By Joey Zhang, current Groundswell participant (Cohort 6)
“A whole new world, a dazzling place I never knew...” Those were the lyrics I remembered from my childhood days from the Disney movie Aladdin. While this blog post will mention nothing more than this line from the movie, I personally feel it closely describes what I make of Groundswell.
Having known Groundswell since my days studying at SFU, my first impression of the program and café was that it is a place where everyone can stay true and genuine to their hearts. When I first learned of Groundswell via former SFU Change Lab mentor Jennifer McRae, I knew immediately that Groundswell would be the perfect place for me. Having struggled to find a niche and community where I belong my entire life, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
However, it wasn’t until a year ago that I finally deemed myself mature, knowledgeable, and brave enough to come to the program, discover my passion and purposes, and give back to the community that I grew up in. Setting aside many other agendas and priorities, I began my journey through a whole new world in Groundswell in January 2017. With a desire to bring about greater gender equality and equity in the local community, I began to dedicate my mind to ideas and ways that could best make these happen.
For me, the most pleasant surprise was that I wasn’t alone in my journey. Joined by some of the best classmates and mentors who resonated with my cause, we honed our ideas to improve this world as a team of diverse individuals. In a space where we were allowed to be humans and make mistakes, I found the motivation and courage that I needed to step outside of my safety bubble and face my weaknesses.
Encouraged by this wonderful atmosphere, I was able to fearlessly share my thoughts and ideas. From establishing a unisex clothing brand, to creating a board game that would better promote elements of gender fluidity, to finally setting up a series of public events that allow individuals to explore their gender identities while building deeper connections with each other, my vision of my social business has advanced steadily over the 3 months I’ve been here. While the form and fashion of my event remains cloudy, the resolve and confidence I have in me are clear as day.
Serving to remind me to my resolve and confidence was one of Ran’s (one of our mentors) quotes: “Entrepreneurship is a muscle. It takes a resilient athlete to keep strengthening the muscle on an ongoing basis”. Being an athlete for over a decade of my life, this quote really brings out the qualities and elements in me that have been missing for a long time. A successful athlete bears an unwavering drive to get better each and every day, all the while fulfilling the duty to behave as a responsible human being outside of work. I wish for this quote to stay with me for the rest of my life, so that I will remember to persist through both the good and hard times.
And at the end of my six months of time at the Groundswell program, I aim to make a whole new world for the better, with you and me together. I look to take you to a place where we can belong, a home for all the differences and similarities between us, and a haven where we can connect and enjoy our time.
Thank you for reading!