“Every semester, we would gather for training sessions, and I would have to speak in front of 50 to 60 mentors,” she says. “At first it was nerve-wracking, but I slowly got used to it, and now it’s much easier for me to speak in front of others.”
As a Student Assistant, Myat uses her experience as an international student from Myanmar to guide new students through their first steps at Douglas.
“Most international students really want to get involved with on-campus activities. Everything is new and exciting,” she says. “It’s nice to be able to help students, as well as run fun networking events for them.”
These are leadership skills Myat will bring to her career in Child and Youth Care. She explains that working with young adults, like her international student mentees, has furthered her practical experience in communicating with youth transitioning to adulthood.
Advocating on campus
Earlier this year, Myat also became the Women Students’ Representative for the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU). In this role, she organizes initiatives through the Women Students’ Collective and advocates for its members.
“I run monthly themed tea parties within the Women Students’ Collective to build a sense of community,” she says. “A recent theme was elimination of violence against women, where we made self-protection keychains and went through a self-defense workshop.”
Although her volunteer positions are quite different, Myat has found ways to bridge the gap between the two. She routinely shares information about the DSU with her international student mentees, and in turn, she uses her position with the DSU to reach out to new international students about resources and opportunities available to them.
“When I meet new international students, especially women of colour, they’re very willing to learn more about culture here in Canada while sharing and celebrating their own. I’m able to refer to the knowledge and resources I’ve gathered as a women’s representative and bring it back to these students.”
Looking to the future
After Myat graduates, she plans on becoming a child and youth worker and advocating for youth with immigrant backgrounds. She says she’s confident that the skills she has learned through her degree, as well as being a mentor and women’s representative, have provided her with the tools she needs to reach her career goals.
“When I apply for jobs, I can tell employers I have experience working with 10 international students each semester. That process of connection with students is very similar to connecting with youth in my field,” she says.
For Myat, getting involved on campus has become more than just a volunteer experience, and it’s something she’d recommend to anyone at Douglas – especially her fellow international students.
“I would encourage anyone to volunteer. Get out there and be involved, because that’s what opens you up to different opportunities and interests that you might not have otherwise discovered.”