On Wednesday 21st June, Teach First NZ hosted our first ‘Social Citizens - Meet the Changemakers’ event at Studio One, Ponsonby. This was a night for people to come to connect and be inspired by four passionate changemakers who were to share their stories with us.
There was a real buzz about the night with an art exhibition in the rooms below and waiata from Charles Looker (Cohort 2016 participant teaching Te Reo Māori at Onehunga High School) filling the room to begin. As people began to arrive, you could sense that everyone was here to engage and to take in the stories which were about to be shared.
Our first speaker was Joshua Iosefo, a 22 year old legend. The well-known Kiwi documentary filmmaker and speaker has a passion for identity and uses storytelling to unlock mindsets. Joshua is also an incredible film-maker and throughout his talk, he shared film pieces from his journey behind the lens. Iosefa grew up in South Auckland and made the move to Mt Roskill Grammar, where he was able to nurture his passion for filmmaking and he gave special mention to one of his mentors, alumni of the Teach First NZ Programme, Nadeen Papali’i. Hearing Joshua’s story was an awesome reflection of the impact that one person can make, just by helping another to soar in the thing they are passionate about. Joshua is using his passion to now inspire the next generation, to help them realise their potential too, enabling more changemakers to rise up in Aotearoa!
Our second speaker was the delightful Alice Marsh, who works with Kiwi Net and is Co-Founder of ‘The Good Portal’, a platform where people can find social enterprises, charities and not-for-profits they might want to be involved in. Alice shared a little of her transformational story: from the slumped state of overwhelm at the state of global affairs through to the wakeup call that she had to step into the thing that was in her heart, social innovation. She spoke about the importance of these three things, 1- empower yourself, 2 - collaborate with the people around you, 3 - take action! Be brave, have courage and own it.
Danu Abeysuriya is the co-founder of the P3 Foundation, a not-for-profit that mobilizes youth to eradicate extreme poverty. Danu is also currently the CTO and founder of Rush Digital - a ‘tech-creative’ firm based in Auckland which has grown to 50 employees and is working with the likes of Google. Danu deeply believes in a better world and his passion for technology continues to fuel his entrepreneurial drive. Danu pulled us in with a fun dash of humour in his storytelling. A quote which is a mighty fine one to live by was spoken, ”if anything is attempted with true gusto then failing is never as bad as you think it is, the fear of failing is often misconstrued as fear of losing the confident routine you currently have”. Danu encouraged us to take an idea and refocus it to be socially oriented and push it to benefit society, stepping into a life as a changemaker!
Last we had one of our very own Teach First NZ participants, Denyce Su’a (Cohort 2017). Denyce is a natural and amazing storyteller, and to begin her talk she shared a beautiful spoken word piece which illuminated her passion for her culture, for her family, for their stories and for her own story, her inheritance. “This is a passing down, this is an inheritance, and in this we are called to serve, we are called to lead, we are called to rise”. It was beautiful to capture the spirit and love she has for her family and to be so immersed in her Samoan culture, it’s no wonder she has such a gift of connecting with people; her students, her fellow participants, and really anyone that crosses her path. “My job is to enable them, to give them a menu of different tools they can use not only in the classroom but out of the classroom also.” As well as teaching English at Southern Cross Campus, Denyce is an actress, and has been part of the Black Friars, most recently with her co-directing role in Southside Rise. Through her story, Denyce shared how she’s meshed and woven her two loves together in her life: performance, and teaching, as well as constantly being taught herself. A bit of advice to sum it up was to “Involve yourself in whatever your passion might be...be brave and empower yourself.”
The first Teach First NZ Meet the Changemakers event was attended by a range of incredible change makers looking to make the world a better place. We are pleased to say it will not be our last. Keep an eye out for our future events and come join our community of incredible people making a difference in their community, New Zealand and all over the world.