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Arts + Social Sciences › Psychology, Arts + Social Sciences › Criminology
Position Title
Program:
Experience Faculty
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"The most fulfilling part out of everything is seeing those participants’ growth each week... hearing those confident voices make it feel so amazing knowing that you were a part of that change."
During my Experience
Accomplishments and Challenges

I think the biggest challenge I have faced as a lead volunteer was deciding the topics for each week. How I overcame that obstacle was by collecting surveys with what the participants wanted to learn each week and then filtering through them afterwards. It was difficult because there were just so much the students want to discuss about!

Reflection & Tips
Reflection

Tell us a bit about yourself! What are you studying here at SFU, which program you’re in and the volunteer program role you’ve taken on?

I am studying psychology and criminology. I will be completing my major in psychology as well as doing a concentration in applied behaviour analysis and a minor in criminology as well as a certificate in forensic sciences. I have been volunteering for the SFU Surrey-TD CEC for just over a year now, and I have volunteered with English Conversation Group (ECG), Racing Readers, and CommuniCreate. I was a facilitator with ECG for two iterations before becoming their lead volunteer. I am interested in psychology, criminology, education and law, and am hoping to work in a field where these all overlap. I will be applying to the PDP program for elementary education after I complete my bachelor's degree and hope to pursue a master's degree after that. Overall I just want to be able to help people especially the youth in my community.

What sparked your interest in becoming a Lead Volunteer for the ECG (English Conversation Group)?

When I first found out about this opportunity, I immediately connected it my family. My father immigrated to Canada at a very young age, and my mother's parents immigrated here before she was born. My dad's family all learned English after they immigrated here, and I thought about how grateful they would have been, if they had to opportunity to take part in a program like this. That's when I knew I had to apply to be a facilitator. After two iterations, I applied to be the Lead Volunteer because I wanted to use my leadership skills and knowledge of this program to lead it.

Can you share how being a mentor to others has impacted you? 

Being a mentor for others has impacted me because I feel more confident being that person for others now. During this program, my goal was to make sure all my volunteers felt supported every step of the way in every aspect I could provide to them. In doing so, I realized that as a mentor you don’t have to be so particular about everything. Being a leader doesn’t only mean to lead others, but to make sure they are supported by you as someone in the leadership role. Actively being the one to check-in with them is a huge benefit.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

There are so many fulfilling aspects about this program. One of them is getting to know my volunteers better over the course of the program and seeing them step out of their comfort shells during meetings and program planning. Another is seeing the same participants coming back each week because they’re eager to continue their practice and spend time with their groups. These are the people we get to develop a deeper level of connections with and create a deeper bond with overtime in the program. It’s true that we develop soft spots for them and being able to volunteer iteration after iteration and having almost the same people join in from the previous ones, that’s a really rewarding feeling! Most of the time we catch up with them and talk about what’s been going on with their lives. The most fulfilling part out of everything is seeing those participants’ growth each week. You see the confidence build up as they share and peak more – all more excitedly and loudly. Hearing those confident voices make it feel so amazing knowing that you were a part of that change.

Connection to Academic Studies or Career Goals

ECG and SUCCESS have supported my professional development as I was given the opportunity to lead a group and do so virtually. This aligns with my goals and interests because to me, it is important to be able to be a leader and with the two groups of volunteers I worked with, and I got to practice exactly that. This program also aligns with my interests as I was able to create the program alongside my volunteers and decide collectively the activities, they would create each week. Another thing I realized during my time as a lead volunteer, is the sense of pride I feel each week from every single volunteer. Every single one of them has always come in with a smile and ready to enrich the students. When it comes to leadership roles, it is very important to not only support those you work with but be proud of their accomplishments and their services. SUCCESS has really influenced me to start looking further into working with newcomer youth and understanding the challenges that come with that - which I know will not only benefit my own development but the community as well.
 

Advice for Future Students

Working with the SFU Surrey - TD CEC is something I am incredibly grateful for, finding out about the CEC after my first semester at SFU while we were in virtual format, made me feel a part of a community, even though we couldn't physically be together. There are so many opportunities and different programs that I have been able to be a part of, each one giving me the different experiences, friends and participants. Another great thing about being a part of the SFU Surrey – TD CEC is getting to know the leaders in the programs and your fellow volunteers, you get to build so many relationships and connections.


This blog was originally posted on the SFU Surrey-TD Community Engagement Centre website on December 2, 2021.

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