There’s a lot to pack for university.
Naturally, there are the requisite school supplies and books. Lots of books. Then there’s the long list of household items, furniture, kitchen staples, and so on, to make life on campus more like home.
And finally, to get the most out of the whole experience, it’s best to bring along a willingness to get involved.
Sardis graduate Alisha Buttar is packing a ton of that when she heads off to UBC next month.
“I want to volunteer,” she says, smiling and sure of herself. And she couldn’t have found a better place to do so. Practically a city unto itself, UBC is bustling with volunteer opportunities for eager and energetic students like Buttar. “My cousins have said there is a club for almost anything.”
She’ll try to settle in first, as she takes on her course load within the Land and Food Systems program. This summer she’s been busy checking and double checking courses, course requirements, and ensuring she’s on the right path. And when she emerges from the university in five years, she will be a registered dietician. From there, Buttar hopes to travel abroad and help set up sustainable farming in underdeveloped countries.
“I want to establish a farm crop for a village that’s sustainable, and then at some time return to Canada,” she says.
There will be plenty of volunteer positions for her to choose from, and UBC holds a biannual volunteer fair that she’s excited to check out.
There are even specific sustainability postings that would fit right in line with where she’s heading, and with where she’s come from.
Buttar received several scholarships when she graduated from Sardis secondary this year. Her volunteerism played a vital role in receiving many of them. She helped run the breakfast program there, through their Be The Change committee, feeding fellow students on a regular basis.
“I noticed it wasn’t very sustainable so I set out and canvassed local food stores and businesses,” she says. Soon, the program was on its way to remaining strong and viable, ensuring more teens would be fed well into the future. Over the last year, there was a solid group of about 13 kids, with others coming and going as needed.
“It’s cool to think I helped build the sustainability of the program so that it will be there after I leave,” she says.
In addition to helping other students get through the day nutritionally, it also helped on a social level. The teens who use the program may not be getting any food at home, or not getting enough for their needs, or simply just forgetting to eat.
“It really does bring down the barriers between us,” she says. “These are people I maybe never would have talked to.”
Buttar is hoping that those barriers continue to break down, more friendships are made, and the program thrives.
But that’s not all she’s been involved in. She has just finished up her time with Interact, a division of the Rotary Club designed for youth ages 12 to 18. The club has a lot of Sardis youth involvement, but they are hoping to expand to include teens from other areas of Chilliwack.
“We’re just a big group that loves volunteering,” Buttar says.
They meet every second Thursday of the month at the Chilliwack YMCA, and are always open to new members. Their next meeting will be on Aug. 27, and Buttar encourages other youth to consider getting involved.
They help out with initiatives throughout the community, and in other parts of the world. They also spearhead their own initiatives, with the Rotary motto of “service above self.”
It’s all put Buttar in good stead as she heads toward her post-secondary experience — with a little extra money in her pocket from scholarships, but also with a strong desire to continue giving everything she’s got.