Diving head first into EWB

My First 72 Hours

Fifty young leaders, two days of training, and one lunch reception with a dozen MPs. All in week one!

My name is Mohit Bagri and I’m a student at the Munk School of Global Affairs. I’m in my first year and this year, I took on a summer internship with EWB’s Policy and Advocacy Team.

After 48 hours of working with EWB, I was thrilled to have the chance to travel to Ottawa for this year’s Spring Leadership Retreat and Day of Action. The retreat brought together chapter Presidents and advocacy campaigners from across the country for skills-building workshops and a chance to connect with EWB’s national student network.

I knew I needed to make the most of this opportunity if I wanted to accelerate my orientation into EWB.

I approached this weekend with the aim to learn as much as I could about EWB’s approach to leadership development and advocacy and meet many of the young leaders that make up this organization. I learned a lot at the retreat, but let me start it off with this: EWB is made up of some truly magnificent and intelligent people. This weekend was so jam-packed with information on everything from systems-mapping to canvassing, building teams to digital communications, that at times I was scrambling to keep up – but EWB’s community members never missed a beat! It goes to show that EWB’s community is made up of a strong group of individuals who are ready for any kind of challenge.

Learning by Doing

Throughout the weekend, chapter Presidents worked on team-building, fundraising, and strategic planning, and had a chance to share best practices and learn from their peers in other chapters. These workshops provided them with the necessary tools and skills to be the best leaders they can be for their chapter and community. EWB’s approach to training is one that is totally hands-on and involves collaboration from each President. This allows each President to engage in and practice new skills, and to take best practices and new ideas back to their chapters and communities.

Advocacy campaigners were given an advance look at EWB’s next campaign, had a chance to learn about campaign strategy, communications and tactics, and then went out to practice canvassing in the streets of Ottawa.  I used my own experiences from door-knocking and sales to help them refine their pitches and approach. This group of people definitely learn fast and aren’t afraid to take risks and try something new, so I have no doubt they will be great champions for the upcoming advocacy campaign!

Personal Highlights

This weekend had so many great moments: learning how to systems map Official Development Assistance, practicing canvassing and pitching, joining a community-led discussion on climate change. For me, it showed the kind of commitment the EWB community has to each other and to making positive change at home and around the world. Throughout the weekend it was clear that everyone there wants to make a change for the better and they were willing to learn and absorb as much knowledge as they could to make that happen. The climate change discussion showed me how far advanced this community’s level of thinking is. Speaking for myself, I didn’t know even half of the things they were discussing when I was in my undergrad!

Ultimately, this retreat and Day of Action provided a great opportunity for young leaders to connect, learn new skills, and reflect on how they can make a positive change in their communities and the world. I find lots of people talk about making the world a better place without following up, but over this weekend I saw the faces of people who are looking to change the world for the better and who are taking action! If these are the leaders of our future then our future looks bright.

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