My Volunteering Experience in ‘Special Care’ Project

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As strongly noted on the University of Minnesota’s website, the university’s advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion is a part of its fundamental mission, all of which are integral to the achievement of academic excellence. My strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, line up with this goal and can be demonstrated by my past experiences. As a Muslim Arab woman in the scientific field, I have witnessed how the academic environment can be somewhat unwelcoming, unfair and biased because of not fitting into a particular gender scheme. I am highly devoted to making a difference, which can ensure that equal chances are given to everyone to excel academically.

In the summer vacation of 2016, I’ve participated in a volunteering experience abroad for a month as an exchange participant in Suzhou, China through AIESEC XJTLU, for the aim of volunteering for a project called ‘Special Care’, and to become a global citizen. During the course of this project, I was able to communicate and work in a team of diverse cultural backgrounds to raise awareness for Autism through various public campaigns. Following the completion of my volunteer experience, I’ve decided to stay for another month traveling alone all over China and staying in hostels, during which I’ve met multiple people and experienced remarkable cultural diplomacy. This cultural exchange has greatly impacted me and has led me to develop strong intercultural competence, enabling me to adapt and perform effectively within and across cultural contexts.

My volunteering experience further continued when I decided to join AIESEC in Ain Shams University initially as a member, and later as a team leader of five members, managing a project called ‘Empower’, for the main aim of tackling UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5; Gender Equality, and 10; Reducing Inequalities. For 6 months, my core responsibilities were contacting various Egyptian human rights and women’s rights NGOs, for the recruitment of foreign interns to participate in a volunteer internship at such NGOs, most of which mainly address sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and reducing the gender enrollment gap at all levels of education – including improving access for girls to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. I strongly believe empowering women and integrating them as active participants in the economy is essential to promoting economic growth in Egypt, as Egypt ranks low in gender equity compared to other countries worldwide.

My most recent volunteer experience was participating as an organizer in an event arranged by AIESEC in Egypt, the Egyptian UNDP, and the Egyptian Ministry of Youth for World Youth Day in August 2018, managing 50+ participants from all parts of Egypt, who have been shaped by different values, beliefs, and experiences, to help them come together and create social media campaigns, tackling multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I know for a fact that promoting diversity goes well beyond improving gender equality, and must include enabling opportunities for underrepresented minority students. University of Minnesota’s Equity and Diversity Certificate program is designed to support and encourage students, faculty, and staff members to be part of a globally inclusive society, and to integrate equity and diversity into the work and daily lives of each member. Through this program, I could contribute to diversity by participating in workshops, such as the ‘Understanding and Advancing Gender Equity’ workshop, to discuss women equity and share ideas on how to advance it, or the ‘My Role in Equity & Diversity Work’ workshop, to achieve equity in all parts of the institution, or ‘Addressing Implicit Bias and Microaggressions’ workshop to eliminate microaggressions caused by unexamined bias, or the ‘Race, Racism, and Privilege’ workshop to address and understand racial inequities.

As an underrepresented Muslim Arab woman, these programs present valuable opportunities for me to express myself and feel included, and as a member of the student body, I would build on my previous experiences to take an active leadership role in fostering diversity at UMN. It would be a privilege to be an active member of a community that encourages diversity, as well as, academic excellence by joining the University of Minnesota’s graduate student body.

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My Volunteering Experience in ‘Special Care’ Project. (2021, Sep 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/my-volunteering-experience-in-special-care-project/

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