Learning from each other: Volunteer journeys with Ucan2  

Ucan2 is a program that connects volunteers with multicultural young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who have recently arrived in Australia. Through these social connections, the volunteers engage with young people through sports, assisting with life admin or giving career guidance. Daniel Hale and Sohaila Rahimi have been volunteering with Ucan2 once a week and share their experiences of learning and growth.

Sohaila has been a part of the CMY and Ucan2 community for over a year. Having been in Australia for 3 years, Sohaila is currently studying a Diploma in Community Services. Sohaila’s involvement with the program began when she was a student herself, adjusting to life after moving from Afghanistan to Australia. She went from being a student, to completing a student intern placement with CMY, to now being a Ucan2 volunteer.

As a volunteer she commits to a 16-week term, helping run the Ucan2 program in Noble Park with young people from various backgrounds such as Afghanistan, Thailand, South Sudan and India. Her role involves helping facilitators with activities, preparing for weekly programs, updating content and managing the weekly sessions of approximately 15 students. As a recently arrived young person, Sohaila can share her own experiences to relate to many of the students.

“When you are new to a country and new school, it is not easy to connect and be open. The Ucan2 program helps let the students know that it is ok to make mistakes and learn, and fosters the growth of their confidence.”

Alongside the rewarding experience of watching the students grow, one of Sohaila’s highlights includes planning a group excursion in September, taking students to the city and visiting ACMI, NGV, seeing street art and enjoying a picnic in the botanical gardens. Sohaila notes the Ucan2 volunteer experience as one of the best parts of her 2023.

Daniel Hale has spent two terms as a Ucan2 volunteer. Passionate about refugee and asylum seeker rights, Daniel looked to play a bigger part in the advancement of newly arrived people in the country. After finding out about the work of CMY and the Ucan2 program, Daniel generously volunteered his time whilst completing a Communications degree.

Like Sohaila, Daniel’s role as a volunteer included weekly sessions across two key areas: skillset building and support building. Daniel assisted in building rapport with students, creating a bridge to help students feel welcome, comfortable and supported.

“Seeing the difference you make throughout the semesters and how much students grow in terms of language, confidence and happiness has been really rewarding.”

In addition to the growth of the students, participating in the program has continued to expand Daniel’s view of the world and created greater motivation behind his passion for refugee and asylum seeker rights. Challenging world views and experiencing cultural shocks is part of the role, balancing different perspectives and experiences, and navigating difficult conversations. Daniel has found volunteering a way to learn about himself, learning how to communicate with students from different cultures and building positive and supportive social connections.

“The experience opens your mind a lot – programs like Ucan2 allow you to see the direct effect for newly settled people and that really matters to society, especially in times like now.”

Both Daniel and Sohaila encourage others to volunteer with the program and create greater connections amongst the community.

Learn more about Ucan2

Ucan2 is a partnership between CMY and Foundation House, and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.