International student finds personal growth, professional opportunities at George Brown
Arriving from India in May 2015, and with no familiar faces in sight, Riddhi Modi was eager to start her life from scratch at George Brown. Now a captain with the SafeWalk program, she looks back at how George Brown helped her embrace Canada and build a strong personal brand.
Describing herself as an extrovert who has always loved to talk, Modi explained how volunteer opportunities were not common in India, and so she jumped on them once in Canada.
“Last year I did Pan Am and Parapan Am (Games). I got registered in the student leadership academy at George Brown. I do the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) every year. I’m also a part of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto and Metrac, an organization that fights against sexual violence and they teach the importance of consent.”
Modi believes that volunteering can help people grow, by providing opportunities to challenge one’s beliefs and learn new things. “Even though in India I was exposed to a lot of things, here, my views have expanded,” she said.
Apart from volunteering, Modi has a flourishing work life as well. She started by working at George Brown’s Student Services and Campus Life welcome desk, and was later employed as an advertising representative at The Dialog, which is funded by the Student Association (SA) at George Brown.
“I got some new clients like TIFF through contacts during my volunteering,” Modi said, stating it as an example of how volunteering helped her professional life. She has been an active part-time sales associate with Rogers since Dec. 2015, and recently completed a co-op with the marketing department at George Brown.
She encourages new students to get involved with the SA. “Students occupying smaller positions are treated with just as much respect as the campus directors. You are recognized for what you do. That’s why I am back this year as SafeWalk captain.”
Calling the school her second home, Modi agreed that there is a downside to being swamped with work. “Sometimes it affects my health since I have been overdoing stuff. Time management is the biggest thing,” she said.
“If it was in my hands I would do a lot more volunteering,” Modi said, explaining how being an international student meant that she had to work hard to make sure she paid her bills.
Modi said she is is excited for the coming months, when she will be volunteering with a new organization called Avanti Women. She aims to work with them to empower women.
“She knows how to get things done and go around roadblocks,” said Tanja Coughlin, marketing manager at George Brown and Modi’s manager during her co-op placement.
Renuka Malhotra, a former staff reporter at The Dialog who now works with Modi in SafeWalk, said, “I always wanted to write a piece on Riddhi but couldn’t since she was employed by The Dialog then,” Malhotra said.
“It’s hard for us to survive in a country where the currency is 50 times higher than our home country, but volunteering is a good networking opportunity,” said Modi, encouraging international students to get involved in the community and never feel left behind.
“Try and connect with people. I never felt that people are not accepting me.”