Every semester, Embark takes time to acknowledge and celebrate our superstar volunteers. While we host semesterly volunteer socials, we have also created the Volunteer of the Semester award to recognize one or two volunteers that have gone above and beyond the scope of their role. This semester, we’ve given the award to Angela Christina Lara. Here is a quick interview about her experience as an Embark volunteer.
What are you studying at SFU?
– I am doing my Ph.D. in the Resource and Environmental Management Program (REM/Faculty of Environment). I am studying the influences of ecosystems on the success of resettled rural households, under the gender perspective. The resettled households I am approaching are from rural areas, displaced by water infrastructures. They usually experience impoverishment disregarding the efforts employed to mitigate it, with burdens affecting more women than men. Because hydropower is a low-carbon emission energy source, we expect an increase in numbers of water infrastructure and, consequently, of resettlement, worldwide. I aim to contribute to more sustainable and fair resettlement processes.
When did you join as a volunteer at Embark and what have you done here?
– I joined Embark in the Summer 2018 term, helping the learning garden team to set up the Learning Garden unit at the Surrey campus. During the Fall term, I joined the Learning Garden, the Food Rescue, and the Blog Writer Programs. The Learning Garden brought me the “hands-on” and teamwork I miss so much since by now my thesis work has been basically theoretical. Under Pablo’s guidance, the peers worked together on the beds, preparing the soil, harvesting, planning for the new season, building bed shelters. I come from a tropical country (Brazil) so everything was pretty new and exciting to me. The Food Rescue introduced me to so many new people every week, offering edible food and having happy and rich conversations about our food system and how to contribute. Also, I carried stuff up and down around campus hahaha. Teamwork was simply crucial, as well as the support from Sumara and Ruth as coordinators; Food Rescue is definitely about collaboration. The Blog Writer is a defy I put to myself. Having English as a second language and trying to write in the non-academic language, a more personal way, is simply hard. But worth it! Lisa gave me green as a theme to write about. And it has been as fun as it is challenging, a work in process, both the text and myself… I`m so thankful to Lisa for her patience and feedback!
Why were you interested in volunteering at Embark?
– One year ago I joined a Community Kitchen event. Seven people I had never met before came together to cook and eat plant-based food. We used produce from the Learning Garden, which I just used to see through the windows of TASC 1. That evening was the warmest experience I had at SFU so far. It was my first contact with Embark too. I kept that in mind. At that point, I did not have time for volunteering, but when I had, I knew exactly where to head to. That time arrived last summer.
What are the benefits of volunteering at Embark?
– Embark offers a variety of programs that dialogue with each other, a good structure to support them, and it is so respected by the SFU community. We meet minded people eager to contribute to a sustainable community. And that is amazing!
What’s your favorite thing about Embark?
– People! Embark attracts amazing people, both the teamwork and the audience make of Embark`such an amazing organization!
What are your main takeaways from volunteering?
– The main takeaway is that we can contribute to a more sustainable community if and when we get together as a group to reach out to people and invite them to take part in the way most suitable for them. I learned from Embark that communication is key for sustainable communities and there is no such thing as the right way: the diversity of strategies and skills to approach and solve problems is the richness of a community and a social capital for sustainable development. The other takeaway from volunteering is the wish to volunteer again!