Neema Mwaungulu has been a volunteer EAL tutor and Conversation Circle Facilitator and shared what volunteering means to her.
Why did you volunteer at ISANS?
“I became familiar with ISANS through the ICE Program – a pilot career development program catered for International Students at Saint Mary’s University. Originally from Malawi I am a 2nd year graduate student in the Department of International Development Studies (IDS). As an aspiring development practitioner working with vulnerable communities and assisting in the improvement of people’s livelihood is work that I actively engaged in in my home country, and is what propelled me to pursue development orientated work in my professional career. As an organization, ISANS very much aligned with those personal core values.
As a newcomer myself, I understand the stress and anxiety that comes with assimilating and navigating the terrain of a new country. I thought that my involvement with the EAL Program would be a perfect way to interact with my community, share some English knowledge and hopefully gain a deeper understanding of some of the challenges that other newcomers face integrating into Canadian society. Given the opportunity to facilitate a ‘Conversation Circle’ at Bethany Church was initially daunting but with the assistance of the ladies from the church and the support of the ISANS coordinator I found my feet. By the end of our circle, we managed to forge a good relationship with the participants. We shared our stories every week, we laughed, we encouraged each other and during group reading comprehension we celebrated small milestones with chocolate and candy. All these interactions taught me that leaning into discomfort is the best way to grow personally and is incredibly enriching. I am thankful to ISANS and the ladies at Bethany Church for trusting me enough to see the process through.”
Thank you, Neema, for all that you do!