May 28, 2013

My Experience Volunteering with CCIC

As a novice volunteer and recent grad, I didn’t know exactly what to expect when it came to volunteering with CCIC.  I have been very focused on studying and working for the last few years but have always wanted to volunteer.  Last spring I volunteered at a Management Development Conference for Women at Carleton University and found the experience to be very rewarding so I jumped at the chance to volunteer at the Forum and AGM.

From the get-go, our volunteer coordinator Amy offered us a choice of meaningful tasks and roles as well as the chance to actively participate in the forum. I joined a workshop for emerging leaders, chatted with those who participated in the public debate and also volunteered as a rapporteur during one of several breakout groups. Other volunteers have been busy tweeting, snapping photos, taking videos and even engaging with parliamentarians.

Although I have no experience in international development, I have worked at Natural Resources Canada through the Federal Student Work Experience Program and was immersed in several international development issues related to sustainable mining in Canada and abroad. During the emerging leaders workshop, I was able to share my experiences and learn from others who were working in their respective fields. This was experiential learning at play, which reminded me so much of the seminars that I had participated in during grad school at Carleton. I was instantly impressed and filled with anticipation of what the next few days would bring.

Later that evening I attended the public debate. After recently participating in some heated classroom debates, I was excited to get the chance to sit back, relax and enjoy. Nevertheless, I found myself taking notes, as if I was still in school anticipating and preparing my rebuttals. During the networking session, the debaters were gracious enough to partake in interviews with volunteers. At times I felt like I was the one being interviewed but was luckily able to integrate some of the issues that were discussed in the emerging leaders workshop. The debaters also took the time to offer young volunteers timely advice to help us in our career ambitions, which I know was greatly appreciated.

Thus far, I would have to say that my role as a rapporteur was the most surprising and rewarding. Our breakout group approached the session in a unique manner by first sharing personal stories and then analyzing these experiences.  Listening to such passionate and open-minded thinking was inspiring. After creating our flip chart, I couldn’t wait to see what other groups had come up with and was proud to see some of the exceptional recommendations that were developed!

The gala awards, dinner and dance capped off day one of the forum. I know that my fellow volunteers were happy to end an eventful day by sitting back and relaxing at the Museum of Nature. What a beautiful setting to enjoy good food, conversation and dance!

I am so happy that I decided to volunteer with CCIC and thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Annual Forum. Initially, my motivation for volunteering was to make some sort of contribution while learning more about pertinent development issues. But this was no ordinary volunteer experience and has far exceeded my expectations! Several voices have been represented with the common aim of working together to improve the human condition. I feel like I’ve developed a better understanding of these perspectives and would have to say that my own perspective has been broadened.

Thank you CICC for an amazing opportunity and congratulations on a successful forum!

Zainab Bekkari

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