May, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

May is a high school teacher with an interest in human rights. She also serves as President of the Saskatoon branch of the United Nations Association in Canada. May was born in Iran but grew up in Sweden and later, moved to Canada. Before settling in Saskatoon, she lived in Rankin Inlet, the Northwest Territories and Bella Bella, British Columbia, a very remote Heiltsuk Aboriginal community on the northwest coast.

My exposure to different cultures and languages reinforced my understanding of the importance of unity in diversity — my belief that, despite our differences, we all belong to one human race. 

I always look for opportunities to apply the principles of the oneness of humanity, of love and fellowship, in an authentic way to my family life and my career. When an opportunity arose to become involved with the Saskatoon branch of the United Nations Association on a voluntary basis, I gladly took it. I feel that working with dedicated people within the United Nations’ network, to a large extent, advances our understanding that the world is interconnected, that the world is one.

I enjoy my involvement with the youth in the Human Rights Club. I see that many youth have a desire to improve the conditions of their communities and the world but are sometimes at a loss on where to begin. We are realizing together that what we do in our own lives and surroundings contributes to the kind of society we build. Justice, unity and peace do not just happen. We are all responsible in creating those conditions on a daily basis. We find ways to serve our communities and to take global action with a variety of organizations who work toward those goals as well. This empowers us and gives us hope.

In our approach at the Human Rights Club, we try to have a strong educational component in every project or activity that we do. For instance, when we supported a women’s shelter in Saskatoon, the youth did not just bring clothes, toys and other items, but they engaged in meaningful and deep discussions to understand the factors conducive to domestic violence and the importance of supporting victims of this phenomenon. Before such project can aim to serve the community, there needs to be a greater understanding of the issue at hand.

I apply the same principles to my work as a teacher. I am glad to have had an opportunity to be involved in curriculum development. Our high school curriculum offers a Global Citizenship course and a World Religions course for Grade 12 students.  The former aims to raise students’ awareness and understanding of their global footprint; the latter promotes ways to understand various faith traditions, their history and role in society.

To me, students are a mine rich in gems; they are full of treasures: the capacity to make positive changes in their communities, aptitude to serve their fellow human beings and a desire to create a better society for all. My role as a teacher is to help the students polish those gems.  It is through education that we can truly appreciate the treasures that are within us.