This week, I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with a fellow student in the University of Winnipeg PACE program about his experiences as a Public Relations Coordinator.
Manpreet Singh arrived in Canada from India last summer and is in the final stages of the full-time Project Management Diploma program. Prior to coming to Winnipeg, Manpreet completed a post-graduate diploma in Marketing and International Business Management at the FORE School of Management. It was during this time that Manpreet held the position of PR Coordinator for ANTAR, a student organization committed to social issues.
ANTAR is a Hindi word meaning: “to make a difference”. Manpreet and several other students founded the organization with the intention of drawing awareness to various social issues and instilling a sense of corporate social responsibility in the students in the Management program.
Immediately after creating ANTAR, the founding members spent a lot of time researching the social issues that affected their country. They discovered what the issues were, what kind of help was needed for each issue, the types of issues that were of interest to the students at FORE, and how they could use ANTAR to the benefit of these causes. Based on this research, ANTAR organized about 5-7 events per year benefiting a variety of different social causes.
One of the causes that Manpreet was particularly involved in was a collaboration with an organization called Help Age India. India has a population of over 100 million elderly. The rates of isolation, poverty, and neglect are extremely high. Help Age India offers support and advocacy to allow these marginalized individuals to live with dignity and independence.
ANTAR sought to increase awareness of the good work that Help Age India was doing. They contacted the organization directly and invited suggestions from them about what might help their cause.
Manpreet discussed the event that ANTAR organized and the success that they had in influencing the students at FORE. They brought in front-line managers from Help Age India along with their “customers” – the elderly individuals who were able to benefit from the services that Help Age India provided. They brought these people to the school to do presentations for the students. They began with the front-line managers who described their work and the work of Help Age India. These managers were able to describe their experiences working with the elderly and the types of programs they had to assist in their mandate of creating independence for this group.
This was followed by discussions with the elderly clients of Help Age India who were helped by the organization. They were able to paint a picture of what their lives looked like prior to Help Age India and how they were changed for the better with the assistance provided.
The impact this had on the students was dramatic. It brought to life the very real issues that the elderly faced in India and also gave the students an idea of how they might be able to help in the future. In addition, they were able to see that their assistance can make a difference in the life of these disenfranchised people.
Manpreet discussed the primary objectives of ANTAR being twofold:
1) Students as potential audience – they wanted to bring awareness to the students of FORE, and
2) Students as potential managers – they wanted to influence the students from very early on in their careers because they realized that as they progress into upper level positions in the corporate world, they will be able to assist Help Age India (and other social causes) and foster an ingrained belief in corporate social responsibility.
Manpreet and his colleagues at ANTAR were very successful in meeting their mandate with this event. ANTAR has now been a part of the FORE community for 4 years and has successfully organized and raised awareness for a variety of social issues in India.