Vibby Tandon

Vibby T

Bachelor of Arts, Psychology major (Sociology minor), 3rd Year

Course: CSL 100 (Winter 2021) with Instructor Jay Friesen

Who was your community partner and can you describe the project objectives?

Currently, I am working with the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative Society of Edmonton, (CTC). CTC is a non-profit organization that aims to increase the economy of Chinatown by advertising its small businesses and investing in the growth of the community through the government’s support. It is important to note that Edmonton’s Chinatown encompasses the area between Jasper and 107A avenues between 95th and 101st streets, so it is at the heart of homeless shelters, social agencies, and struggling areas of the city. However, it is only a few blocks from the Ice District, a new development worth more than 2 billion dollars. It is crucial to recognize that while one of the city’s most invested areas is near one of the city’s most neglected ones. Through promoting redevelopment, increasing tourism, preventing homelessness, and instilling pride and consumer confidence in Chinatown, CTC aims to revitalize Chinatown’s forgotten community and empower its growth.

What was your biggest takeaway from your CSL placement?

During my work with CTC, I have had the chance to connect with small business owners in Chinatown to formulate advertising posts for social media platforms. I have also learned a lot about the several Asian cultures that make up the community as a whole. In this process, I have gotten to learn their stories, put a face to the small businesses that are neglected too often, learn why their work is important to them, and foster genuine relationships with members of the Chinatown community. At the end of the day, people just want to be heard and respected, and the members of Chinatown are no different. 

How can you apply any newly gained knowledge/skills to your future endeavours (courses/employment/volunteering)?

Working with CTC has taught me how to approach situations with empathy and understanding, and to first learn why the task at hand is important in the first place. Respecting the cultures, traditions, and people that you work with or for is the biggest lesson I have learned from my placement. By fostering a relationship with who you are working with and understanding why the work taking place is important to them, you are able to invest your time and effort in a meaningful way that not only leaves you with more knowledge than you started out with but actually benefits the work that you are doing. I have learned how important it is to make an active effort to understand the cultural significance of the community you are working with, and how respecting their traditions fosters the growth of an inclusive environment for all.

What are some of the ways that COVID-19 has affected your community partner or your placement? 

Due to the current pandemic, my work is conducted through a virtual format. This has been tough because face-to-face interaction is so important for organizations like CTC since going out into the community itself provides you with the most learning experience. However, my placement coordinators have been super accommodating and helpful with the current situation and have tried their hardest to make my volunteer experience just as exciting as it would be if COVID-19 was not affecting us. It is hard to create relationships with members of the community when you cannot go out to physically interact with them. But I feel like this situation is just a giant reminder of how we all need to stick together as a community to empower and encourage one another’s growth, as COVID-19 has shown us that you never know when everything might change.