Student in competition to win Australian adventure
by Catherine Szabo
When Mount Royal University student Mike Wenzlawe first heard about a contest offering an all- expense-paid trip to Australia, he thought a one-minute video would do the trick; people just had to vote for his video. Now, just over a month into the contest, Wenzlawe – as well as any and all of his friends and acquaintances – are finding out it’s a lot more than that. To remind people to vote for his video (available at http:// australia.campusperks.ca/ entries/371), Wenzlawe, a third-year eco-tourism student, admitted that he’s been “spamming” people so much through Twitter and Facebook, Facebook threatened to shut down his account, based on his activity.
“People just avoid me in the halls now,” Wenzlawe said, adding he also sends out mass text reminders. “My friends are like, ‘Hey, stop talking. Yeah, I’ll vote for you.’ ” Another Mount Royal marketing student, Erik Paul, landed a part-time job as a brand strategist with Redwood Strategic, the company that runs the Campus Perks website, and is now working with Wenzlawe in his quest to get Down Under. “We’re competing against people from every other university in Canada, and this is the first time they’ve put a strategist on our campus,” Paul said. “Usually we’ve been too small or they don’t care. So this is a really good chance for Mount Royal to show that we belong with the top schools in the country, and to show that we have passionate students and that we have people who are going to be good for stuff like this.”
Tourism Australia is hoping to promote their working holiday visa, which allows people to enter the country on holiday, but stay and work in the country for up to 24 months. Three trips – an adventure- based trip, wildlife-based, or social-based – are options for the first-place winner. The second- and third-place winners will choose from the remaining two options. “Australia is just a huge playground,” Wenzlawe said. “Especially for someone who’s in the (eco-tourism) field – white water rafting and mountain biking, I believe, is facilitated perfectly by Australia, and that has me more excited than anything.”
During the three-week trip, the winner is expected to “share their story with Canada through blogs, Facebook and the news,” according to the Campus Perks website. “Consider yourself the spokesperson for Canadian students Down Under.” “I assume they (want) someone who people would tune into day after day, to hear how the trip is going,” Wenzlawe said. “I’m a big storyteller, I like to share experiences with people, especially experiences that I learn something from.” At publication time, Wenzlawe was in seventh spot, with 862 votes. A student from Laurentian University, in Sudbury, Ont., was in first place with 1,723 votes. The top 20 are scheduled for a phone interview with the judges, at which point finalists will be chosen. Those finalists are to host an “Aussie Social,” where participants are judged, among other things, on how well they promote Australia. Voting will open again at that point, ending on Dec. 15.
“I wanted to showcase (in the video) my sense of humour, my zest for travel, and if some random person were to watch the video, they would be excited and want to see what I could do if I were given the opportunity,” Wenzlawe said, noting that in addition to the Australian outback costume he was sporting during the interview, he has a full gorilla suit in his closet he’s considering to attract more attention.