Happy International Volunteer Day! In honor of this global holiday, we polled some of our alumni to see what service they are doing in their communities after WorldTeach. We hope that today inspires you to go into your community and help others in any way that you can. We invite you to consider the question – what does community engagement mean to you?
Andrea Khan is an alumnae from our Kenya 1987 program. She volunteers in the Mayor’s Ethnic Enrichment Commission of Kansas City, Kansas City Sister Cities Association, Ecuadorian Association of Kansas City, International Relations Council, Global Ties, and the United Nations Association of Kansas City. We asked a few questions about her volunteer experiences in the US.
What are your general duties while volunteering?
I have several volunteer positions and organizations I am part of. The one that I devote the most time to is the Mayor’s Ethnic Enrichment Commission of Kansas City. I have been the Alt. Commissioner for Kenya for approximately 25 years. As part of the commission, we put on an annual formal Diplomatic Ball as well as the Ethnic Enrichment Festival (one of the biggest ethnic festivals in the country). Throughout the year I represent Kenya in Kansas City doing educational programs. I also serve on the Executive Committee as the Outreach Director. In that position I coordinate all the programs the commissions (over 60 countries are represented) participate in throughout the year. We speak at many schools and civic organizations. We work with municipalities on being inclusive. We organize and participate in many cultural festivals and other activities.
Why do you volunteer?
For my children. For my community. Because it is the right thing to do. I know that service is imperative of all of us. To be part of a community, we must each do our part in support of the community. I believe it is our moral obligation to care for each other — especially those who are facing difficulties. Service is an integral part of my spiritual beliefs. Through service we become the best each of us can become.
What does community engagement mean to you?
Community engagement means inclusivity. We do not have a functional community if all parts of our community are not integrated and have opportunities to be fully engaged and valued. Community engagement means being part of the wider community and being shoulder to shoulder with a diversity of community members working toward the greater good of an inclusive community for future generations.