Written by Owais Ghory, Summer Student Youth Coordinator
If I had to pick one word to describe the end of my Youth Advisory Board (YAB) term this past spring, it would be bittersweet. On the one hand I was happy to have achieved many goals and learned as much as I did from the overall experience, it was terribly sad to bid farewell to this wonderful online YAB community that I volunteered with for a year—together, we learned from our mistakes, grew as people and put our passions for water into action through the Great Waters Challenge.
“It sounded like the best summer job for me because I could incorporate my personal passion for water with both individual work and outreach work, leading youth water workshops.”
As we bid farewell and wrapped up YAB 2017-18, I thought “this is it” for my role with Waterlution. And so, when I learned of a summer student position with with the team in Vancouver to assist with youth programs, I couldn’t hold in my excitement! I shaped my summer around this role and was thrilled when I learned I got it. I was going to be working from home most of the time while meeting every week with Olivia Allen, Project Lead for Youth Programs, for mentorship and assisting in events in downtown Vancouver. It sounded like the best summer job for me because I could incorporate my personal passion for water with both individual work and outreach work, leading youth water workshops.
“I researched various curriculums, looking at each province and where curriculums included teaching about indigenous people, culture and history.”
My days were filled with a lot of flexibility. Essentially, I was learning and working through different ways of connecting youth to different programming using skills I picked up as a YAB. I researched various curriculums, looking at each province and where curriculums included teaching about indigenous people, culture and history. I examined multiple curriculum documents to prepare a resource guide for the YAB. I particularly was impressed with BC’s new curriculum and its multidisciplinary inclusiveness of Aboriginal and indigenous content, from Math and Science to Fine Arts and Humanities. Overall, these tasks helped me develop my editing, researching and writing skills.
“The time I spent this summer as a Youth Coordinator was wonderful and rewarding, especially because I got to work with a diverse range of children and youth.”
Missing the YAB experience I had just left behind, I was excited to be introduced to the 2018-2019 YAB team! It reminded me of my own first call as a YAB member, meeting so many new faces online of like-minded individuals discussing their passion for water, and willing to contribute to this project like I had.
“We created a poster where visitors could write the word “Water” in their respective languages—we ended up with a beautiful representation of the linguistic diversity in Vancouver that day.”
Working in this capacity meant I could attend meaningful events—on one day, Olivia and I attended a reconciliation event where we could discuss our projects and goals for future young water leaders. I also visited the Vancouver Aquarium twice to deliver workshops to summer campers. The time I spent this summer as a Youth Coordinator was wonderful and rewarding, especially because I got to work with a diverse range of children and youth. They were very engaged and thoroughly participated in the workshop discussions and fun activities revolving around water issues and use.
In mid-July, I hosted a Waterlution outreach booth at the Downtown Vancouver Farmers Market where children could participate in the fun water activities we set up. Some visitors tried out a water quality testing activity, which was made possible with the help of Evergreen. One stand out activity was when we created a poster where visitors could write the word “Water” in their respective languages—we ended up with a beautiful representation of the linguistic diversity in Vancouver that day.
“The experience boosted my confidence and skills in facilitating and mentoring a group of older youth.”
Before the beginning of August, I spent a lot of time planning the YAB leadership training retreat with Olivia. It was a big task as we had to live up to the hype we had set for the retreat! I learned a lot about event-planning and preparation, and realized how much effort is required to ensure everything is in place for multi-day events. I even recruited volunteer photographers for the retreat and ended up finding two AMAZING individuals who were as enthusiastic as the Waterlution and volunteer YAB team!
The retreat weekend finally came and it was a blast! It started with me meeting YAB member Cairo and connecting with her as we carpooled to Squamish. Upon entering the room, I was greeted by all these beaming faces that I had only met online previously—it was great to be introduced in person. We were situated at the beautiful Cheakamus Centre, which blew everyone away with its exceptional facility, grounds, and cabin accommodations. I think the peaceful and inviting atmosphere of our location complemented the work we set out to do with the YAB upon first meeting one another.
I was proud to host a World Cafe with Olivia on the topic of Culture which gave rise to some great discussions amongst the YAB. Following a harvest of the discussions, our Squamish National Cultural Educators arrived and took us on an incredible Nature and Cultural walk. Overall, I was thrilled to be included in this new YAB experience in this way as a coordinator, and could relate to how special it was to work together in this way, and connect as a team.
A standout moment for me was leading the BC team training for the Great Waters Challenge covering water workshop facilitation, program details and answering questions. The experience boosted my confidence and skills in facilitating and mentoring a group of older youth. I could go on writing a book about the retreat because there is so much more. If you want to find out more about the retreat, read this awesome post by our YAB member Danielle.
“This role definitely gave purpose to my Summer 2018.”
Nearing the end of my summer job with Waterlution, I’m very grateful for the skills, knowledge, connections and FUN this summer had to offer! I will not stop being curious and connected with the Youth Advisory Board and school programs, because of all the time and passion I put into this project.
Shout out to the YAB—you all are amazing and have no idea how much your participation meant to me. We all became extremely close in such a short period of time and I miss everyone. And lastly, shout out to Olivia for being the most wonderful and understanding mentor and supervisor. I have learned so much from you!
This role definitely gave purpose to my Summer 2018.
Thank you, Canada Summer Jobs!