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From a World Vision placement to Ottawa with Malala

Text that reads: The whole experience was extremely empowering

Kyra Tudlong first got involved with World Vision because she wanted to help other people, not herself.

So it was just a serendipitous surprise when the University of Guelph-Humber student was one of eight World Vision youth ambassadors recently selected for a trip to attend Malala Yousafzai’s history-making speech to Canadian Parliament.

Tudlong, who is finishing her fourth year in the Family & Community Social Services program, could scarcely believe it was real life. There she was, sitting in the House of Commons and listening to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduce Yousafzai.

Tudlong was enthralled then as the Nobel Peace Prize recipient took the stage and delivered a historic address urging Canada to promote education for girls and refugees around the world.

“It was incredibly moving,” Tudlong said. “The whole experience was extremely empowering. It was such a diverse crowd and one message really resonated with all of us: that giving girls better access to education could possibly save our world.

“I had to take a step back and, the day after, I reflected on it and took notes. It ignited a greater spark to be an activist.”

Tudlong first got involved with World Vision during her field placement at the University of Guelph-Humber, when she worked to support World Vision’s child sponsorship operations and youth and student engagement team.

After her placement, she continued as a youth ambassador for World Vision, a globally focused relief, development and advocacy organization.

In Ottawa, a World Vision staff member who knew Yousafzai personally even gave Tudlong and her fellow ambassadors the opportunity to write the activist a letter.

Yousafzai, who is now the youngest person to ever address Canadian Parliament, was targeted as a teenager for speaking out on the right of girls to learn. She survived an attack by a masked gunman at age 15.

Though Tudlong was familiar with Yousafzai’s story, she dug deeper into her life once she found out about the opportunity to hear her speak.

“I was amazed at how powerful her story is,” Tudlong said. “She represents for me not only a young woman who wants to share her voice, but also a young woman who has experienced discrimination due to her religion and race.

“The most amazing thing is that she rose above that and still had a voice.”

For Tudlong, the trip dovetailed nicely with her studies at UofGH. After graduating, she wants to continue working for NGOs with the goal of making a difference around the world.

“My courses really taught me about having a greater lens and behaving like more of a global citizen. That’s what directed my passion to help others,” she said. “This was a great opportunity because I actually just wrote a paper on women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries, and how social workers can support those programs.

“I could definitely see myself doing that.”

Learn more about Family and Community Social Services at the University of Guelph-Humber.

Learn more about Placement Services at the University of Guelph-Humber.