Familiar, Yet Not So Familiar

Familiar, Yet Not So Familiar

By: Gurleen Dhessi | Communication Co-op Student
  1491 reads

Who enjoys washing dishes? I do, but only at the gurdwara; a place of worship for Sikhs.

My dad would take me to the gurdwara every week when I was in grade three, so I could volunteer in the kitchen. I didn’t know how to cook, so I would either pour everyone water or do the dishes. But did I think that I would be back in the gurdwara kitchen through my co-op position? Nope.

I remember scrolling through the SFU website and seeing a post about a co-op student and her work term at Fraser Health. I quickly realized that she went to high school with me, and that her picture was taken at a gurdwara. I continued to skim through the article and explore the rest of the website.

When I enrolled into the co-op program, I wanted to experience something new and exciting. I really wanted to explore the tech industry or a fast-paced PR firm. I applied to numerous jobs that seemed to be everything, but familiar.

One day, I stumbled upon a job posting for the South Asian Health Institute at Fraser Health. I had an immediate flashback to the post I had seen earlier that year, and I only had to take one look at the job posting to know it was the one.

I felt a sense of reluctance, because it seemed too much in my comfort zone. I would be working with the South Asian community, alongside someone from my high school. I acknowledged that this was a silly problem and applied for the position, probably one of the best decisions of my life.

I would soon realize how much I didn’t know about my own community, especially how they cooked. From the stories shared by my co-workers to the direct interactions, I was always left surprised. I felt like I was in a new environment, because there was so much I didn’t know.

My main duties for this co-op position is to create content for social media, design graphics, web writing, edit articles, and help create presentations. Initially, it was challenging for me to alter my design style to better reach our target population, but now I think I have found the perfect balance. It has become super satisfying to monitor our social media posts as they always do well.

Sometimes my co-op position requires me to use a variety of skills and I love it! I have gotten the chance to facilitate a focus group, help distribute health information at temples, and take photos at a hot breakfast event. I do not like routine work, so this position allows me to have the best of both worlds.

What is my favourite part? Going to the same gurdwara my dad would take me to when I was younger.

Through my co-op position, I was back volunteering in the same gurdwara kitchen being nostalgic about washing dishes and pouring water. The only difference was this time I was a lot older and helping make rotis, which the volunteers taught me.

I never thought that I would be forced to go out of my comfort zone or learn new things in this position, but I was utterly wrong and that’s a good thing.


 Beyond the Article

  • Keep up to date with Gurleen by checking out her LinkedIn
  • Want to hear more stories of where culture and Co-op meet?  Read about Kathryn's Co-op with INAC.
  • Going on an international Co-op?  Laura shares her experience with re-entry culture shock.
Posted on June 27, 2018