Nida has recently joined the YCI team in Toronto as our Public Engagement Assistant. Her passion for education and development has caused her to remain engaged in various community building activities. She feels her experience of leading her university’s Emergency Medical Services department made her realize the immense capacity that young adults have for facilitating change. Having moved recently from Pakistan, Nida hopes to continue harnessing youth potential towards positive community engagement.
How did you get involved with YCI?
As a strong proponent of youth engagement, I have participated in community projects for disabled children, young brick kiln laborers and adults with developmental disabilities. But it was my extensive experience of participating and later on, supervising an Emergency Medical System at my university that gave me great insight into youth as an essential element for development. Witnessing the team’s accomplishments and the students’ potential for positive change, has made me want to be a part of an organization experienced in directing youth into productive activities without disregarding the beliefs and traditions of the target community.
While my search for such an organization continued, I also happened to move from Pakistan to Canada. Here a friend (who now happens to be my colleague) felt my interests would be well matched at YCI. On her suggestion, I began to explore YCI for appropriate opportunities and I’m happy to have been selected to work with an enthusiastic team of professionals.
What does your position at YCI entail?
Working in the capacity of a Public Engagement Assistant, I am responsible for reaching out to potential volunteers and young adults regarding our programs and opportunities for community engagement through recruitment fairs and fundraising events. As a front- line contact, I help direct their concerns to the appropriate person in charge. Furthermore, I prepare and arrange constructive activities for our alumni volunteers ranging from career workshops to mentorship opportunities. Most of all, I cherish the exchange of ideas and the chance to interact with diverse individuals.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing youth today?
Given the multitude of problems facing the young generation, I would say the lack of education and contextualized knowledge is by far the biggest issue. Working with different students and communities has made me appreciate the concept of specialized knowledge and the impact it has on developmental projects. Educational systems must push the boundaries of learning so that upcoming generations can not only feel a close connection, and hence dedication, to the community they serve but also use available resources in an efficient manner.
Outside of work, what are some of your favourite things to do?
Personally, I have always had a penchant for creating things. I have chosen to express my creativity through knitting, baking and recently painting. My most recent knitting project was a tapestry which has unfortunately been suspended but I hope to restart soon. While my exposure to art is limited to geometric patterns in Islamic Art, I look forward to polishing these skills in the future. I’m also an avid reader of mystery and suspense novels. Last but not the least, I enjoy traveling, meeting with people and learning about their cultures, customs and languages.
– Nida Afaque, Public Engagement Assistant Intern, Fall 2013