Tag Archives: Volunteering

Volunteering with Economic Planning Board, Islamabad

What makes you feel good and satisfied in life is the thing which you love to do? It can be anything; sometime, it can be as simple as having a conversation with other people and sharing new ideas or new information to benefit others. To me it is meeting new people and volunteering to bring them at one platform for any specific reason. Bringing something new on the table and getting oneself involved in the activities for the well-being and prosperity of disadvantaged people means a lot to me.

Being born in a very beautiful but very remote area of Pakistan – Hamza, I was exposed to the value of community development through volunteerism from a young age as thousands of youth in area had played and still paying a vital role in uplifting our society. The power of volunteerism especially by youth to bring some semblance of balance in life of people who in need had filled my thoughts since long.

As I began to look beyond my micro universe, it became clear to me that to serve communities better a platform was inevitable and had far-reaching effect on society. I along with my friends, who were also moved by the same cause, joined a forum called Economic Planning Board (EPB) where many young professionals and students come together for a specific reason. Economic Planning board is a platform, led by volunteers, where youth and professionals are brought together so that they can solve the problem and issues faced by our communities and play their role in community development.

We at EPB, through different interventions, benefit our community especially youth not only economically but also socially, physically, and psychologically. These intentions are carried out through different programs which are designed to uplift people fall into different socio-economic status. The major program we work in are as follow.

 

Human Capital

  • Skills Development
  • Vocational Training
  • Job Placement
  • Professional
  • Development

Personal Financial Management

  • Family Budgeting
  •  Retirement Saving Plans
  • Insurance
  • Investment

Business Development Services

  • Entrepreneur / Business Development
  • Business Retention and Expansion
  • Access to Micro Loan / SME Loan
  • Agriculture Inputs/ Technical Support

Alliance and Groups

  • Trade/Business Alliances
  • Professional Associations
  • Networking Groups

These programs are conducted by our volunteers – professionals and students – who work to help and guide those who are embarking to a new chapter of their life. Every year, thousands of community members are supported in one way or another though these interventions. We help them by showing a clear path on which everyone can pursue their careers. The best thing we do is arranging different events for people and bringing them together at one platform in order to bring smiles and happiness in their faces who usually go through hardship and tough life. We also sometimes arrange different trips and hiking’s to encourage them to be closer to the nature and understand the value which they miss in their lives otherwise.

Many of you might not know about and taste a lot the values of community service which makes your life happier and healthier. Joining this group as volunteer was a great idea and has really encouraged me to share the great benefit of volunteerism with people. I have been a member of this forum for last two years. I found it interesting as they are arranging different events, programs, sessions, and many other projects to build a healthy future for our community. People who work here are all volunteers; they volunteer to learn and to make themselves happier.

Post written by Meher Sultana, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria 2016-2017, Pakistan

Post edited on November 20, 2017

CCI Volunteering at The Vienna Oktoberfest 2017

Vienna, VA – I, with other CCI fellows, joined a volunteerism activity in Oktoberfest 2017 at 243 Church St NW (10/7). The location was about one hour driving from my home in Alexandria to the festival area in Vienna. Arriving in the location, people had been crowded in every spots in the festival. The festival were placed in several blocks and blocked the street from any traffic, letting people from all over the towns, even out of states, come and enjoy things offered in the festival. There were many things to see: art exhibition, Vienna’s Little Library 120th Anniversary, music concert, Musical Theater Performance, culinary, and, the main destination, beer festival.
All across the street, there were lots of tents erected line by line displaying artistic pieces by the local artists. One exhibition tent that interested me was decorated as Abraham Lincoln all-abouts. Visitors could find T-shirts, cups, flutter flags, name board, and other furniture that had the sign of one of the most influential US Presidents. So far, every place I visited always reflects the spirit of Abraham Lincoln in many forms like statue, furniture, and poster. I can say he is everywhere in US and becomes the spirit of Americans.
Abraham Lincoln Art Exhibition
One of my favorite parts as well as the most special one at the time was the Vienna’s Little Library 120th Anniversary which has served literature needs of the Vienna people since 1897. They were holding book exhibition. I felt so much blessed when I found that I could find and buy my favorite books for only 50 cent for each. Not only old interesting books, there were many other impressive contemporary novels and other books from different genres like psychology, philosophy, history and many more offered with very low price. Besides, they also conducted a special book talk by local writers in the next week which I unluckily could not manage to attend. However I could follow up the event in their social media account. I found that all events are easily accessible through social media.
Beside of the exhibition, there were also music concert and musical theatre that added more options to visit in the Vienna Oktoberfest 2017. In front of the stage, all audiences from the elders to the youngers, all mixed-race Americans were dancing together enjoying songs sang by the musicians whose songs enabled everyone to move from their seat to the stage to join the dance. Other than that, visitors also were able to watch drama theater which was full of musical Disney instrument. The performance was Peter Pan story. It was very impressive and successfully brought all audiences’ mind to the dream land, especially, the children. I could still feel how happy the children watching the drama directly on the stage, instead of their TV Screen.
Peter Pan Musical Theater
I volunteered in handing wristband to the visitors to get the beer by screening their ID card. It was not literally an easy job. The wristband marked them to be over 21 years old as the official requirement for US people to drink alcohol. If any of them below 21 wearing the band was inspected by the police to drink beer, my fellow volunteers and I would be of course responsible. However we managed to complete our works well since nobody was found to be so. It was fun to meet and serve people who were very excited to enjoy their beer. The funny part was when an old men came to ask their wristband and I was insisted to ask for their ID card to make sure he was over 21 years old. He asked, “is it not clearly visible for you that I am old enough for the beer, young man?”. Then I replayed, “as today you just never looked younger than before, Sir,” and we both were laughing. Many people were very pleasant for a conversation and it gave me more chances to directly learn American culture by doing my task as an age screener.
Irics, CCI participant from Indonesia, is giving a wristband to the visitor, marking her as over 21.
Having successfully conducted for ten years in a row, this festival not only purposes as an annual event where people can meet each other in weekend and have fun with exhibitions, concerts, and other entertainments offered, the event also raises money for the local charity that works for homeless, orphan children, and other people in need. Therefore I could meet many local people devoting their time as volunteers to serve the visitors. In that point, I find it as a traditional value of Americans in devoting themselves to serve their community in volunteerism.
Irics, Herman, Natalia, and Camila are posing after working as wristband volunteer
Post written by Muhammad Arham, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Annandale from Indonesia

