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 Annie Nguyen. Here is a quick interview about her experience as an Embark volunteer.
What are you studying at SFU?
I am majoring in Interactive Arts and Technology focusing on graphic and user experience design at SFU.
When did you join as a volunteer at Embark and what have you done here?
I joined Embark in April 2018. I have volunteered for gardening and tabling at Embark.
Why were you interested in volunteering at Embark?
I was interested in volunteering at Embark at first because of the gardening volunteer position. I wanted to learn more about different plants and how to take care of them the right way. That’s what got me into Embark. Then what kept me more interested after that is because they offer a lot of other fun social and environmental opportunities such as food rescue, tabling, and kitchen community, where you can cook vegan meals in a group. It sounds so fun to me. They also keep in touch with their volunteers very frequently to see how their volunteers are doing and also remind them of the opportunities that they are welcome to join in, which I feel like it is an inclusive and transparent environment.
What are the benefits of volunteering at Embark?
The benefits of volunteering at Embark is networking and a lot of opportunities to learn from co-workers. My garden’s supervisor has a lot of experience with gardening and all kind of plants. He is like a live Garden Wikipedia, so the benefit is I can ask him a lot of questions about gardening. He also did some interesting experiments on the vertical gardens. One of his successful experiments is he found a way to prevent the water from wasting away due to watering and keep the ground’s nutrients staying for longer to keep the plants thrive. Besides gardening, I also joined the tabling event with another supervisor, who is very skillful in marketing and reaching out to people. All of these skills in communication, outreach, and gardening might not be learnable in school if it’s not your major, so joining Embark give you the advantage to learn and grow from your co-workers and you have nothing to lose because it’s ‘free’ and fun.
What’s your favourite thing about Embark?
My favourite thing about Embark is that there are always events coming up, so I can help with the little things that not many people have time for. I also like the learning experience and the people here, who are very friendly, enthusiastic, and always seek to learn more.
What are your main takeaways from volunteering?
Volunteering is a valuable learning experience. I can learn more about a new organization and its people. I can also learn some new skills. After volunteering for a while, the experience gave me new insights about myself and my abilities. Also, small action can still make a meaningful impact. Cleaning up yellow leaves and watering weekly may not seem like much but it can be seen like this: cleaning up yellow leaves and watering just enough can contribute to the overall beauty and air quality of the place because the plants are healthy. SFU Surrey does not have a lot of ‘green’ or trees inside its building, so Embark’s garden provides an exciting and unique catch of eyes that give students a short break from the traditional views of the school.