Granted, that was quite lame and no one stopped me (in fact, Larrissa encouraged it).
In the past four years, Global Youth Volunteer Network (Global) has become a huge part of my life. It’s a student-run, non-profit, grassroots organization that provides students and young adults with the opportunity to connect social justice education with action. I credit this organization, more specifically the founder/director, Dave Skene, for consistently supporting my interests and fostering my passions for cross-cultural learning, social justice and human rights issues.
Since 2012, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Tata, Morocco, return again in 2013 as an intern, and co-lead a trip to Kyabirwa, Uganda in 2015. Despite how close Global is to my heart, I tend to shy away from sharing about it with my INDEV community because of the criticism it may receive. Admittedly, I’m scared of people branding Global Youth Volunteer Network as an organization that promotes volunteerism and the exhibition of white privilege in the global South. I believe its mission and values sets it apart from the rest, so if you can spare me a few minutes, let me use this platform to explain to you what Global means to me.
Truthfully, working for this NGO is not glamorous. Our office can be found at DVLB, Starbucks or Dave’s house (or really, anywhere we can get WiFi), posters are put together immediately after we watch a Youtube video about graphic design and food sales have been the most effective way to fundraise (thanks to all of our faithful, yet drunk, supporters). Clearly, Global is not a money-making-machine. Profit has never been one of Global’s strengths so breaking even is usually something that’s celebrated. Consequently, we accumulate a lot of stress within the 9 months of planning, learning, recruiting and fundraising for the trips and our partners. No, working for Global has not been glamorous.
That being said, I would never trade my time with Global for anything. I’m especially honoured to have had Dave mentor me throughout my university career; for teaching me about Indigenous solidarity in Canada, challenging me to adopt a more holistic lifestyle, and inspiring me to immerse myself in experiences and cultures. His humble life is a testament to the fact that money is neither an indicator of intrinsic wealth nor a determinant of your dreams. Thank you, Dave.
Travelling to Morocco and Uganda was also immensely educational and enlightening. On countless occasions, I was reminded to slow down, be present, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. By building relationships with the Indigenous communities, I was able to learn about the social issues that the Berbers and Moroccans were facing as well as the environmental and economic hardships of the Sogas in Uganda. Moreover, the people I can proudly call my good friends reminded me how of sacred life actually is and the goodwill that a smile can bring. Positive body language can break down barriers of unfamiliarity, especially in places where language isn’t the common denominator and it’s a lesson I’ll carry with me when I go on placement.
To whatever Global has in the future, 1 year from now or 10 years from now, I will always credit it for empowering me to work compassionately towards a more sustainable future.
Is working for this NGO glamorous? No. But the lessons I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed and the friendships I made in Canada, Morocco and Uganda have indefinitely made my life glamorous.
GG (Global girl)