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Small gesture, big impact: How a student ambassador showed me the goodness of humanity

The student communities, especially the international students, are more than just individuals. With us, we carry the culture, civilization, etiquette, societal values, and family values. At the same time, we explore the daily situations in life and respond using our freedom with responsibility. When we move out of our comfort zones and reach out to others through volunteering and sharing with genuine concern, we become ambassadors of the goodness of personhood, country, continent, and the world we represent. Through this woman’s unassuming and subtle gesture of sharing, I experienced the goodness of humanity.

The title of Ambassador usually refers to an important official who works in a foreign country representing their own and is officially accepted in this position by both countries. Cambridge Dictionary defines an ambassador as a person who represents speaks for, or advertises a particular organization, group of people, activity, or brand.

In this article, I wish to share a rare ambassador whose kindness I experienced at Concordia University. Shall I call her then, ‘A Student Ambassador of Sharing and Kindness’? Yes, she is!

This student ambassador’s act is just an ordinary gesture. Through her everyday gestures, she revealed an extraordinary indication of humanity’s capacity for caring and sharing.

I am delighted to introduce Neda Nikbakht, a Ph.D. colleague and now a friend from Concordia University and Iran, to readers with the genuine desire that you, too, will become Neda, i.e., an ambassador of sharing, caring, and hospitality in your respective Universities.

Explore Montreal: Loyola Campus and Picnic is one of the annual events organized by the International Student Office of Concordia University (ISO-CU). For international readers, the Loyola Campus is one of the two campuses of Concordia University. It is home to the Stingers, campus residence buildings, the Science, Communication, and Journalism Programs, and the Concordia Athletics Complex.

In 2023, Explore Montreal was held on Friday – June 16. The participants started a bit late because of some delays and the weather forecast of rain in the evening. We traveled through transit and metro to arrive at the Loyola Campus. After a brief visit to Vanier Library, we sat under the shadow of a tree in Concordia Athletics Complex. We chatted for some time and started playing badminton, volleyball, throwball, and soccer.

As instructed by Student Engagement and Volunteer Coordinator, ISO-CU, we – the participants, carried water bottles, snacks, and sports equipment to play outdoor games. We only brought the snacks for ourselves and had them at the break. The ISO, too, provided some refreshments.

Then a young woman named Neda, the protagonist of this story, joined us. Neda arrived at the time when we were on the break. As Neda came, she brought a significant change in the atmosphere. She confidently walked in with much self-assurance and self-composure.

Then, she took a dish with Gheimeh, an authentic and tasty Iranian stew. She cooked it by herself to share with us, Concordians. She gently and clearly articulated to us the ingredients that she used for cooking. I was touched by her kind gesture. I was the one who tasted Iranian cuisine first. Her kindness meant a lot to me. Then she revealed that she was about to complete a month after she arrived in Canada.

Further interactions told that Neda is a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at Concordia University. She has her master’s in chemical engineering – Health, Safety Environment, and Bachler’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Engineering.

As we bid bye, I looked for the cookware she used to see if any food was left. The dishes were empty, as if the participants, the international students, enjoyed Neda’s Iranian cuisine to the full. Then we took our seats in transit 105 and traveled to Vendome metro.

Neda left a spark of joy, fraternity, sharing, positivity, optimism, community-building, and conscientization of human rights, especially of women’s rights, in me. That was my experience after my interaction with her.

Here my focus is how Neda has been thoughtful in bringing home-cooked food to share with international students who were participants at the Explore Montreal: Loyola Campus and Picnic. For some, Neda’s gesture could be a standard gesture of people with a potluck culture. My thoughts were on what made Neda concerned for other international students. To put it in the proper perspective, she recently arrived in Canada, yet she was sensitive to other students.

I introspected: Does she represent the Iranian culture of hospitality and sharing? Does she bring in something of which I have been unaware? Does she reveal the beautiful nature of Iranian culture, which the international communities have never heard of? Or was it her conscious decision to let the world know that Iranians were kind and hospitable? Neda spread a positive vibe in her interaction with all the participants. She played badminton, hand volleyball, and volleyball with the participants.

I went to participate in the ISO event as a fellow student. Neda came as an ambassador of Iranian sharing, kindness, hospitality, and sensitivity. She was receptive to our inquiries. Ultimately, she taught me more about Iranian cuisine, civilization, and the current milieu.

On my way to the residence, I encountered Neda in transit 105 the following week. Also, I had the opportunity to say hello to her husband – a thorough gentleman similar to Neda in his brief interactions with me. Then we exchanged some pleasantries and promised to see each other soon at some University events.

Through Neda, I have learned how to become an ambassador of one’s country and culture and to update our colleagues with the events that shape the destiny of our nations. Neda also teaches how to enrich each other through our kind gesture of sharing in our post-pandemic culture! Bravo, Neda!

The difference between a helping hand and an outstretched palm is a twist of the wrist. – Laurence Leamer

When we open our eyes, minds, hearts, soul, perspectives, and horizons wide, we experience heaven here and now. When we open the window of our life, we experience heaven by letting in the fresh air of friendship, newness, harmony, calmness, tranquility, and teamwork through our sharing.

Neda’s sharing with much concern made me experience heaven here at Concordia University and in Canada. With a grateful heart, I remember Neda, an ambassador of sharing and hospitality from Concordia University and Iran. At the Explore Montreal: Loyola Campus and Picnic, I experienced glimpses of the ever-present humanity.

This humanity advocates the continual manifestation of subtle but countless gestures of welcome, kindness, care, concern, and sharing that daily assure me of a better dwelling place for current and future humanity on earth. During this post-pandemic era, these tiny gestures let me experience love, fraternity, peace, pure joy, sharing, networking, and academic excellence.

We know too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be missing something if the drop were not there. – Mother Teresa

I am hopeful the University students, members of the Golden Key International Honour Society, and of the Golden Key Academy are inspired by the exemplary life of Neda to be torchbearers, beacons of hope, and ambassadors of sharing, humanity, and humanity to their own colleagues and friends in their universities.

Bravo, Neda!

Bravo, Concordians!

Bravo to You, the future Student Ambassador of Sharing!

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