Matthew Shepherd’s Story
Head, Hands & Heart
Head - Understanding
As a young boy I grew up with a passion for the outdoors and the environment around me. Within me, a desire to understand how the world around us, was and still is rapidly changing due to the effects of vast shifts in our climate. My drive to learn more and see the world from a different perspective led me to choosing, New Zealand, my home for my Undergraduate degree.
After three stimulating years I started to develop a more comprehensive scientific understanding of the world we live in and challenges both we, the human race and the flora and fauna that surround us, face if we don’t rapidly change the way we act. Working with the Untouched World Foundation (UWF) challenged me to improve my thinking of wider systems as well as considering the deep dive questions in order to figure out the core issues of some of the most complex issues. But more importantly, an introduction to ‘behavioral change’, changed the way I look and apply my knowledge of local issues to global problems. As my knowledge has grown, I have begun to critically analyze issues with questions such as: What is the deep dive issue we are trying to solve? How can we engage others in your projects that DON’T want to be engaged with? How can we change the behavior of people from all backgrounds and of all ages?
Hands - Acting
My initial interactions with UWF whanau began in 2017, when I was invited to participate in the Otago Waterwise programme.
My experience is one that I look back on as a moment in time that profoundly shaped my future aims and actions.
During that week I gave a talk on climate change, offered logistical assistance and worked on developing the younger leader’s ability to ask deeper and more meaningful questions so that they could critically assess challenging local issues. A couple of months later, I was fortunate to have been nominated by UWF to represent the foundation at a Global Education for Sustainable Development Youth Conference called ‘Youth Saves the Planet’ in Paris. Rather than just sitting back and watching, I decided to take full advantage of the opportunity I had staring me in the face and not let my fear of public speaking stop me. The conference gave me both a platform to challenge myself, but also a platform to challenge other youth on their ideas and ventures. I shared my views and knowledge of local issues in the hope they would have global applications.
Talking in front of such a prestigious audience was undoubtedly challenging but even more rewarding. The icing on the cake was being nominated as one of three Asia-Pacific ESD Ambassadors. As soon as I arrived home I started sharing what I had learnt with both the people around me and, with my newfound confidence of speaking in front of audiences, the wider community so my message could reach a wider audience. In taking up the position of the Tertiary Lead for the 2018 Otago Waterwise program I had to enhance my mentoring skills. Passing on my knowledge from previous camps, while extracting and enhancing the unique skills of all members of the new tertiary team. Upholding the meaning of Kaitiakitanga was and still is an important part of my role at the foundation. Having been lucky to enough to have been mentored through my time with the foundation my ‘+1’ Act of Kindness is passing on this mentorship to other participants in the program. I currently mentor a range of Secondary and Tertiary students through personal goal setting as well as implementation techniques they can use to get their ideas adopted in their individual institutions. In January 2019 I was able to take part in an Advanced Leadership program which offered a platform for us to look at our own personal challenges as well as sharing ideas for how we can better work together to further the work of the Foundation across the country as well as improve the world we live in.
Heart - Connecting
Arguably the most important part of my journey revolves around developing and sharing the deep emotive connection I have with my work. While important to share the knowledge stored in my head and actions I make with my hands, without creating a strong emotional connection to the heart, the audience is unlikely to be influenced in a way that will change their actions for the better. Many of the issues I am passionate about, such as climate change, are not immediately staring at us in the face which make the concept of connecting with them even more challenging. My ‘+many’ Act of Kindness involves pushing myself into a broader realm of arenas to discuss my passion and connect people to REAL issues so they can make REAL changes.
Head, HandS & Heart
In a world of diversity and disparity, the unity of people to become one whānau to protect our only earth is paramount. It is up to those of us, spread across the world, with an enriched education to take the lead on sharing our knowledge and finding solutions to the world’s most complex problems.