The CCI Cohort Volunteers at the Turkish Festival

The annual Turkish festival for the 2017 fall season was a blast! The Nova CCI cohort was part of this amazing experience. I was designated to the kids tent which was exciting because I love children. The general atmosphere was awesome – there were a lot of people at the festival and I could assume that the most of them were Turkish, even the music that was playing was from turkey. After been at the kids tent I went to help at the coffee tent- I served the best Turkish coffee there is, and how do I know this? The smiles of the people who drank it.

In the kids tent I taught the kids how to make beads and taught them how to paint pictures, the parents of the kids also participated in beads making. One thing that I like about kids is the energy they bring to any situation, they have a unique perspective on how things work. I spent most of my time in the kids tent- I did two shifts with the kids and my last two shift were in the coffee tent. The activities I performed in the coffee tent was to take orders then rush to serve coffee – it was a fun activity since I had never done anything of this nature before.

I started my volunteering from 10:00am until 09:00pm, the day of the festival was on the 23 September 2017. One important thing I learned is that culture is vital and it rests upon the people of that culture to conserve it. The tolerance that is practiced in the United States is astonishing, It is not every country that allows people to bring their own cultures to their countries. If there is one thing that the U.S stands for is self-determination of different people within the American society.

My experience has been great ever since I came to America. I have cherished the ideals that make the country tick. Every heartbeat of America is supported by volunteers and had working individuals who are truly patriotic.

CCI Student Vuyani Maduna, from South Africa, volunteering at the Turkish Festival.

 

Post written by Anjum Begum, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India

Reflecting on the Experiential Learning & Volunteer Fair

As I always says, my experience in this program is beyond my expectation because my experience is greater than and beyond my imagination. But if I want to categorize my experiences, the greatest of it all was the experiential learning and  volunteer fair. This was organize by CCI coordinators for we the participants to get the opportunity to meet business organizations to seek internships and volunteer opportunities.

This gave me a chance to meet the various representatives to introduced my self and shared my experience on the working field to them. I also represented my resume to them to check my track records and to know my education level and also my specific course of study. The first person I met, I was little nervous and pressure so I couldn’t express myself to my fullest satisfaction but as I moved on, all the tension and the fear in me vanished and I was able to impress them. And as a marketer, our greatest asset in communication skills and interpersonal relationships that will make you to attract and persuade customers to buy your products. It was amazing for me because it gave me that opportunity to talked to business and I can now present myself before companies to seek for internships and volunteer opportunities. There is no word I Patrick can use to describe CCI Program because the impacts that this program has made just two months in my life is magnificent and I want to take this opportunity to thank my coordinators for the marvelous works they have being doing for us. We are so grateful.

Post written by Patrick  Asampana, 2017-2018 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from Ghana

Share the Love

Sharing is caring. CCI Program has given me the opportunity to experience this beautiful phrase through volunteering. I have witnessed how American loves to give back to the community and to help those in need. There are people who are willing to sacrifice their time, energy, mind, and even money to put smiles on somebody’s else face.

