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The second way in which the dynamic functions is arguably more significant, on both a personal and public level. In this case, the individual finds that he or she, because of background, has special skills that can be used to enrich the lives of others. One touching example of this occurred in the spring of 2005, when Alberta played host to a special group of young visitors. These children had been among the students, parents and teachers taken hostage on 1 September 2004 at a school in the town of Beslan, Russia. At the end of the standoff, a large number of the hostages were murdered. Each of the students who visited Canada had lost a family member during the hostage-taking and the trip was meant to bring some fun back into their lives to help in the healing process. They were hosted by Russian-Canadians who were able to use their language skills and cultural knowledge to help the children feel more at home. In this instance, the background of the Russian-Canadians was an advantage that enabled them to make a special contribution on behalf of all of Alberta.

Volunteerism is empowering both for recipients and volunteers. In a culturally diverse setting, it gives its beneficiaries assistance in overcoming obstacles to the pursuit of prosperity and happiness in the province, while it also gives the volunteers themselves an opportunity to proactively shape the society in which they live.

Cross-Cultural Charity: Ismaili Muslim Education Programs in Edmonton

RUNNING TIME: 0:48 minutes

Ismaili Muslims experience volunteering as a religious requirement and therefore it is a part of daily living. As a community, every Ismaili Muslim is involved in volunteering.

- from The Changing World of Volunteer Management: A Practical Guide to Cultural Diversity in Management

In 1997, the Ismaili Council for Edmonton organized a Summer Mini-School for the children of Ismaili Muslim refugees from Afghanistan. The aim of the volunteer program was to tutor the children in English and Mathematics to help them keep pace with the learning environment of their regular schools.

Homework ClubThe Summer School program proved so successful that the decision was made to organize two extracurricular school help programs throughout the school year: the Winter Mini- School, and the Learning Centres. Like its summer counterpart, the Winter Mini-School offers extra tutoring to the children of recently arrived Ismaili Muslim immigrants. The Learning Centres were set up to provide additional educational support for the children.

Neither of these programs would exist without the support of the volunteer teachers who donate their time and knowledge to help the children adjust to a new life in Canada.

This video clip is an exceprt from the short documentary "learning...by heart", by Aleem Karmali. In this clip, Amin Poonja, the Chairman for the Aga Khan Education Board for Edmonton, and Khatoon Murji, Coordinator for the Winter Mini-School, discuss how the volunteers for the Ismaili education programs come from a diverse range of cultural, religious, ethnic, age, and professional backgrounds - a true example of cross-cultural volunteer cooperation. Read | Watch

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