Participant Name: Lori Dengler
Department: Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine
Position: Postgraduate Education Coordinator
Leave for Change
Position: Career Development Advisor, Tra Vinh University Teaching and Learning Centre
Country and Place of Assignment: Tra Vinh, Vietnam
Dates: July 23 - August 14, 2016
I have always been a very active volunteer in both my London and Western/Schulich communities, and I became very interested in Leave for Change when Frank Miller was selected to go a couple of years ago. I also attended a presentation by Michele Parkin after her return from Malawi. I kept the program on my radar, but was somewhat intimidated by the position descriptions on the Uniterra website and by the idea that only two Western employees would be selected annually. When I finished my second BA in Adult Education this year and with my HR background, I saw a really good fit with a couple of the available positions and decided to take a chance and apply.
I have a passion for teaching and lifelong learning, and I hope to use that enthusiasm and my educational and volunteer experience to assist my partners at the Teaching and Learning Centre at Tra Vinh University in Vietnam with preparing workshops that will help their them to teach soft skills, like teamwork, conflict resolution, and change management to their teachers and students. I am very excited to make a connection with my higher education colleagues in another country and hope to learn about Vietnamese working and leisure lives and represent Western and Schulich as welcoming global citizens.
My hosts are additionally quite pleased that I work with students at Schulich and are anticipating that the students at their Medical and Pharmacy Division might also benefit from my time there.
I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge of preparing for “flying by the seat of my pants”. I can generally go into a situation well prepared for a given mandate. However, I have learned that in any volunteer or training experience, it is vital to meet your hosts “where they are” and deliver services and content that is timely and relevant. So I am doing my best to equip myself (and my USB key) with the best information I can find that will aid in our mutual endeavours.
Although I have been very excited about this opportunity since I learned I would be going, my pre departure training really helped to cement the idea that I will be immersed in the Southern Vietnamese lifestyle. I relish the chance to be just a bit more than a tourist by, hopefully, having a positive impact as a volunteer and co-worker.
I hope to encourage others to broaden their global experiences and to understand that no matter what their skill set is, they can contribute to making a positive difference in the world.
Much like Michele, who went to Malawi last year, I think the hardest bit will be coming home. Although three weeks might seem like a long time, I know that I will just be exploring the tip of the iceberg and will want always to learn more.