As CCI participant we are required to do minimum 125 hours of volunteering, therefore I and some friends signed up to help Alexandria Dept. of Community and Human Services last year, December 11th-14th, distributing Christmas presents for low-income families.

I was amazed of the number of presents were delivered to the office. There were literally more than 1000 boxes and bags filled up with things. I and some other volunteers were marking and counting the presents, we put them in different sections based on their numbers to make it easy for us to find them when the listed families came to take them the next few days. More and more presents were delivered each day by those who signed up as donors. Little children came with their parents holding small boxes they had helped wrapping to be given to people they never even met before. There were new and beautiful bicycles coming in ready to be taken away to make other small children happy, Christmas trees and its ornaments to lighten up some more houses, jackets and gloves to warm some more people during winter, and many other things.

The fact that the donors didn’t even know the people they have been assigned to help personally but still they joyfully spent their time, energy, and money to brighten up those people’s holidays just really touched my heart. The donors simply registered through the office’s website, then they were given lists of families they could choose to help. Some of them even did more than one families. They received lists of things the family needed and then they started shopping, wrapping and delivering them to the office. Later on, the families came to the office to take them. We as the volunteers helped around to carry the things out for the families and to load them into their cars. I really enjoyed the work I did during those four days since I was able to witness the joy expressed on those people’s faces especially the children when they got new bikes or other cool stuffs. Even the donors came in happily with bags and boxes knowing that some people would have merrier Christmas or happier holidays time this year.


Volunteering has been a great learning process for me and also an eye opener of how much an individual or group of people can do to make better life for everybody else. What you do matters, you can choose to either put sulk or smile on other’s face. For me a smile it is.

Post written by Picessylia Anakay, CCI participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Indonesia

Life is not a race, but a journey

Life is not a race, but a journey. Make each second of your life worth it.

This is something I learnt during the CCI Program’s retreat. A retreat which helped us focus on the reason why we came to the USA, we, the participants from different countries.

CCI NOVA during Pathways to Success Program

Before coming to this retreat, I was focused on my classes, volunteering, and internship. However, I couldn’t think much further, neither what I will be doing after my CCI Program. Certainly, I will be going back to my life, but I don’t want to become the same after this program.

Being able to use each second of my life to make a better place.

Through this program, I have noticed, I have learned, that the more you give a deeper thinking about each topic, you get to know that these topics are related, linked, and connected to one another. They are like our body. If one single part is not well, all rest of the members are also sick.

Let’s keep in mind that our common goal is to make our world a better place. For that, we need to be together, think together, talk together, share ideas, listen, and understand. We just need to believe in ourselves, so that we can reach the top of the mountain. Let’s believe that we are this little bit of rope that can sustain our world.

Post written by Adjoke Therese Babalola, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Côte d’Ivoire

My Life in a Year

It all started with a dream to study in USA. A dream to live a student life in the states. CCI has helped me to make this dream true. Started my journey in June 2014 which changed my whole life, my perception towards life and made me emotional too. LOL
I remember myself as a big guy with low confidence and trying to make new friends. Trying to adjust with new people and being over-friendly which led to a lot of misinterpretations about me among people. The only women who was with me as true mentor, a true guardian was Kelly Forbes. ‘’You don’t have to be fake and over-friendly to make friends” her words that changed me. She’s the best gift that USimg_8104A has given me. I can’t forget her early morning messages when I was in Las Vegas “Akhlaq don’t spend all of your money’’ I bet no other coordinator would have been as concerned as she was with me. She pushed me far away from my self-bound limits to be independent and to be responsible. If I really want to describe her in one word she was mother and I’m fortunate to have her in my life as coordinator.

Jaclyn Ruybalid Krueger! The enthusiast coordinator whenever I saw her she was there with that beautiful smile. She always had a positive energy which reflects on her face that can change everyone’s day.

 

In my experimg_8102ience I’ve found many common skills with each CCI participants and I tried to upgrade myself to be better than before. I’ve learned so many things from these that I can’t mention them. I never thought I would be surrounded by so many pearls from different countries and getting to know them. Friends from CCI is the best thing one can have. Experiencing friendship other than CCI was bonus for me as I got to know people from Afghanistan, Thailand, Korea, and Ethiopia……. Omg! The list is never ending. In short I’ve friends from all over the world.

Volunteering at events and enjoying those events with free food, can’t describe that happiness.


These events taught me to serve for community. I never thought I would complete my volunteering hours without Luiza Arnaud and Bassem Alfy these guys always pushed me for volunteering. Talking with Khaled Soltanto (Habibi) always motivated me to get something I liked. My roommates were typically awesome hahahaha! Each of those guys have different perception for the same common thing. Whether its 12am or 1am and I wanted to go to DC Harold was always ready. Gymming with Andre (Brazilian) and Sifiso (South African) was an amazing experience and I can say I had international trainers. Dzidepo Kofi this Ghanaian guy taught me to play soccer and party hard! How could I forget the beauties of CCI Lekagugu, Joannita, Sandra, Gamze, and Luiza I miss you girls.
img_8105 Praveen and Nabila will have a great importance in my life I’ve learned a lot from you guys. Hope to see you soon.

