HI Washington DC’s Youngest Volunteer Shares Her Inspirational Story

16 April 2015

My name is Amana Bawa, and I am a graduating senior at George Washington University (GWU) majoring in Anthropology and Africana Studies. I began volunteering with HI Washington DC’s Peace Conference Committee during the summer of 2012, following the footsteps of my older sister Najima Bawa. After my introduction to HI Washington DC, I realized what the excitement was about. We discussed human rights and other peace related topics that we all felt passionate about. It was an amazing feeling to work with diverse people who all had a common goal to use their intellect and resources to plan a conference that would hopefully empower and inspire future leaders for social change. Since 2012, I have continuously been able to volunteer with HI Washington DC’s Peace Conference Committee.

During the spring of 2013, I joined AIESEC DC. AIESEC is a global non profit organization that focuses on developing the leadership potential of youth through experimental learning, volunteer experiences, and professional internships across 126 countries and territories. Joining AIESEC has profoundly changed my perspectives as I was suddenly placed in a global network, gaining leadership skills and facilitating both outgoing and incoming exchange for students to experience volunteer projects or paid internships. Eventually, I volunteered abroad through AIESEC in Argentina for three months.

When I returned to DC, I remained active in both AIESEC and HI Washington DC with a new sense of empowerment. I was feeling more like a global citizen. My favorite HI Washington DC Peace Conference was the 2013 Arab Spring and New Media Conference, which had a goal of inspiring people to make differences in the world through new media.

During the 2013 Peace Conference, I realized how much I was inspired by the stories of the various speakers and experts. I gained so much knowledge and clarity in a way that I rarely receive in a classroom. It was that moment of clarity in which I began to align people’s actions with impactful and beautiful consequences of inspiration. I realized that I wanted to always be a person who was able to make an impact. This was one of the reasons I cofounded XOLA, the only Afro-Caribbean Dance Team at GW. My cofounder and I wanted to provide a space where there could be a continuous legacy of culture, creativity, and learning through Afro-Caribbean dance. In December 2014, XOLA partnered with HI-DC on a campaign for Ebola awareness. XOLA continues to forge partnerships with the local community to promote cultural diversity.

Looking back, I wouldn’t be who I am today, if I had not been able to grow as an individual through my volunteer experiences. From becoming the director of Talent Management in AIESEC DC to continuing to volunteer with HI Washington DC, I have evolved to be a more attentive person to the world. I now see the beauty of the world because I am aware of the footprints that we all leave, and I hope to continue to work towards making sure those footprints are positive, peaceful, and meaningful in the most diverse way possible.