UNICEF SFU has joined the initiative of university and college students nation-wide to come together to help address humanitarian issues that millions of children face in developing nations. In supporting UNICEF Canada’s goals, they hope to educate, fundraise, and provide advocacy programs for those children in need. It is through this platform that like-minded peers can work together towards UNICEF’s vision of becoming the driving force that builds a world where the rights of every child are realized.
To further discuss what the club is all about, I had the chance to interview the president of UNICEF SFU, Katie Mai, who has been on board as president since September 2012. Katie offers valuable insights in regards to her involvement, her motivations, and as well, the kinds of events the club holds.
1. To start off, could you tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved with UNICEF SFU?
I'm a 4th year major in Health Sciences. My interest is in health promotion and social humanitarian work, and my time at SFU has led to many opportunities for me to pursue that - one of the most valuable being my experience with UNICEF SFU. My time with the club has really taught me teamwork and leadership, helped me grow in my passion, and has also been where I've met some of my best friends.
I first got involved with UNICEF SFU in my first year through Fall Clubs Days, and it has taken a very big role in my SFU life since then.
2. What can students expect when attending UNCEF SFU events? And how would you describe these events?
One of the greatest things about UNICEF SFU events is that there is such a large variety: from large-scale carnivals with food, bungee runs, and games, to intimate film screenings followed by discussion. Some of our events are meant to be fun and for meeting people, some are meant to be educational, and some are purely for fundraising purposes.
All events and meetings are open to everyone and we love meeting new faces every week.
3. What motivates or inspires you, Katie, to do the things you do with UNICEF SFU?
My biggest motivating factor has been the constant room for growth - both for myself and for the club. I learn SO much with each month of being involved through advocacy discussions, public speaking, and networking opportunities - just to name a few.
In terms of the club's growth, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life has been taking part in a team that makes the club better year by year. I know that one year from now, both myself and UNICEF SFU will have grown significantly, as we have since one year ago.
4. What has been the most memorable moment in your experience with this club thus far?
It's really difficult to pick just one, but I would say that one of the most memorable moments has been my first Prof in a Box event, where professors agreed to teach their lectures in a cardboard box given their class donates a certain amount of funds. We raised around $3,500, and it was through that event that I realized that UNICEF SFU was not just a student club, but an avenue where students like me could not only learn about child-focused humanitarian issues, but also engage and advocate to other students.
I haven’t yet found another avenue that provides a better setting and pool of resources for young adults to kindle their passions and reach out to other adults about key global issues.
5. On a final note, what are some main objectives or themes that UNICEF SFU will focus on for the 2014/2015 year?
UNICEF SFU focuses on two themes every year. The reason for this is because UNICEF Canada works through 6 areas of focus: Child Survival, Child Protection, Education, Advocacy, HIV/AIDS, and Emergency, and we find it more effective to concentrate our efforts on two of them. Thus, for the full year, our events are centered around the two themes, and all funds raised are donated towards those focus areas.
The vote for the club's themes for the 2014/15 school year will take place once the incoming executive team is selected at the start of the Fall semester.
One of our main objectives for this year is for the club to become more awareness- and advocacy-driven. I'm very proud of some of the educational initiatives that the club has organized in the past year; however, so far UNICEF SFU has shown more success in holding big fundraising and social events. This is really great, and now we'd like to also focus on developing the advocacy aspect of the events and grow as a social justice group.