On my return my friends asked what did you do in states? And what did you brought along with you from states? To which I replied “I lived my life in a year and I brought a promise to see those face again who made my life worth living there”

img_8106

Post written by Akhlaq Khan, CCI participant at NOVA, 2015-2016, India

Why should I volunteer?

group-scout-leader-nomal-gb-pakistan
A group photo with Shaheen Scout. July 2014

I belong to a country where community is defined as the religious group with whom I share my beliefs and religious practices. In my community we have a structure of serving community under a volunteer setup. For example, if we have doctors, occasionally they provide services frees of cost or with minimal charges, if someone is a teacher, he/she will be voluntarily serving in any community institution, likewise all the people in the community have a kind of volunteer responsibility which is kind of mandatory to serve and I believe that, it is the back bone of my community development.

with-shaheen-scout-nomal-gb-pakistan
Group Scout Leader, Village Nomal, GB, Pakistan

Generally we think like what can we do, how can I serve my community, how can I be part of a worthy cause? Being a young student, having no professional experience, guess what could I do for my community? Believe me; I had much more opportunities to serve my community than any professional person because, volunteer services need time commitment and dedication. Since childhood I remained associated with different organizations with different responsibilities like, Group Scout Leader, Finance Secretary with a welfare Organization, As a Teacher in religious institution, Member of wheel chair committee, Administrator of JDC an Institution and member of Aga Khan Economic Planning local Board Gilgit.

In my educational career, I always remained an average student but today I am a participant of Community College Initiative program among 40 students of Pakistan. Till now it is one of the highest achievements in my career and this would never have happened without the skills I have gained from volunteer services.

Although with busy life it is difficult to manage time, but if you spare a short span of time for volunteering, you may have a greater impact on your personal life, professional life and your community. It is the best way to gain experience, enhancing interpersonal skills; it gives you a sense of accomplishment, an opportunity to interact with diverse group of people, an opportunity for selection of right career path and much more…

To begin with, Volunteering is a great opportunity to gain interpersonal skills like, being a good listener, a good communicator, responsiveness, promoting togetherness and settling disputes etc.

9-11-day-of-service_csanders-5
9-11 Day of Service, photo by Caitlin Sanders, SCA

Secondly, volunteering is a platform where we can learn new things through participating in different events. While serving as volunteer we get involve in social, technical, funny and academic activities. Participation in event like Park cleaning, fund raising campaign and art exhibitions gave me an insight about these fields, which I could never learn in my routine classes.

Next, working for long hours, studying, assignments and other activities sometime makes us stressful. We can find such volunteer activities related to our own interest where we can have fun and enjoy, which may have a positive impact on our health.

Subsequently, I have handled a lot of tasks back in my own country but cleaning a pond in a park and controlling traffic in an event was something new and  interesting for me. Handling task smoothly in timely manners make us responsible and it gives us confidence to do something more.

Afterwards, networking is one of the most essential requirements for entrepreneurship minded people and nowadays finding a better job is all about networking. Volunteering lets you expand your relationships with other businesses and people with similar interests which can help you in finding better jobs.

Another main thing, volunteering is an opportunity to make choices from different professional fields, while participating in different events; you can select an interesting career field. Being student of economics I was planning to work in banking sector but my volunteer association with Aga Khan Economic planning board inspired me to think about entrepreneurship. During my services more than 10 families successfully initiated their own businesses which gave me a motivation to think beyond what I was imagining about my career and these were the experiences which linked me with such a wonderful international exchange program like the CCI Program, which is like a full package of experiential learning, theoretical studies, motivation and exposure visits.

Yet another important aspect of volunteering is meeting with diverse groups of people, for me it is a hobby; I enjoy participating in volunteer services because I love meeting new people and learning new things every day.

“Diversity is not a burden to be endured, but an opportunity”, HH Aga Khan”.

Volunteering is the best way to find people from different social backgrounds, cultures, food, experiences and ideas and only through mutual understanding we can bring peace in the world.

Finally, happiness and satisfaction cannot be purchased no matter how rich you are. The feelings cannot be compared to something else which we get after supporting a needy person.

In the end, I will conclude my writing with a beautiful quote by “Bob Marley,

“Live for your-self, you live in vain. Live for others, you will live again”.

Therefore I will recommend everyone to be a part of this worthy cause, which can help you being a successful person, helping you in living a happy, healthy and a meaningful life.

Post written by Naik Alam, CCI participant at NOVA, 2016-2017, Pakistan