Dylan Bub: “My Experience in Tanzania So Far Has Been Beyond Incredible”

Dylan Bub is on location in Tanzania to foster youth empowerment at The Umoja Centre in Arusha. Dylan shares his enthusiasm for going on his first YCI project and gives an insight into what it’s like to live and work in Tanzania as a YCI Youth Ambassador.

View of Mount Kilimanjaro from Arusha

View of Mount Kilimanjaro from Arusha

Why volunteer? Why leave the comfort and stability of everyday life knowing that life abroad will be tiring, different and sometimes difficult? Is it to teach others, to learn, to experience a new country, to meet new people and to make friends? I have the pleasure to be in Tanzania for 8-weeks this summer and I have already experienced all these things and more.

My experience in Tanzania so far has been beyond incredible. Having volunteered abroad before, I have had the thrill of immersing myself in this new country but as the saying goes, you never cross the same rivers twice.

In my first few weeks in Tanzania, I noticed a couple of unique things about this country that goes beyond the great weather, palm trees, and exotic food. The volunteers are all amazing people, each bringing a unique set of skills to their projects. Even more impressive are the in-country coordinators whom have been enthusiastic and welcoming to me since day one, making me feel completely at home. In the short time I have been in Tanzania, I can already feel that this trip will be life altering.

My particular placement is in Arusha where I have the pleasure of working with another YCI volunteer Katherine Lu at The Umoja Centre. This Centre is a fantastic place for Tanzanian youth since it equips students with the essential skills to help them achieve their future goals. Imagine having your future goal of going to secondary school, or opening a tourism business come to fruition through the support of the  The Umoja Centre. This Centre is clearly an invaluable resource for many youth in Tanzania and I feel privileged to be volunteering here.

Speaking of Arusha, there is no doubt that this is a beautiful city. If you’re a fan of wonderful weather, great food, a safari and Mount Kilimanjaro as your view then “karibu to Arusha!” Lastly, as a YCI volunteer, you’ll be sure to not only gain a memorable experience, but also to gain valuable skills. I say open your minds and your horizons to the unique volunteer projects YCI offers.

Here’s to challenges and personal growth ahead!

 

Kindness Connect: Recipients of YCI’s Global Action Grant Winners Take Website to the Next Level

Jon Burns and Kevan Osmond were selected as winners of YCI’s Global Action Grant for Kindness Connect, a web platform they are creating for volunteers and community organizations alike. Their goal is to remove barriers to volunteering and get more people ‘up on their feet’ doing good work for great organizations.

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Kindness Connect - Jon (left) Kevan (right)

Our Progress
The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity. Building the Kindness Connect web platform has run much like your typical software development project, but with one notable exception. We began with ideas: big ones, little ones, far-fetched ones, and easily attainable ones. With all of the ideas in front of us it was time to prioritize by thinking about how each could turn into a useful feature. The result was a list of core requirements that would make up Kindness Connect.

The next step was to thoughtfully sketch each feature into web design mock-ups. This was when the real grind began. Taking sketches and making them come to life is a lot like taking a sheet of music and using an instrument to bring a song to life. In our case, the sheet of music is the design sketch, the instrument is computer programming code, and the song is the web platform.

However, this hasn’t been a solo mission, which brings us to our notable exception. At the beginning of the project we set a rule that this would be a collaborative effort. We weren’t going to build it alone. True to this rule, we’ve been meeting with community organizations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). These organizations have provided us with invaluable feedback on their workflow, difficulties they face, product suggestions, and so forth.

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Jon and Kevan hosting a workshop at the University of Waterloo’s Leadership Starts Here Conference

Next Up
We’re happy to announce that the technical development of Kindness Connect is almost complete and we’re moving onto a milestone that we’ve been looking forward to: putting Kindness Connect in the hands of the public. This milestone is really important for us. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate what we’ve been building, connect with users, and amass some real world usage.

Kindness Connect's Map Search: a tool for finding opportunities in a user's area

Kindness Connect’s Map Search: a Tool for Finding Opportunities in a User’s Area

We’re fortunate to have the support of some great organizations in the GTA who have agreed to help us with this public testing phase. We’ll also be looking for individuals in the area to evaluate from a volunteer perspective.

Community
The community has been a great source for generating ideas for Kindness Connect. Frequently in random meetings and conversations people have shared their ideas by saying “wouldn’t it be cool if” or “have you thought of” and often these ideas have made their way into development.

We are grateful for such input and equally grateful to YCI for selecting us as the recipients of the Global Action Grant. We feel as though we have been warmly welcomed into YCI’s fantastic community and would like to extend an invitation to the YCI community to provide us with further suggestions. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line, introduce yourself, and share any ideas you might have at info@kindnessconnect.com. It’s simple: if you have ideas, we’d love to hear them.

Thank-you to YCI for your support and to the YCI community for keeping us inspired.

Happy volunteering!

– Jon and Kevan

Email – info@kindnessconnect.com
Twitter – @KindnessToronto https://twitter.com/kindnesstoronto
Facebook – www.facebook.com/KindnessConnect
Website – www.kindnessconnect.com

Another YCI Intern Joins the Team: Welcome Diana!

Diana Chiodo has recently joined YCI as the new Public Engagement Intern. Diana is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Politics and Governance program and continued her studies with a specialized Food Security Certificate program. She is taking courses in project management at the University of Toronto and hopes to soon become a designated Project Management Professional. Diana became interested in international development and food politics from her studies and experience in a Canada World Youth program where she spent 6 weeks in Kimende, Kenya supporting local environmental group KENVO. Diana is passionate about youth engagement, and creating healthy, sustainable food systems. She is excited to take on the challenges of being the new Public Engagement Intern.

Diana is totally fearless holding a baby alligator

Diana is totally fearless holding a baby alligator

I first heard of Youth Challenge International at an environmental career fair and was immediately drawn to YCI’s focus on building skills in youths. Personally, I was interested in the Youth Innovator program because of the specialized projects in supporting local partners abroad and opportunities to build work experience in an international setting. YCI challenges youths to think critically and act as leaders to drive social change and to me, that’s empowering. My position at YCI entails maintaining good relationships with existing alumni and organizational partners and to build new opportunities to reach out to more youths. The cool part of my job is to facilitate YCI’s alumni programs, which brings together like-minded people with a passion for youth and development.

I am responsible for monitoring and analyzing public engagement opportunities that we are currently undertaking and finding new opportunities so that I can strategically plan events for the summer and new school year.

My interests in international development stems from my desire to influence social change and bring about equities in society. It’s why I was attracted to studying politics in the first place. However, I became tired of hearing about international facts & figures from textbooks and set out to see how development works firsthand. I have been influenced by my experiences in Kenya and in New Orleans, helping to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and also making global initiatives local. In every experience I have been a part of, the magic of strong communities and youth driven initiatives are what inspire me as I build a career in international development. I am passionate about health and youth livelihoods and the possibilities for building entrepreneurship within sustainable agriculture.

During my spare time, I love watching movies, practicing hot yoga and spending time outdoors. I was born and raised in Toronto and although I love the buzz of city life, I relish escaping to some lush green lands! My new favourite escape place is taking a boat through Georgian Bay in Penetanguishene. I’m a huge natural beauty health enthusiast as well and have had good success in making my own natural lotions. They smell so delicious; you usually have to fight off the temptation to eat them. Maybe one day I’ll market them!