UnionAID

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#TheBigShoutOut: Shannan Wong

"I feel grateful and privileged to have had the opportunity to volunteer as a mentor with the UnionAID Young Leaders Programmes, which I strongly believe resource these community activists to step back confidently into their contextual spaces carrying the learning and support of those they have interacted with in Aotearoa.”

What motivated you to volunteer with UnionAID?

 

After experiencing a Myanmar Young Leaders Programme graduation, a chance to mentor a young leader felt like a precious opportunity that found its way to me. Connecting to youth advocates who have journeyed through experiences I can’t even imagine, and having them gift their mātauranga so selflessly encouraged me to become a better mentor and youth worker. 

I had the opportunity to mentor a young leader from Myanmar back in 2019, she was already supporting so many women and children in a displacement camp and came to Aotearoa to research and development a youth development framework. We collaborated on the best way I could mentor her and found that offering her space to clarify her contextual and specialised knowledge, meant a more efficient processing of her interviews. We spent time to connect and acknowledge our differences, this certainly helped the reframing of our local youth development practitioners into her nuanced context. The final presentation she shared really threaded through our conversations with a strong framing of her cultural context.

How has volunteering contributed to your personal or professional development?

 

I have been a volunteer for various spaces for over 20 years, and am committed to continue serving my communities and network with the hope that in my lifetime young diverse people will be able to feel safe and confident to step in their rightful space, positions of power.

I feel grateful and privileged to have had the opportunity to volunteer as a mentor with these programmes which I strongly believe resource these community activists to step back confidently into their contextual spaces carrying the learning and support of those they have interacted with in Aotearoa.

Being in their honest, courageous and hard working presence as well as learning from their personal journeys and activism has encouraged me to strengthen my identity and the space I hold in Aotearoa as a youth worker of Chinese ancestry. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet and connect to the Mindanao Young Leaders and briefly, the Indonesian Young Leaders. Hearing how so many of these young leaders are contributing positively on behalf of their indigenous communities has really encouraged me and resourced me with ideas on how to work alongside our diverse communities and enhance their representation in multiple spaces of power.

UnionAID supports democratic, worker-led organisations that help empower working people to improve their work and livelihoods through collective action.

Find out more about what we do and how to get involved here or become a Kiwi Solidarity Member now.

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