Students, young people, often come in for a lot of flak from the older generation, don't they. And then there is technology - it is a wonderful thing. I love it. I use it. I can communicate with the world.
But Christchurch has moved my appreciation of it, and the young people who have always had it in their lives, to a whole new level. Put the students and the technology together, and you have a powerful combination.
Did you know that there is an army of over 18,000 students out there in the city? Highly organised, and all through the Internet. Their appeal for volunteers went viral, and they have this amazing band of students on the streets, responding to the needs of people all over the city. They are digging gardens, cleaning streets, taking food and water to people who can't get to depots, dealing with liquefaction, which is something I had never heard of. Have you?
The Student Volunteer Army is highly organised and has the full support of the Civil Defence department and the powers that be in Christchurch, and if you are on Facebook, you can check out their page - AC Student Volunteer Army. People throughout the city can text them, using a code "help me" and list their needs, or do so on their Facebook page, and a team of students will be dispatched to help, armed with their spades.
I am totally blown away by their willingness to get in there, to do the dirty work, to help and to make a difference to so many people in their city.
And it doesn't stop there.
The students in Dunedin saw a need, and stepped into another gap. Communicating via the Internet, they volunteered to provide lunches for the Student Army. They wanted to help. So today, they are organising over 10,000 lunches. Their website Keep them going is up and they are asking for people to provide food for the volunteers. They have also got companies providing the transport of the lunches, farmers providing fresh fruit.....all through the Internet. Wonderful.
Christchurch is a devastated city. Over a third of the buildings in the city centre will have to be demolished. The city has a really difficult time ahead. More than 200 people are still missing, and 123 have been confirmed dead as I write. It is a sad sad time for the people trying to put their lives back together. Imagine a city centre being off limits for several months. TVNZ has excellent live update coverage. The only way it can be rebuilt is with the entire community working together, and these young people are a credit to their university, country, city, their parents and themselves. I am SO proud of them all, so impressed and so encouraged by them. Every one of them.
With their use of Twitter and Facebook, and with their huge knowledge of the Social Media phenomenon, they are in a position to spread the word at incredible speed and meet a need. This is a shining example of the Computer Generation in the best of ways. Armed with their smart phone, laptops, energy, and spades, they are making a huge difference. We can all learn from them.
In recent weeks, this new method of communication creating change has been transforming the world, you know - the use of Social Media in the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan revolutions is well documented. President Obama brought technology into the political world during his presidential campaign, but here - it is moving on to amazing levels.
There are of course, times when it is used for diabolical means too, but I don't want to talk about that right now. I want to celebrate the good. The students in Christchurch deserve all the cheers today. Just wonderful.
(This is the second time I have written this - or a variation of it. Blogger decided to eat it, and then sign me out. I ws less than thrilled. But I really wanted to tell you about these amazing kids, so started from the beginning. Again. )