#ChangeTheNow experience helped Neh Thakkar bridge cultural diversities

When Neh Thakkar, a second-year Computer Programming and Analysis student, wasn’t able to secure a summer co-op until halfway through his semester despite trying hard to get one, he heard about #ChangeTheNow, a summer co-op recovery alternative supported by Changemaker In Residency Week last July.

“Anything related to innovation or change always attracts me and I feel like it’s definitely worth giving a shot. That’s why I opted for #ChangeTheNow,” says Neh.

A young East Indnian male with dark hair wearing a black jacket and shirt standing outside

Embracing cultural diversity through changemaking

In #ChangeTheNow, he was working toward a local response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #10 – Reduce Inequalities. Their solution explores internationalization and how to bridge cultural diversities.

“I formed a team of people from different origins and worked on implementing activities in schools to create or maintain peer connections so that they can get to know about others’ cultures,” he explains.

“Even though we weren’t able to implement the entire change during the week, the process itself was fantastic to learn from.”

‘Human-centred design’

Neh says the foremost lesson was learning about the changemaking process and pathways, especially since he got to work with the human-centered design thinking process and initiate innovation. He also enjoyed working with people from different background and geographic locations.

Discovering ‘many inspirational stories of ways to succeed in life’

“This made me more familiar with their cultures and rituals. I discovered more resources and was inspired from the many inspirational stories of ways to succeed in life, leaving the barriers behind.”

Students like Neh also had the opportunity to work with several mentors such as Lori Farley, Co-Founder of Intonovus. Lori works in the areas of social innovation and social enterprise.

“I really loved working with Lori. She’s one of the best mentors I could come across. She’s quite efficient with time and planning, and even though it was something new for all of us, she helped us understand everything.”

Neh says changemaking is something he has always enjoyed for a number of important reasons.

“Change is what makes you find your own way and whenever you’re doing something that you like, the workforce is always better,” he explains. “And it’s something which is always proposed to enhance a product or service. All in all, the whole process, starting from analysis through root cause and deploying the change always catches my attraction and I find innovation necessary.”

Neh considers himself a changemaker, especially after completing his #ChangeTheNow co-op. Now he always looks around to find problems and vulnerabilities and tries to work through them with change.

Most recently, he’s been working on celebrating festivals from many different cultures in Barrie, including  Navratri, whose origin is Gujrat, India. Back in August, he celebrated the very first Indian Independence Day with Mayor Lehman, local MPs and MPPs and officials from the Barrie Police.

Explore the 51 solutions created by Neh and our Georgian students during the summer 2021 edition of #ChangeTheNow.

Finding a way forward post-pandemic

Neh was recently elected as the new Vice President of Health and Fitness for the  Barrie Campus Georgian College Students’ Association and he’s looking forward to his new role.

“My core responsibilities are based on collaborating with the Athletic Centre and the Mental Health and Well-being department and help support their events. There will be more in-person activity on campus soon so I have a really good chance to bring some changes to the traditional ways we’ve been doing things since COVID-19.

“Most students don’t know what it was like pre-pandemic, so, I’ll work with them to figure out what they’re thinking and implement changes to hopefully make it seamless for everyone.”

Interested in changemaking?

Check out Georgian’s fall Changemaker in Residency Week taking place Nov. 8 to 12. Register now.

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