From the quiet murmur of conversations with his colleagues to the enthusiastic roar of a wrestling crowd, Jason Xiao has heard it all in his time with the Brock University Volunteer Association (BUVA).
Founded in September 2019 as an initiative leading up to the 2021 Canada Games, BUVA is a group of trained Brock students committed to improving the local community by volunteering for at least 20 hours each year.
After seeing the association advertised at a booth during Brock’s clubs week in September, Xiao, a Business Administration student and aspiring police officer from Guangzhou, China, knew the diverse training and available opportunities could help open new doors while also allowing him to follow in the footsteps of other volunteers in his family.
“My father has always instilled in me a responsibility to give back to the community I am in,” Xiao said. “And I now know a lot more about how other people think and get involved. Being part of BUVA is not just helpful for the community, it also helps your career in the future.”
To put his skills to the test, the 21 year old volunteered at several events throughout the winter, including the Canadian Wrestling Trials from Dec. 5 to 7 in Niagara Falls.
“It was my first time doing something like that,” he said. “I was in a group taking charge of access control. We checked people’s accreditations, which was fun and very helpful for the security career I want to do.”
Though the association’s volunteer initiatives are closely aligned with the upcoming Canada Games, opportunities span well beyond sporting events to encompass issues affecting populations throughout Niagara and around the world.
To prepare members to effectively take on those challenges and represent the University, BUVA meets once a month to engage guest speakers on various topics.
On Friday, Feb. 28, the group heard from Brock graduate and Chief of Staff to the Mayor of St. Catharines Julie Rorison (BA ’10) on the topic of professional communication, which she said was a key component of the volunteer experience.
“Volunteering can present all kinds of opportunities to learn something different, develop your skills, build your network and communicate in all kinds of settings,” she said. “Volunteer opportunities can also evolve into paid positions, so honing your professional communication skills is critical to success in any field.”
After hearing Rorison’s presentation, Xiao reflected that he had already used many of the skills she had talked about during some busier moments at the wrestling trials.
“Sometimes we had to speak to athletes after they lost their matches, even when they were upset,” he said. “Luckily, BUVA provided us with training about customer service and how to exercise self-control while working with people who might be emotional.”
Though she was at the meeting to present, Rorison said Xiao and the rest of the BUVA members provided inspiration for her as well.
“It’s a pleasure to connect with such an engaged group of students who are passionate about Niagara,” she said. “Brock University is one of the greatest assets to the Niagara region. Having students get involved in the community is a huge opportunity to leverage their knowledge and talent and create opportunities for them to continue to build their lives and careers here. It is inspiring to meet such an awesome group of people who care about our community enough to share their time.”
With BUVA’s inaugural year nearing its end, Xiao is already looking forward to the opportunities the association will offer him next year, and he hopes more students will embrace the chance to join him and become more involved.
“I would strongly recommend BUVA to students who want to see more of the region, meet people and help those in need,” he said. “I love Niagara, and I think it’s important for me and other Brock students to be thankful for what we have and to always do our best and give back.”
To learn more about BUVA, visit the association’s website.