The very first chapter of Love Your Neighbour was established at SFU in 2008, and has since expanded to become an international student services organization with branches in South Africa, Hong Kong, and Australia; just to name a few. Each year, they work with different charity organizations and non-profits to assist people from all ages and backgrounds. As such, they are strongly dedicated to community involvement, and providing unique opportunities for members to volunteer locally or abroad. In the past, members have volunteered at senior homes, schools, fundraising events, as well as at overseas orphanages and small villages in developing countries. I had the chance to sit down with the President of Love Your Neighbour SFU, Rex Fong, to talk a little bit more about the club and how students at SFU could get involved.
1. To start off, could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Rex, President of Love Your Neighbor club at SFU and a fourth year Arts student, who also works for a grassroots non-profit called Light and Love Home.
2. Why and how did you decide to get involved with Love Your Neighbor?
I got involved with the club in my first year because I wanted to make new friends and continue volunteering, as I volunteered a lot in a summer day camp back in high school.
3. What is your favorite aspect of being part of Love Your Neighbor?
My favorite aspect would be connecting and working with volunteers from different faculties, sometimes even different cities and countries. 2 years ago, I went to Fiji Island to help out with a local school support program in an impoverished neighborhood. There, I was living and working with a group of volunteers from all corners of the world, such as Singapore, Seattle, Toronto, and Hong Kong. The same month, another team of ours went to Cape Town, South Africa, for a different program.
Living together overseas for six weeks was definitely an enriching experience! It was interesting seeing some of our members cook or perform basic house chores for the first time. Many of our volunteers became more aware of others’ needs and later established deep friendships. In general, it seemed that members changed their view of the world after these trips.
4. What are some ways that students can become involved with the club?
Members can volunteer at any of our various local and international opportunities, such as in community service to help children, seniors, and the homeless. In addition, members can take part in writing grant applications, running training workshops for various programs, seeking volunteer opportunities for our members, as well as organizing international volunteer conferences, meet-ups, and oversea trips.
5. Looking ahead, what are some events that the club has coming up this semester or in the Fall? Could you describe briefly what we can expect from these events?
Looking ahead this fall, we are planning to expand our services to provide more support to the Downtown Eastside neighborhood. Thus, we would like to recruit passionate individuals - especially freshmen - to help us out with this initiative. Also, we will be raising awareness about volunteerism by putting on a photo exhibition to showcase photos that our volunteers have taken from their volunteering trips at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library!