These stories are from Bishop’s Alumni Magazine, edition No. 58 Fall 2022. Share your news for the next issue of the Alumni Magazine before July 7th!
Antoun Shahin ‘22 has long been a prominent figure in the Bishop’s community, most recently being selected as Valedictorian for the class of 2022. Whether working at the IT Help Desk, cheering on Gaiters at sporting events, or welcoming refugee students to Canada, he was a friendly face to many on campus. His penchant for volunteering thus comes as no surprise to those who know him and his careful attention to the needs of others.
At Bishop’s, Antoun’s experience as a refugee student from Syria spurred him to join World University Service of Canada (WUSC), the organization that brought him to Canada in collaboration with Bishop’s. Antoun was motivated to give others the same supportive welcome he had experienced from WUSC. Having benefitted from this service himself, he gave valuable insight into areas where the group could improve. For instance, his experience being unable to participate in conversation—or even understand what was being said—on the ride from the airport into Sherbrooke helped WUSC realize a gap in their support network. The group now ensures that refugees are greeted at the airport by someone who speaks their language and can assuage their immediate concerns.
But Antoun’s volunteerism began long before his arrival in Canada. Growing up, he watched his brother gain confidence and skills through the boy scouts and decided to enroll as well. Antoun eventually rose in the ranks and became a scout leader, invested in helping children develop the same responsibility, independence, respect for all, and confidence that he did as a scout.
Now, working at Deloitte in Montreal, Antoun continues to participate in volunteer and fundraising activities. For instance, he recently participated in a company-wide bicycle tour of Montreal to raise funds for a children’s hospital in the city. He notes of this experience how volunteering acts as an equalizer, stating, “One of the people that was biking with me is a partner in the company, and I’m just starting out, so there are seven to nine positions between us and over ten years of experience. But that day, we were wearing the same athletic clothes, hanging around, eating together, working, and volunteering together. There is no one above anyone else when you volunteer.”
This, Antoun notes, is one of the many benefits of volunteerism. Through such involvement, Antoun has built a network; he finds it necessary to get involved in his community despite the inherent fear of starting something new or feeling awkward in an unfamiliar group, because that is “how the puzzle pieces come together.” This further led him to get involved with the Bishop’s Alumni Association, where he aims to provide the same support he got to other students.
In addition to gaining a network, volunteerism bolstered Antoun’s communication and presenting skills, leadership capacities, empathy, and most importantly, his ability to give without limits. It’s a selfless tradeoff: “Sometimes you donate the $25 you would have spent on coffee that month, because it could probably make a make a difference to someone’s life,” he says.
To Antoun, volunteering isn’t so much about what you give, but the fact that you are giving. To be a volunteer is to leverage your resources, time, or skills for the benefit of others. Antoun even notes rooting for the Gaiters in at-home games as a form of volunteerism: your support and positive cheers can help the players achieve success. With such an open-ended view on helping others, we should all be able to find an area wherein to freely offer our efforts and become volunteers ourselves.
Click here to read the full Alumni Magazine from Fall 2022.