Born and raised in Mexico, Mayela came to Australia as a student to pursue a Master’s degree. She went on to work in student mobility at her university.
Mayela’s experience has afforded her personal insight into the challenges faced by international students and newly arrived migrants.
“I’ve seen international students struggle to navigate the system. It can be very complicated, daunting and bureaucratic,” she says.
Volunteering helped her overcome the initial hurdles and make new friends.
“I like to work with people, not with a computer,” she says about what drew her to giving up her time for free.
Mayela is passionate about volunteering with organisations she admires and wants to, “share the migrant experience. When I arrived, I did not know anyone. There’s barely a Mexican community here. It was very hard to meet people,” she says.
“Mentoring was an attractive volunteering opportunity for me as I have a background in working with students.”
“I wanted to help students and young people to learn from my mistakes.”
As well as volunteering as a mentor with CMY’s Pathways to Opportunity program, Mayela also volunteers with the Melbourne Period Project and the Peace Mission.
“I think it is important for people to volunteer. Sometimes, people look down on it because they think it is not worth working for free,” she says.
“Volunteering is an extremely rewarding thing to do.”
Her advice to those looking to share their experience and expertise with others is:
“Find an organisation that you’re interested in and get volunteering! It is a good way to develop skills, especially if you are from a migrant background,” she says.
“It is a good learning experience to pick up on the ‘Aussie’ way of doing things.”
“You will meet new people, learn how things are done and really find out if the organisation is making a difference,” says Mayela.
For more information or to volunteer with one of CMY's programs, visit our Volunteer page.