Evita Farrell could have been on a ski trip with her family this week.
Instead, she and fellow John Paul College student Nishali Patel spent the first week of their winter break running a Disney-themed holiday programme for children from refugee backgrounds.
Evita, 16, said the experience was worth skipping the slopes.
"Yeah, my family changed their plans for me," Evita said.
"There's nowhere I'd rather be right now. It's lots of fun and you learn heaps from it."
Refugee Orientation Centre Trust and Rimbrook Study Centre's SHE Leads programme have partnered to organise holiday activities for young refugees in Hamilton for more than 10 years. Both organisations rely almost entirely on volunteers like Farrell and Patel to make their projects happen.
"I first heard about the opportunity from my friends," Evita said.
"I liked the idea of meeting people from different cultures. I've been able to understand differences in religion, hear about different parts of the world and the refugee crisis."
This was Evita's third time as a volunteer on the programme and she was enthusiastic about being given more responsibility.
She has helped plan workshops about friendship, teamwork and generosity for the children. She has also been put in charge of organising games and dance activities.
The tasks weren't always easy. There were 43 children attending the programme, from Afghanistan, Syria, Congo and Colombia. Between them, there were almost 10 languages being spoken.
"You get really tired at the end of the day and sometimes it's hard when they're not listening or they just run off to do their own thing."
Still, Evita said the benefits outweigh any difficulties.
"I like getting to know all the kids and hanging out with my friends. It's been really, really, cool."
Nishali, also in Year 11 at the college, heard about the programme from Evita.
"Evita told me how much she had enjoyed the last holiday programme, how much fun it was. It just seemed like a great experience."
The 15-year-old said a highlight was making new friends in the volunteer team.
"I would definitely recommend [the programme]. It's a way to meet new people, try new things and be in a different environment.
"I think most people would get a lot out of it."
She wants to work in healthcare after finishing high school.
"I think in the health field all the jobs are about helping people and that's what I want to do," Nishali said.
The other 14 volunteers who ran this winter's programme were students from Masterton, Palmerston North, Paraparaumu, Hamilton and Auckland.
Rimbrook Study Centre manager Vivian Keane said the teenage leaders brought energy and creativity to the programme.
"The children really connect with them. For these children who come from different nations, it's like having a big sister and it helps them to settle in New Zealand," Keane said.
"For the volunteers, it's an opportunity to practice the leadership skills and values they learn in our SHE Leads programme and elsewhere."
The holiday programme also included a visit to Waikato Museum and a day spent rollerblading at the Hamilton Inline Hockey Club.
New Zealand's annual refugee quota is 1,500. However, due to Covid-19 only between 750 and 1000 refugees will be resettled in New Zealand this year.