As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.
Name: Eunbyul Park
Current role in the sector: Coordinator at the Centre for Immigration Policy Evaluation (CIPE) and the Communication at Concordia University and Mobilization Officer at the Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia (TRAC) Union.
Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: Two years.
What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My first job in the sector was a research assistantship at the Centre for Immigration Policy Evaluation (CIPE) at Concordia University. I serve as the coordinator of the Centre, organizing workshops and conferences as well as maintaining communication between the co-directors of CIPE, the university, students, and various social actors who work with refugees and immigrants in research and in practice. At CIPE, we bring together stakeholders and decision-makers alike to discuss the effects that immigration policies have on our communities. As an undergraduate student pursuing a career in policy-making, I was fortunate to witness early on in my academic career the vital contribution of researchers in shaping future immigration policies as well as the importance of policy deliberation from a bottom-up approach to designing coherent, fair, and sustainable policies.
Describe your desk/workspace.
I share an office space at Concordia University with two other Research Assistants at Concordia University who also work in the field of immigration research but for different organizations and projects. We each have our own desk. Mine has a file holder with many folders corresponding to the many different projects I am working on as a Research Assistant, a student and a union representative. These folders are a manifestation of the different roles and tasks I undertake as a student worker. It can be very difficult juggling them all, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?
As part of the curriculum at the School of Community and Public Affairs, I read many books on community organizating. Two of the most influential ones for me were We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire and Activism and Social Change: Lessons for Community and Local Organizing by Eric Shragge who used to be the Principal of the School of Community and Public Affairs. Both of these books were written by educators who strongly believed in the importance of pedagogy, more specifically grassroots pedagogy, in social change. As a student and research assistant, this strengthened by resolve to engage in and develop a space of participative learning and dialogue around social issues.
What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
The sector needs to think about how it encourages the young decision-makers of tomorrow to address the critical issues facing them today through research and open dialogue. It needs to create an inclusive space for dialogue between those directly affected by the issues, their communities, and the political decision-makers. Whether in a labour union, a research centre or a community organization, democratic deliberation on the socio-political issues that affect us is crucial. It brings out the voices of those who are often underrepresented in the public sphere and empowers those voices to enact real change. This requires consistent, transparent, and proactive communication as well as an innovative and engaging way of using communication technology.
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