SWY1 – Sue Claridge

Sue Claridge (Warren) from Auckland, is a Writer & Publisher and holds an MSc

The experience

I participated in the first Ship for World Youth in 1989. I cannot overstate the impact that this programme has had my life. It ignited my love of travel, and enhanced my desire to learn about how other people and cultures live, and thus to understand how we can work together to achieve a better world for all of us. On a personal level, participation in the programme, gave me skills, experiences and opportunities that impact on my life and those around me to this day. It has given me a confidence that I had not obtained through other activities, and enhanced my desire to make a difference in other people’s lives through my work and voluntary activities. Even as a professional communicator I find it hard to articulate just how important this programme has continued to be in my life and the benefits that participation brings to me personally and in my work and understanding of the lives of others.

  “The SWY programme is an amazing, life changing opportunity and young New Zealanders should take up such opportunities”

Memorable moment

The opportunity to meet young people from a range of cultures and to share experiences with them discovering ourselves and other countries, how other people live and the things that are important in the lives of other people from around the globe. Specifically I guess the most memorable thing was visiting Ecuador and travelling in that country, seeing how people live here, in particular the poverty and conditions in which some of its citizens lived, and the realisation that, fortunately, few New Zealanders, if any, are forced to live in such conditions.

Affects of the SWY Programme

My experience on the Ship had a very personal impact, and in addition to the impact described in the first question above, my experience and the friendships I made on the ship, my new knowledge about other people and cultures, gave me the courage and commitment to leave a very damaging personal relationship and seek a better life, which I did soon after returning home. It helped me gain a sense of my place in the world, determine what is and is not important, and how I could live my life in the future.

The SWY programme probably did not have a great impact on my career and education as I had almost completed my B.Sc. and had already planned to do an M.Sc., which I went on to do. However, my experience changed how I view the world and in particular enhanced or strengthened my desire to continue voluntary work, and for my work to ultimately make a difference in other people’s lives, to make other people’s lives better even if only in some small way. The experience broadened my understanding of other people and their lives and gave me a greater appreciation of how fortunate my life has been; gave me a much greater appreciation of international relations, politics, and the lives of people around the world.

I was already heavily involved in voluntary work, particularly in the Girl-guiding movement, and I have continued that involvement to this day. It was only through my voluntary work that I had the opportunity to participate in the SWY programme, and if anything the experience strengthened my commitment to voluntary work and the necessity of such work in improving the lives of others.

In addition to the impacts mentioned above, my experience has given me a strong belief that such experiences are vital to improving international relations and the lives of others around the world. Although it is some time since I have had similar opportunities, my experience has led me to strongly support others seeking to take up similar opportunities, including my own children and the young people and adults that I continue to work with, particularly in a voluntary capacity. Without such programmes, young people around the world have fewer opportunities to learn about and understand other cultures and countries, and without them the world will be a poorer place.

“Grasp these opportunities with both hands, make the most of every experience that is offered and use those experiences to be better people, gain greater understanding of how the world is and to help make it a better place for all its citizens, including themselves and their own families”