views and opinions, and has allowed me to distribute tasks to ensure all members on the SRC feel valued. This year has seen great success with the SRC; from welcoming students back to school after online learning, to environment week, to providing constructive feedback to the College Leadership Team (CLT). These experiences have enabled the SRC members to have a voice. With support from Mrs Lemon and Mrs Franz, as well as the CLT, the SRC has been able to make a positive impact for the lives of students at the College.