A year in Canada: reflections from Simon

By Simon Raut, IVEP Alumnus 2016-2017

It was always my dream to land in North America. But a dream is only a dream until and unless it turns into reality.

After I finished my Bachelor of Science in Physics, I joined Master of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology. When I finished my two years of study, I started teaching in a school. In 2015, I saw an advertisement of MCC Nepal in a website regarding the opportunity for Nepalese young adults to achieve international experience. Even though, I had no any expectation to be selected for the program, I sent my application to MCC Nepal.

Despite my doubts, MCC Nepal called me for an interview and eventually with several screening process, I got selected for the International Volunteer Exchange Program for Canada. That day, I really thanked God and MCC!

The dream was going to be fulfilled very soon, but the thirst of curiosity was not quenched yet because still that time I had not that much knowledge and idea about MCC, Mennonite Community, and the whole program.

I arrived in Canada in September 8, 2016. Our first orientation was in Cross-Country Camp, Kitchener where I got to meet with many friends from different countries of the world. In that orientation I got more information about the IVEP program, MCC and its Mission, and North American Culture. After a week, we separated apart for our respective placement to serve for a year.

1. Picture with my host family

Simon with Host Family (3)

My placement was in Ranch Ehrlo Society, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This non-profit organization serves among youth with differing abilities. In the beginning of my first few days, I was really nervous because I had never dealt with challenging behaviors before. But later on, with the help of my other colleagues and organizational support, I gained skills and tools to work out with young students.  As I got familiar with the class, students, and the goal of the organization, I started to enjoy with my placement. This placement gave me insight into how a group effort can make a big difference in the lives of young adults who have differing abilities. The most satisfying thing was that our small effort for small changes in their life was huge achievement for them.

During the year, I also got connected with COSA and volunteered for them. It was another great experience for me. COSA stands for Circle of Support and Accountability. It is a restorative justice program for men and women who have committed serious sexual offences. It allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration, and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger. I was one of the COSA’s volunteer in Regina city, where I participated every week in a COSA meeting. It was like a family gathering time where the core members as well as other members of the group could receive love, support, and zeal in a friendly environment.

Besides that, I learned many more things with the connection of MCC, host family, and the local church. I got to know more about North American culture and trends, MCC, and how it is working for peace and development in all over the world. I learned that peace is not just the absence of noise or disturbance, but it is an action which emerges out of mutual love, respect, and dignity, acknowledging each other’s ideas and identities. Sometimes conflict arises through our mentally rooted stereotypes about others. Since, one side is never a complete truth, it is better to observe from all sides to avoid assumption or stereotypes which are always blocking factors for peace and development of human society.

Additionally, I found Mennonite Communities are quite generous and kind in North America.

There are many more things to share from my IVEP year 2016-2017 experience, but sometimes words are not enough to explain. Anyhow, it was the best experience in my life. Thank You MCC!

Stay tuned for information on the application processes for the 2018-2019 IVEP and YAMEN programs!

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