Chapman and Innovation Grant Recipient: Amarildo Ceka – Eaglesland Albanian Society of BC

Hear back from Amarildo about his project to create resources for the Albanian community in BC. Amarildo was a recipient of the Centre for Community Engaged Learning’s Chapman and Innovation Grants in the 2022-23 school year. You can view his report here.

Applications for CCEL Grants are open until Sunday, February 4, 2024 at 11:59 PM PT. Learn more about our grant funding here.

Could you please tell us what your project is about?

The majority of the Albanian diaspora live in the following developed countries: The United States, Greece, Italy, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Albanians began immigrating to Canada in the early twentieth century, and the number has increased since the government’s settlement program for Albanian Kosovar refugees in 1991. The ethnic Albanian population in Canada is 41,620, with an estimated 2455 in British Columbia alone, while the true figure may be greater owing to the diversity of birth countries. The scattering of the community throughout different cities and lack of professional geared programs from NGOs has made it difficult for the community to come together. To empower the Albanian community in BC, our organization conducted a study to understand the demographics, socio-economic status, and needs of the community. Informational workshops focused on health education, health literacy, education, employment opportunities, and settlement information were created, along with the AlbMentor mentorship program and the Albanian businesses in BC directory.

What impact did your project work have on communities that engage with Eaglesland Albanian Cultural Society of BC?

With support from the Chapman and Innovation Grant, we were able to impact our community in a variety of ways. By conducting a study to understand the demographics, socio-economic status, and needs of the Albanian community in BC, we were able to identify focus areas to address and developed tailored programs and initiatives to address those needs. This study was the first of its kind among this community, and helped to establish a baseline understanding about the community’s needs. Secondly, the creation of informational workshops with a focus on health education, literacy, education, employment opportunities, as well as settlement information helped members of the Albanian community in BC access resources and information aimed to could improve their quality of life. Third, the launch of the AlbMentor mentorship program facilitated the sharing of knowledge and experience between successful mentors and youth, as well as volunteers and new residents of BC. We are hoping this mentorship program will help foster a sense of community and create opportunities for growth and development. In June of 2023 and spurred by this program, we held an in-person gathering of professionals to network held in downtown Vancouver. Lastly, the creation of the Albanian Businesses in BC Directory, will support with the promoting of Albanian-owned businesses in BC and by increasing their visibility and accessibility to the broader community. We have already been receiving positive feedback from business owners within the Province, and hope that this initiative will have a lasting positive impact on the community’s economic development into the future.

What advice do you have for students thinking of applying for a CCEL Grant?

I encourage all UBC students to consider applying for a CCEL Grant. If you have a cause that you care about and are thinking about applying, here are some pieces of advice that may help you:

  • Start early: Since the application process might take some time, it’s crucial to get started early and allow yourself enough time to complete all required stages. Before you start, make sure you have properly read the instructions and are aware of all the requirements.
  • Focus on the impacts of your project:  CCEL’s Grants are all about having a positive impact on the community, so make sure it is well planned and be explicit about the results you want to see and how you plan on determining whether or not your project is successful.
  • Create the right partnerships: Since working on your project will probably involve other people, make sure you have solid partners in place to help you.
  • Be innovative: Don’t be scared to think creatively or innovatively- by considering fresh strategies or alliances that might aid in your goal-achieving.
  • Be genuine: Be loyal to who you are and what you believe in. Make sure your idea represents your actual passions and interests
  • Have fun: Have fun with the process and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

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