Home Country: Canada
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
I believe it’s one thing to volunteer and quite another to volunteer with heart. It’s not about completing hours but rather listening and actively working with the community you aim to serve. It’s about constantly seeking opportunities to spark change and finding new ways to contribute. Not only do I completely immerse myself into the service projects I participate in, which ranges from mentoring kids from underprivileged neighbourhoods to organizing and assisting in recreational activities for the elderly, but I also designed a garden project that garnered a spot as a finalist for the 2015 Dalai Lama Fellowship and realized it with the help of The Yellow Door, an organization that empowers young people to initiate and engage in community and creative projects that promote social inclusion, combat urban isolation across all generations, and spark positive societal change.
What motivated you to get involved with volunteering?
It’s hard to pinpoint something that motivated me to get involved. Finding ways to serve the community and giving back has always been very important in my upbringing and was further cultivated throughout my schooling at Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School. A school whose motto “Non Nobis Sed Urbi et Orbi” translates as “not for ourselves but for the city and the world.”
How much time do you dedicate to volunteering?
Again, to me, it’s not so much about how much time I am putting in but how much I am actually doing… and I try to do as much as I can. I serve now as VP Community Service for the McGill Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society and coordinate events for our members and for our partner organizations: The Yellow Door, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital and Better World Books. I volunteer regularly at The Yellow Door, I sit on the Board of Directors and oversee the garden project.
What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer work?
The most rewarding part of my volunteer work is working alongside people who all care deeply about a cause that’s beyond themselves, no matter what that is. It is empowering to know that so many young people are trying to be the change they want to see. I have learned so much from these people from such diverse backgrounds. Volunteering has allowed me to see my strengths and weaknesses and gain a family beyond my own.
What is the greatest challenge of your volunteer work?
When it comes to organizing events, ensuring volunteer participation is always a challenge. You cannot get mad at people for not being able to show up if something comes up because they are essentially not required to be there and are doing it out of the goodness of the heart. Instead, you have to be ready to pick up the slack, stay positive and be doubly motivated so that those that are they are motivated as well. Ensuring everyone has fun while giving their time is what gets people back.
Why do you believe you will be effective volunteering within a community abroad?
I believe I will be effective volunteering with a community abroad because I have done so in the past with IVHQ. I participated in the teaching program in Madagascar summer 2014. I have teaching experience with my own education background and have knowledge working various volunteer positions that I can extend to a situation abroad. I have also traveled a great deal, which translates into a greater acceptance of new things, cultures and beliefs.
What are you hoping to gain from an international volunteer experience?
I hope to meet new people from an international volunteer experience because that would mean new ideas, new interactions and perhaps new ways of effecting change. I know I will also gain precious memories and perhaps a new service project for fully engage myself in.