What’s so great about volunteering? It’s a way for you to stay connected with other SFU students and the greater community. As well, it’s about filling in the gaps that you see in the causes that you are passionate about and furthering them. Last but not least, volunteering offers you endless opportunities for professional and personal skill development.
These are just some of the benefits of volunteerism according to Sana Siddiqui, a Criminology student, who has been active in SFU LEAD, Peer Programs and the SFU Muslim Students’ Association. Read on to find out how volunteering is helping Sana to further her career goals while giving back to SFU and her community…
Q: What organization(s) you are involved with and why/how you got involved?
A: Currently I am involved with SFU Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). I wanted to meet other Muslims on campus and have a greater sense of the community. The MSA does a great job at outreach, so before I came to SFU I had heard a lot about the MSA and had already met a few members at other events. When I got here I sought them out at clubs days, and from there MSA introduced many new ways to get involved in the greater Muslim community, for example, through the Canadian Islamic Cultural Expo and Islamic History Month BC.
There was also a strong mentorship component with MSA that helped me make the jump from high school leadership to university leadership. For instance, some of the executives were able Orientation Leaders and one had completed the SFU LEAD program. I learned about these opportunities through their recommendation and became an orientation leader for two years and completed the SFU LEAD program. Through orientation and LEAD, I was able to meet fellow student leaders while I give back to the SFU community through my leadership skills.
On a more Criminology-related field, I am part of the National Security Youth Advisory Council of BC. This opportunity bridges my academic background and my community engagement, and has provided me with the opportunity to engage in critical issues in the Muslim community, such as media representation, victimization and criminal extremism.
Right now, in addition to the SFU MSA, SFU Peer Programs and Islamic History Month Canada, I am also really excited to be involved with the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics. Through my volunteer position, I will be using my customer services skills to help everyone from athletes to international media and Olympic officials to obtain their documentation in order to enter the venues that they need to get into for the games. Being from Vancouver, I am thrilled to be able to represent my hometown to the world!
Q: How/what you are contributing to your cause/organization?
A: Volunteerism is very much about meeting the needs of the community that you serve, and as such, I have filled in different gaps and provided different skills in different positions. I tend to navigate towards public relations roles —often doing media interviews or VIP relations. With MSA, I have planned events, built relationships with other clubs, outreached to the greater SFU Community, embarked on constitutional reform and have been an advocate for important community issues. With Orientation, it was more able team building and mentoring, and with SFU LEAD and Peer Programs it’s about self and skill improvement.
Q: What you are learning from your volunteer work?
A: I have learned a great deal from volunteering! I have developed my communication, leadership and team building skills. I have also expanded my knowledge of critical issues within the communities that I worked in, which has, in turn, fueled my passion for social justice and my career goals in social work. This makes my community work informed based on the needs of the communities I am serving. For example, through my work with the RCMP Youth Advisory Council I decided to do my honors on the victimization of Muslim Women. This was an issue that came up frequently but has not really been addressed. As a result, I now have the connections in the community to pursue this research and I know that this research will help the community.
I have also come to understand myself better. With LEAD and Peer Programs, we did a lot of reflection, goal setting and personality testing. This is especially important in knowing your boundaries, your strengths and challenges and how to motivate yourself. So now when I come across a certain conflict within myself and/or with others or I react a certain way in a situation, I can better understand why and deal with it based on the skills and knowledge I gained.
Check out Part 2 of Sana’s interview!