Learning to be a Leader in Life and Service with CVA

By Wasim Syed, student facilitator for CVA groups at Eva Rothwell Afterschool program and Welcome Inn's LAF Afterschool Club

I could not have imagined I would grow to such an extent as a person when I began this journey of mine with CVA over a year ago. I’ve not only become a leader, but am able to influence and inspire others. I’ve enhanced my interpersonal skills, increased my network, and identified ways to attain more fulfillment in life. I have grown with CVA through two ways: through reflections at our Facilitator Training meetings, and through service at Eva Rothwell Community Centre. Facilitator Training meetings are an avenue through which CVA facilitators like myself can grow wholistically, with the opportunity to share ideas and experiences to become a better leader. I participate in insightful and in-depth conversations about life, compassion, egoism, mindful attitudes, active listening, consensus, conflict resolution, helping vs. service, being authentic, etc. Through all these reflection activities, I am gaining a deeper understanding of myself and have started living more authentically, being true to myself. I am experiencing the importance of reflecting on my whole life, what I am doing in life and why I am doing it. As such, I was able to confirm and reinforce the career path I have chosen for myself: medicine. I’ve learned to live in the present moment and to give my full attention to whatever is in front of me. I am learning to always be humble, to have high self-esteem with a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody and anybody. I’ve started living for others, and go to sleep feeling more satisfied with the use of my leisure time.

Wasim (left) with students volunteering every Friday, building relationships with children at Eva Rothwell Afterschool program

Every individual has an innate quality of being a leader. Leaders have the ability to influence and empower others. Leaders work by not only knowing and showing the right way, but by taking the first steps towards what is right. However, we cannot guide someone beyond a point at which we have not reached ourselves. Qualities and skills have to be fine-tuned, and perspectives need to be gained. Seeking the leader within you becomes an act of seeking your inner true self, your inner strengths, and living that out.

Applying the same principals to service helps me understand my volunteering experience with the Community Centre and its relation to the Hamilton community. I’ve begun to understand that I am not just a leader to myself and to my volunteer group, but also to the children I serve. By being a positive role model, by providing support, by helping the young make the right choices, and by helping them overcome obstacles in school, we can empower them in a positive life direction. Consequently, the Hamilton community as a whole will be strengthened. Problems can only be fixed once you address the root of the problem. I believe that by helping those young children, who are the future of Hamilton, we can and are essentially making a difference for the whole Hamilton community.

After more than a year as a CVA volunteer and leader, I thought I may have reached the peak of my potential, only to find out that my potential has grown even more. Simply put: I am a growing leader. I am a CVA leader.