Today we celebrate International Volunteer Day, a time to recognize the contributions that volunteers make to help build a community where all can belong and grow.
This year’s theme, chosen by United Nations Volunteers, is “Volunteer for an inclusive future.” According to their website, the theme aims to highlight “Social Development Goal 10 and the pursuit of equality – including inclusion – through volunteerism.”
Through volunteering, individuals make a positive impact on the lives of others. It is also an opportunity to connect with your community in meaningful ways, to find your passions and purpose, to build skills and competencies, and in many cases, bridge gaps between communities. You meet new people, learn more about our city, and create new networks of friends and colleagues.
Whether volunteering with ISANS programs, or in the community with vital organizations like Adsum House or Feed Nova Scotia, volunteers are essential to create healthier, welcoming and more inclusive communities.
Today we want to take a moment and say thank you. Thank you for helping immigrants build a future in Nova Scotia, and creating a community where all can belong and grow.
To mark the day, we asked some volunteers to share a few words about their volunteer experience.
Raghu Nagaraj – Professional Mentorship Volunteer
“As a former client with ISANS, a volunteer mentor helped me out initially as a support, guide, and Mentor. He helped me out to understand more about the local community, culture, and expectations put on me both personally and professionally. That volunteer helped me out to understand my strengths and build my confidence. Finally resulting in securing a job with an IT Software Service company.
Currently, I volunteer to help someone reach their goals and empower them to break out of cycles of frustration, and access improved job opportunities. I share my lessons learned and make people understand that this struggle is temporary. Volunteering allows me to help to build a community to make a small difference and it gives me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself”.
Kawthar Alnakhoudi – Volunteering in the Community Program
“I learned from volunteering how to be patient and how to deal with people and it also gives me the confidence to get involved in the community, practice my English and find a job. I can say all my volunteer experiences were fun and useful”.
Rayan Shehab – Volunteering in the Community Program
“I love volunteering because it teaches me how to be more committed, responsible and have a self-reliance. Also, I become more social and feel I am an effective member of the Halifax community”.
Razan Dervis – Volunteering in the Community Program
“I didn’t know where Dartmouth is when the ISANS volunteer coordinator was telling me about the volunteer opportunity there. I went with a group of volunteers to help out during the Nova Multifest event and I took the ferry for the first time. It was an amazing experience. I used to think that Dartmouth is very far but today I love going there and I love taking the ferry. I think volunteering helps me to know the city more”.
Lynn Fraser – Practice Interview Volunteer
“I became interested in the role of Practice Interviewer at ISANS as I sensed it would be a nice opportunity to share some of my experience as an employer responsible for finding and supporting talented individuals in health professions and administrative roles. What I did not anticipate was how rewarding it is to meet people of so many nationalities who are keen to start/resume careers and establish themselves and their families in NS. Living in a wonderful province that benefits greatly from immigrants, it is a pleasure to play even a small role in helping new Nova Scotians realize their employment goals and aspirations”.
Susan Cakmak – EAL Volunteer Tutor Program
“I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been having in the tutor program at ISANS which started around 2014 after teaching ESL in Colombia, Peru, and Morocco. It gave me the chance to continue here in Canada learning more about many different cultures which has always fascinated me and the challenges of moving to new countries which I have done myself. I have experienced the changes in the program over the years with the expansion of resources and support with increased funding now which has made a big difference.
When Canada responded to the refugee crisis in 2015 I became more involved with ISANS in the resettlement program and the renewed tutor program which was a major turning point for me after my getting to know many of the Syrian families, tutoring in their homes, many have become like family for me over the years along with students from other countries. As a result of my involvement with the Syrian families I now spend time in humanitarian work, last spring I volunteered in Greece on the island of Lesbos with Refugee4Refugees which gave me more insight about the horrendous situation many peoples experience before finding themselves here in Canada. I will return to this work in France and Greece this coming winter and thanks to the ISANS tutor program that motivated me to expand my volunteer work. The program coordinator has been a wonderful support for me and really appreciate her commitment to the volunteers”.
Betul AlFashtaki – Volunteering in the Community Program
“When I volunteer I get a positive energy and I feel that life is still beautiful. When I came to Canada there were volunteers helping me and my family and now I want to help others and give back to the community. Volunteering also gives me the opportunity to discover other cultures in Halifax. During my volunteering at the Garden Parade with ISANS, I saw the Nepali and Indian dance for the first time”.
To learn more about how you can get involved with volunteering at ISANS, please visit www.old.isans.ca/connect-with-community/volunteer-roles/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.