2015 Junior Fellow-Stephanie Neufeld
What are the greatest challenges you have to face?
Many of the JF placements deal with a lot of ambiguity at the start. In my case working in Toronto, my project outcomes were very vague. This was a challenge for me to stay motivated and figure out how I could make the most of my time, but it was also a great leadership opportunity. I was able to create my own goals and work towards something I felt would be the most impactful.
Tell us more about the advocacy team and how it impacts the community?
This year was an especially impactful year for advocacy because of the federal election in October. With our Politics Aside campaign, we got 90% of federal candidates to support international development, as well as Prime Minister Trudeau. They’ve all promised to make international development a part of the conversation which is a huge win for the Canadian and international community.
If you were to give one piece of advice to future applicants, what would that be?
Don’t be scared to apply! I had no experience with EWB at all before applying, and I thought I had no chance of getting a position. If you have any specific worries or questions about the program, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat. But don’t let intimidation keep you from applying.
Tell us more about your networking experience with the other Junior Fellows
I think this is one of my favourite experiences of the JF program! You start off the summer living with all 24 JFs in a duplex for a week, then I lived with 9 others the remainder of the summer in the same house. Being in such close quarters really expedites the friendship process. I’m a really introverted person so constantly being around people was pretty exhausting at first. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and grow.
2014 Junior Fellow-Zair Naim
What were your fears and how did you overcome them?
My biggest fears were going to a country that I had no knowledge of. The thought of forgetting something that I could possible need within the four months also played on my mind a lot. I was afraid of falling sick and losing a lot of weight due to things like Malaria and other diseases. Food was another concern because there was no question of not adapting to it since there were limited options.
Tell us an interesting incident during your trip.
There were many, from failing to buy a hardboiled egg to the police taking bribes to getting proposed to (I face planted so hard it’s not even funny), so it is really hard to pick. I guess I will go with the time that we were in the Volta region and one of my fellow JFs decided that she was going to catch a chicken. She simply got up while eating and started to run after one of them and it squawked and ran. The villagers soon realized what she was trying to do so they tried to herd the chicken into a position so that she could catch it. After 15 minutes of watching her fail one of the young boys decided to catch it for her and as soon as she gets it in her hands she walks over to another JF who was mocking her and throws it in his face. He just stood there with his mouth open because he couldn’t believe what she had just done.
How did the pre departure training prepare you for this experience?
It was actually super helpful because it gave me information on health, safety and wellness that I was simply clueless about. In addition it forced me to work with the other JFs and get to know them so we had a strong bond before we left for our placements. This came in handy when we encountered problems because there was always someone to share them with.
What do you enjoy most about this program?
I enjoyed the fact that it expanded my boundaries and forced me in into a position where I was outside my comfort zone because that is when you learn most effectively. I feel like my perspective on a number of things that I felt strongly about has changed and that I have greater empathy for people who don’t see the world in the same way that I do. I learnt a lot about topics that aren’t always discussed and to further appreciate the systems that we take for granted in Canada.
How many Junior Fellow Positions are there?
The McMaster EWB Chapter will be sending one Junior Fellow this year.
Is the Junior Fellow Position paid?
The Junior Fellow Position is unpaid, however, the EWB McMaster Chapter covers all your travel and living costs.
What do JFs do during their placements?
A fellowship is a time to contribute to social change while being a transformational experience for the fellow’s professional and personal development. EWB supports the JFs through training and retreats during the placements.
Over their 3.5 month placements, the Junior Fellows work closely with one of EWB Canada’s ventures or incubator team.
A Junior Fellow could be working with a District Water Office in Malawi to assist in implementing water point operations and maintenance systems, or at EWB’s National Office in Toronto with the Political Advocacy Team to implement strategies for active citizenship.
What do candidates apply for?
Candidates apply for a 4 month Junior Fellowship placement. The successful candidates will be matched with a particular venture in any of the six countries we work in (Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia). This matching will be based on candidates’ interests and skills.
Who is eligible? I am not an Engineer, can I still be a JF?
All McMaster students are eligible to apply as long as you plan on going back to school upon return from your fellowship. You must be fully available for the summer semester (approximately May 1st to August 31st).
No need to be in engineering. We are looking for students who have proven track record of excellence, and their commitment to building a more equal and sustainable world.
When will candidates receive the final answer?
As per the timeline, we aim to give the final answers to the successful candidates before the holiday break in December. They will be asked to attend the National Conference in early January, giving them time to register for conference and book transportation.