In Her Own Words: Joyce Vandall

By: Shaunna Grandish November, 2014

Joyce Vandall has been a passionate community volunteer for over 30 years. She has been a tireless advocate for immigrant and refugee youth, literacy, multicultural awareness, and English as a second language (ESL) programs. She has received numerous awards for her dedication, hard work and devotion to her causes. Joyce has received recognition from the Regina Open Door Society for her community service to refugees and immigrants; from Saskatchewan Council for Educators of Non-English speaker (SCENES) for her volunteer work with ESL; from the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS) for her dedication to multiculturalism; from the Arbos Awards for ESL teaching in the province; and she has even received the Saskatchewan Centennial medal for her contribution to ESL teaching.

This past September, Joyce chatted with Shaunna Grandish at SaskCulture, over the phone from Victoria B.C., and offered up some lessons on volunteering.

Lesson 1: Volunteering can open a whole new world.

Through her work with ESL programs, Joyce Vandall experienced teaching and working with youth from all over the globe, and it was through her ‘kids’ she was able to learn about how culturally rich and diverse the world truly is.

“We are more alike than we are different, and we should also celebrate the differences because they are so rich,” she explains. “It is the world experience. The world is getting smaller. If you don’t celebrate culture, you lose the richness of the world. It’s about getting to know how other people think and their worldview because that’s where the richness lies; it’s lost unless we embrace multiculturalism and culture. It’s one of the finer things in life, but it can so easily get lost in all of the other stuff. We can help our students become more aware that it’s culture that builds the community – not necessarily the dollars.”

Lesson 2: Volunteering can provide personal growth.

Joyce has been involved with various non-profit organizations, and each has left an impact. Some personal highlights for her included learning governance and working with people from a variety of backgrounds around the province. According to her, when one is interested in becoming a volunteer, one can begin small. “It’s in the giving that you do receive, and that’s part of the blessing I’ve received from teaching,” she says. “What I would tell someone who is interested in volunteering is this: Get outside of yourself, have a life and get to know something different.”

Lesson 3: Get youth involved.

Joyce has seen the positive impact volunteering has had on the youth she has worked with over the years. She believes organizations should try harder to get youth involved and have their voices heard at the table. “Let’s focus on our youth, and take them as they come – as the wild and wonderful people they are. They have a lot to offer, lots of energy and good ideas, and they are looking for a place to belong – let it be volunteerism. The world is changing and what they bring is very interesting. We should embrace them because they are our future. If you love them, they will love you back. If you put your nose up at them, they’ll put up theirs as well. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the kids. Enjoy the experience.”