Don't wait for perfection – jump in

October 22, 2018
Print

Community-engaged projects can be surprising. But as Shantelle Medel shares with us, “It is better to jump in and encounter the imperfections than be paralyzed by trying to achieve perfection.” It’s messy work, but worth it. Shantelle’s project, We Are The World: Stories of Resilience, is co-created magazine that will showcase seniors' stories of resilience locally and from around the world.

There have been two main challenges we have faced throughout this journey so far. Trying to move forward with the project in the midst of balancing work and school has been difficult due to our limited capacity. Another main challenge is that there are so many ways to approach project planning and implementation. Since we presented our project, our vision for the project has grown. Although our new vision is exciting, innovative, and has more potential to secure sustainability down the road, it requires more work and connections to achieve. It has been difficult to balance being pragmatic and creative with our project plan.

If I could travel back in time, I would have told myself to make connections with organizations, seniors, and students who can be involved with the project earlier. Given our limited capacity, we delayed making these connections and it has been hard to reignite momentum.

Although we have not implemented our project yet, this journey has been an enriching process personally and professionally. It has allowed us to grow as public health practitioners in training, providing an opportunity for us to implement what we have learned in the classroom in the community. This journey has also required reflecting on how we can lean on the wisdom seniors and students have, to share to inform our project’s progress and how we can best engage with community members. I look forward to partnering with seniors and students to implement this project!

SFU’s Community Engagement team has been an incredible support and source of wisdom throughout this process. They have provided invaluable advice whenever it is needed. I have appreciated their flexibility in being available anytime we have questions or are trying to work through an obstacle.

Do not be afraid to make mistakes. It is better to jump in and encounter the imperfections than be paralyzed by trying to achieve perfection. How did that advice play out during your project?

We are still in the process of setting up our project. When we received the advice, it was timely as we were paralyzed with worrying too much about setting our project perfectly and achieving sustainability immediately. This advice helped mobilize our project’s progress. Now we are in the process of connecting with organizations and other students who are interested in supporting the project.

We Are The World: Stories of Resilience, was the Grand Prize Award winning idea for Burnaby in the 2017-18 SFU Student Community Engagement Competition.