5 Minutes with World Vision Youth Ambassador Jess

Ahead of this month’s 40 Hour Famine (it’s on next week!), we caught up with World Vision Youth Ambassador Jess McLennan to chat about where this year’s funds will be going, her role within the organisation and her favourite quote which gets her through self-doubt when speaking to thousands of people. 

Tell us about this year’s upcoming World Vision 40 Hour Famine? 

Jess: This year’s World Vision 40 Hour Famine will support children in sub-Saharan Africa who are facing what could be the biggest hunger pandemic of our lifetime. Money raised will put food on the table for children who go entire days without eating, plant seeds that grow into vegetables to feed whole families for months and years to come as well as provide families with chickens to provide daily eggs and organic fertiliser for fast growing crops. 

How did you get involved with World Vision and the 40 Hour Famine? 
Jess: World Vision has been big in my whānau since before I was even born, I grew up writing to our family’s sponsor kids and learning about World Vision and justice in church. I first started doing the World Vision 40 Hour Famine when I was 7, and continued to get more involved and more passionate each year. I am now in my second year of being a World Vision Youth Ambassador – a role I love!

What type of duties/activities do you do as a World Vision Youth Ambassador?
Jess: I spend a lot of my time visiting different schools and youth groups around the South Island, helping to support students plan their World Vision 40 Hour Famine activities. From running workshops to speaking at school assemblies and just generally spinning yarns, it’s a lot of fun and so fantastic to get to meet so many young Kiwis around the country committed to making change for those who need it most, year in and year out. 

What do you hope people will take out of this year’s World Vision 40 Hour Famine? 
Jess: I hope this year’s World Vision 40 Hour Famine inspires all of us to look outside of our own bubbles and to broaden our perspectives, and not just now, but into the future too. I also hope that it inspires all of us to continue to grow and learn about what it looks like to live justly, for those in our communities here at home as well as globally. 

Where would we find you in your spare time? 
Jess: At the moment some of my favourite things to do are walking with friends, exploring my local hills on a run, reading a good book in a cafe with a matcha latte, picnics on the hills with friends (ideally at sunset, of course) and crocheting. I’m also quite involved in my church community and play hockey. 

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Jess: I once heard Lauren Daigle say on a podcast that ‘true freedom is giving others permission to misperceive you’ and that’s been huge for me! In this job I’m constantly putting myself out there, speaking in front of hundreds of students who are often also my peers and friends. I’m a huge perfectionist, and I find it so easy to walk away from a talk or a workshop and start overthinking myself into self-doubt. That’s when I remind myself of this wee quote, and I’m reminded that even if my talk wasn’t perfect, and people didn’t enjoy it, or they thought I was weird – so what? Will it matter in 5 years’ time? Can I change it now? And then I can learn from my mistakes and move on. 

You can join Jess and her fellow Youth Ambassadors, World Vision Ambassador Kim Crossman plus this year’s 40 Hour Famine Ambassadors local musician Paige, rugby player Caleb Clarke and advocate Jess Quinn next week for this year’s event. The World Vision 40 Hour Famine is on 25 – 27 June. You can sign up or find a fundraiser to support at 40hour.org.nz.