Bringing international experience home

We all bring something home from our travels. Sometimes it’s a great story, other times a sentimental object.

For Zahra Esmail, her overseas experience has brought valuable insight into her current role as Executive Director at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House. While working as an AKFC youth fellow in India, she learned that “development is complex, but when it is locally driven, the projects are local, and all people are valued in the projects they can be impactful.” This principle guides her work to this day.

Although she is not currently working in the global development field, Zahra continues to be involved as an AKFC Development Champion in Vancouver. Members of AKFC’s volunteer speaker bureau, Development Champions like Zahra play an essential role in our efforts to engage and inspire Canadians to be active global citizens.

Apart from being a way she gives back to the community, Zahra says the program has provided her with valuable skills and opportunities – and made her appreciate the global-to-local connections in her career:

“[My current] job involves lots of public speaking, and I appreciate the opportunity to do public speaking as part of this program.  It is also a good opportunity to [connect] my international work with my current work and reflect upon [how much] my global experience shapes my career.  I used to work in a youth shelter in Toronto, and at the time I compartmentalized my international work and the local work.  But this brings both together,” Zahra said.

The Development Champions are a group of dedicated, dynamic volunteers from across Canada who share personal stories about their experiences in international development to inspire Canadians and promote discussion and learning on global issues. Presentations are free and can be tailored to a variety of audiences and venues.

To meet our other Development Champions and learn about how you can invite one to your next event, click here.