International student among Brock volunteers giving back at Canada Games

The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games has provided Neerav Vaidya a unique opportunity to give back to people from across the country he now calls home.

After moving from Pune, India, to pursue a Master of Business Administration at Brock in 2021, Vaidya immediately began volunteering with the Brock University Volunteer Association (BUVA) to learn more about the Niagara region.

Through BUVA, participants receive ongoing training, connect with other community-minded students and gain access to unique volunteer opportunities throughout the region, including, most recently, at the Canada Games.

With numerous volunteer events under his belt thanks to his time with the association, Vaidya was drawn to the opportunity to lend his expertise as a Fit-Out Lead, helping to oversee the changeover and prepare Canada Games venues for the two-week athletic competition.

“In India, I was regularly involved in event organizing and co-ordination,” he said. “At the Games, I’m doing something that I have lots of experience in and can lend my expertise to.”

Each day, Vaidya has been ensuring that venues have the appropriate infrastructure to host events, including tents, tables, signage, branding and other materials.

While he was familiar with the logistics of event management, Vaidya had to learn about other aspects of Games that were more specific to Canada.

“I had to quickly learn a lot about the sports played in Canada,” he said. “I’ve been specifically interested in lacrosse, which I discovered is Canada’s national summer game, and was one of the sports I worked on.”

In addition to Brock employees, students and community members, many of BUVA’s 49 members have taken on volunteer roles in all areas of the Games. Kristen Smith, Brock’s Manager of Community Experience and Leadership, said they are setting a positive example for others on how to get involved in and give back to their community.

“It is so important for Brock students to get involved with community events to expand their circle beyond campus, to give back to Niagara and to meet other like-minded people in our community,” she said. “The Canada Games has provided a unique opportunity for students to connect with people from across the country and welcome them to Brock and Niagara, and our student volunteers have many diverse skills to contribute.”

Along with learning new things about Canada, Vaidya has also appreciated the chance the Games have provided to connect with others both personally and professionally.

“This opportunity has increased my network and will help me with references and relevant experiences as I start my career,” he said. “I have also met people from places I had never been to or thought of visiting. By communicating with these athletes and coaches, it really makes me want to explore more and go see those people in their home provinces and territories.”

As he continues to plan his career and explores his newfound interest in Canadian travel, Vaidya said his desire to get involved goes beyond making connections.

“I have always tried to make a difference where I can,” he said. “Volunteering is at the core of being human and wanting to help others.”

To learn more about BUVA, visit the association’s ExperienceBU page.

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