GAF and RMIT alumna Paz Pizarski has been busy since graduating, working as a community coordinator at RMIT and following her passion, Classical Guitar. Paz shares with us how her role has transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic, tips for studying and working remotely and the power of relaxation music and the purpose she finds in composing it.
During your time at university, what did a George Alexander Foundation scholarship make possible?
My GAF scholarship gave me the freedom and confidence to undertake activities during my studies that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. As a result of the generous financial support during my degree at RMIT, I had more time to focus on my studies as well as engage in activities such as playing netball, and volunteering at the Sacred Heart. A real highlight was also being able to live and study in Spain for an entire year on exchange. This was where I pursued my passion for languages and composing music.
What motivated you to study a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies)?
I was inspired to study this degree because of three key factors: languages, experience and culture. I chose the BAIS degree because I was able to study Spanish and undertake internships to gain real-life experiences for credit. I undertook a wonderful internship at SisterWorks, a not-for-profit organisation supporting migrant women to become financially independent and happily settle in Australia. I would recommend looking at the work they do as it’s very inspiring.
Lastly, the BAIS degree has a student culture like nothing else. At the time our Program Coordinator, Julian Lee, went above and beyond to bring us together and I made genuine friends during my time there.
How has adjusting to life after university been? Any advice for other GAF scholars who are graduating soon?
University feels like a lifetime ago. However, life after university was an equally liberating and daunting adjustment. I’d recommend celebrating your hard work and also taking time to reflect on what you hope to achieve next.
If you’re still not sure about which direction to take, apply for roles in organisations that align with your personal values. Don’t stress too much about the role itself, get your foot in the door and take the opportunity to show them how amazing you are. You’ll eventually work your way into a role more suited to your talents and interests.
You work at RMIT Activator as Community Coordinator, what does this role entail?
RMIT Activator is the university’s heart of entrepreneurship. We support venture creation and growth, as well as equip our community with the necessary enterprise skills for the modern workforce. My role within Activator is to ensure that we are building a strong and supportive community that is centred around our core values of open-mindedness, mutual support and giving back.
On a daily basis, my role involves welcoming new members, organising social activities, responding to community feedback, managing our Community Ambassador program and more.
Recently, my role at Activator has shifted as the COVID-19 pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities within RMIT. Never has there been a more important time to build community support and maintain relationships with one another. We’ve been working tirelessly to deliver all our offerings online and virtually support our extensive community of start-up founders. Additionally, we’ve been running lunchtime catch-ups via Zoom and providing a fitness leaderboard online to stay active. Of course, this has come with its own sets of challenges, such as technological difficulties, not being able to have face-to-face interactions, and feelings of isolation and helplessness. Regardless, we are committed to supporting our RMIT community in any way that we can – in whatever form that may take.
Do you have any advice for taking care of yourself while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Stay active. We all know how good exercise is for our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s even more important when we are experiencing significant shifts and changes in our lives. I like to do yoga or use a skipping rope to stay active.
Any tips for scholars who are now studying or working remotely?
I enjoy listening to relaxing music while working from home as it keeps my mind calm and focused. A personal favourite of mine is Nils Frahm’s, a German pianist, new album Empty, which showcases beautiful piano pieces. I also keep my mind positive by taking regular stretch breaks and drinking herbal tea.
For those who may be without work or study at this time, I recommend taking a piece of paper each morning and writing three things that you’d like to achieve that day. It can be as small as calling a friend or reading a book. The idea is to create a sense of purpose and direction in your day when structural routines are lacking.
Tell us about your love for composing music.
I’ve played the guitar nearly all my life and have learnt through the Suzuki guitar method from my lovely teacher, Zeah Riordan. Recently, I’ve become fascinated by the power of sound and I am deeply passionate about composing relaxation music on guitar and piano. This week I have been recording music for the Music Therapy Department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for patients and staff to enjoy. Usually, I would be playing in the foyers as a volunteer, however, that’s sadly not the case right now. Regardless, I’m still working hard to share my music online with people.
What sparked your interest to create relaxation music?
This is a great question and one that I had to think deeply about. I realised what sparked my interest was a valuable conversation I had with someone who is now a close friend of mine. Her name is Rosie Jean. When we met, she mentioned that she collaborated with musicians to create ambient music for her yin yoga classes. I was instantly interested in being involved.
Since then, we’ve collaborated to deliver many relaxation experiences that harness the power of calming music. Now I tend to create music under my artist name, Paz Sounds, that’s inspired by the Australian landscape with sounds of nature that I’ve recorded, as well as ambient music and live classical guitar improvisation. You can listen to some of my music here.
What are your goals for the future?
At the moment my future goals seem fairly distant and blurry. I had many plans for 2020, however, I feel as if it’s all been uprooted now. But I’m okay with that.
I definitely plan to focus on strengthening my community-building skills and finding new ways to share my relaxation music with the world. My focus is also centred around what opportunities exist amongst all of the change, chaos and isolation. I’m definitely doing some much-needed reflection and planning for the vibrant road ahead and I’m hopeful for the future nonetheless.
Interviewed in 2020.