ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK'S UNTOLD VOLUNTEER STORYMonday 30th May 2011
SWAT SUCCESS: ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK’S UNTOLD STORY
Getting some people to volunteer is like pulling teeth. Not these guys. The Sailing Week Antigua Team (SWAT), a group of about 100 volunteers – whose duties ranged from meet and greets to working the media centre to collecting feedback from participants – are still singing the praises of the programme to which they donated their time, all in the interest of keeping Antigua’s premier regatta among the best in the world.
“It was exciting; I got to meet a lot of new people, have interesting conversations with people from all over the world…it’s something that I would do again,” said Suzette Sansculotte, for whom volunteering was a family affair with her two teen daughters – Viana and Stannette – and niece, Stephanie.
“It was lovely, I enjoyed it,” said Caren Tonge, who said the benefits include the expansion of her network of contacts. She said, “to me you reap more benefits; the experience you get, the networking – meeting people, people you can call at a later time…who will help you because they know you’ve been helpful.”
One person who knows the truth of this, first hand, is Joyette Pigott, a finalizing student at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute and SWAT member who landed a job at a local hotel after attracting the interest one of the owners while performing her volunteer duties. “He said I was very mature and good with interacting with persons,” Pigott said. She was one of only two volunteers from her reception and sales programme and because she stepped up, she’s even further ahead of the pack. Of volunteering, she said, “you should not think about the fact that you’re not getting paid, but think about how it can help you.” All three agree that volunteering can be educational and fun.
Sanscoulotte, herself a volunteer regular with the Red Cross, enjoyed the exposure being on SWAT gave her to other cultures as well as the opportunity to share some of her own culture. “You don’t want them to go back and say we went to Antigua and it was a bad experience,” she said.
Not surprisingly, all see potential benefits in developing a national volunteer network not just for Sailing Week but year round. Alison Adams, ASW committee member, said of SWAT – whose main role she said was “being open, being available, giving (people) the assurance there were people around” – that it’s definitely a concept that could be applied to other national events, though, like everything else, it’ll need proper scheduling and management.
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