Straight Outta San Diego Competition was hosted by The Center for Changemaking and Social Innovation co-sponsored by Georgian college student association in order to select a winner who would receive the chance to go to San Diego to attend the Ashoka U Exchange.
The Ashoka U Exchange is a 3-day learning lab, testing ground, space for celebrating innovation, and spark for the collaboration of 700 of educators, students, and other higher education professionals from across the world.
The competition begged a simple question to be answered by the participants- “Why your flavour of changemaking should go to San Diego?”
There were many unique and quite interesting views brought by people but the one that got quite everybody’s attention was the essay written by Rebecca.
She highlights how many Changemakers are inspired by their teachers including herself and how she joined clubs and raised money for various charitable organizations from any early age. At 19 she went to college to become a social service worker and did get a job as one but seeing the red-tapism and gaps in the services she decided to quit and go to Georgina Island First Nation and start volunteering for the United Church and landed a job there as a receptionist. Working at this job gave her a close and personal insight in the various obstacles faced by aboriginal people. Being a changemaker does not involve waiting for change to happen around you but making it happen and that’s what Rebecca tried to do as she used all the resources available to her to get these issues resolved. Still wanting to do more she learned more about the Climate Change and how each and every person is responsible for climate change. She changed how First Nations disposed their garbage and various other programs helping people with their clothing and shelter needs which are still in affect even after she left her position 4 years ago. She then got involved in Spirit walk in remembering the sisters, mothers and daughters who were murdered or went missing. She also participated in the truth and reconciliation walk which shines a light on the past governments treatment of aboriginal people. Rebecca has always acknowledged how lucky she has been to have the tools and education and has always used them to make change happen around her for people that need it.
A Conversation about Straight Outta San Diego and growing changemaking at Georgian College –
Q- How did you get to know about the Straight Outta San Diego competition?
I took social entrepreneurship course and my professor Kelly Duggan made me aware about the program and also encouraged me to participate in it. She motivated me to spread my changemaking, she is a great mentor and has helped me a lot.
Q- How was your experience at Ashoka U Exchange?
This experience was inspiring as I learned from the speakers who were present there belonging to various social enterprises. The site visits to organizations like City Heights Coffee house, the Church Mission and Christ Ministry Centre were my most memorable part of the trip.
The site visit that impacted me the most was the Church Mission, Christ Ministry Centre Clinic and Shelter. This organization is run by a Pastor Bill Jenkins and 2 doctors, Ellen Beck and Mary Bakers. It is also staffed with volunteers nursing students and is an immigrant welcoming centre, shelter, health unit and food bank. These volunteers are very selfless and love what they do. Theytake an ultrapreneur approach which is very holistic; humanistic in nature. The advice they give to us student Changemakers is to find your passion, let go of fear, and start small for funding. They said it is so important to build those trust bridges, listen to the people who use your service and build that long term trust.
Q- Was there any Changemaking story that really stood out for you?
At the conference I attended a session on Stories of Changemakers: Making Foreign Less Foreign this I found was very enlightening. I learned about how globally Changemakers are starting out and how they are making their impact. They spoke about mapping the system using a system thinking approach. This is strategy for gaining insights into complex social issues. Understanding that wicked problems are complex and not just linear. They presented a story from India called “the Pad Man” about a man who made pads for women who could not afford them. He truly is a purpose driven person and an agent for change. This man approached a very taboo subject in India and made a solution tackling the problem. He was ridiculed by his family and community, but he still persevered. Showing these stories is important as it shows the struggles and challenges a social entrepreneur has to face.
The ‘pad man’ didn’t not give up till he had a minimal viable product that he could market to solve the problem. These stories inspired me to take a leap into action.
I next went to City Heights Coffee House, a social enterprise that provides life skills to youth. The coffee is also a social gathering place and their mission is to provide a place that is radically inclusive. They believe in the scared worth of every human being and put much emphasis on having community’s support and volunteering to get the bigger picture. The Organization found that there was a need for a community space for different ethnic groups to come together and the need for youth to get much needed skills to be employable. They used their passion for coffee and realized coffee creates conversation.
Being a changemaker, I understand that making social impact requires one to take action. The conference was a learning journey and I have gained so much intrinsically. I willsharethis experiencewith other students and continue being an agent for change.
Q- Why do you think you are a Changemaker?
I was always told since I was a child “you can’t change the world”. I still persevered and continued to advocate on behalf of others. I volunteer in every community I have lived in and at the college. I joined Enactus to make social, environmental, and economic change. I realized that I can change the world a little bit at a time.
Q- What would be your advice be for other Changemakers?
My advice to other Changemakers is to be passionate, never give up, don’t accept the status quo and follow your heart.
Written by Indresh Singh, Co-op student, Centre for Changemaking & Social Innovation I am a second year (Business administration) student at Georgian College. I grew up in (Chandigarh, North of India). My favorite part of living in Canada so far has been the people who are really supportive and inclusive.