Local U of M student to be ‘youth ambassador’

Bryce Forbes

University of Manitoba student Aaron Petrin has been selected as a finalist to attend the National Youth Ambassadors Caucus, hosted by Global Vision, which starts this Friday in Ottawa.
In his final semester of a Bachelors of Commerce honours degree, the 23-year-old Fort Frances High School grad will join 99 other students from across Canada for the weekend conference, including a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“From what I’ve heard, we are going to be meeting him,” noted Petrin.
“And each region has their own unique challenges and opportunities, so we are going to have the chance to voice those to him from the youth perspective,” he added.
“It gives us the chance to talk about some of the things going on in our region.”
Petrin is one of six students who will be representing Manitoba at the event, with two students from each region then being selected to attend the G8/G20 youth summit in July in Huntsville, Ont., also hosted by Global Vision.
To ensure the best chance to be selected as one of the two students to attend the July summit, Petrin plans on participating actively in the Ottawa conference, try his best in all activities, and get involved as much as he can.
But he added it’s more about the teamwork than the beating out his teammates.
“Even though we are six people competing for two spots ‘at the table,’ for me it’s not about one upping my teammates,” Petrin said in an e-mail.
“It’s about simply doing my best, and contributing energy and passion towards the great things we can accomplish together,” he stressed.
“I have learned from countless group projects through my degree that what we can accomplish together far outstrips any individual efforts.”
Even if Petrin isn’t chosen to attend the July summit, he already has given back to Global Vision by telling as many people about it as possible.
“My attitude is whether or not I get selected, we all benefit when people get engaged,” he reasoned.
“It combats apathy that we want to get around, and it can only benefit us as a society the more we get involved.”
Petrin said Global Vision went on a cross-Canada search for talent, adding he was spotted at a Global Leaders Centre in Winnipeg.
“You went and participated, given a couple of projects to do, and we worked as a team to present them,” Petrin said of that two-day conference.
He added there was an application process to be selected for the upcoming caucus in Ottawa.
Petrin just finished a 10-day Summer Institute for Student Leadership and Global Citizenship run through the University of Manitoba that prepared him for his trip.
“Of the 50 of us there, half were international students, so we explored all these themes and touched on the millennium development goals over and over again,” he remarked.
“I took a lot of knowledge away from it, so I’m really excited to be able to use it already.
“From the Global Leaders Centre to the Summer Institute to this caucus, it all tied in well,” he explained.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are to end poverty and hunger, promote universal education, gender equality, and child health maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, and push for environmental sustainability and global partnership.
Petrin said an important thing he learned from the Summer Institute was partnership.
“It’s not just about building a school or drilling water points for a well, it’s much more than that,” he stressed.
“It’s about working on the ground level and involving members of the community that the project is there to benefit.
“It’s also about making sure there are social systems in place to ensure the continuity of what you set out to achieve.”
Petrin is looking forward to networking with similar-minded students at the Ottawa caucus.
“It happened at the Summer Institute with 50 other students,” he noted. “With so much leadership and potential in one room, it had the effect of synergy.
“We were all really passionate about it, so I can only imagine what it’s going to be like with double that amount of students that are passionate about these issues,” he enthused.
Petrin also hopes to use the information he learns at these conferences in his future degree in a field he calls social business.
“I wanted to get involved with this because I do have an interest in international development, as well as development here in Canada, so I knew this would help me gain a lot of these skills I would like to use in my career,” he reasoned.
“I’m just about to graduate, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to be involved with something like this.
“[Social business] uses business as more than a tool to just make money, but to do things that can improve society,” Petrin explained.
“So getting involved with these things, a lot of them are things that focus on international development.
“I’d like to do things with my business degree that can actually focus on development in our country, or in our community wherever I may end up.”
Besides selecting students for the G8/G20 Youth Summit in Huntsville in July, Global Vision will be looking for students to participate in a trade mission to China that same month.
According to Petrin, those chosen would be representing Canada on the trade mission “in the scope of international development” while meeting with Chinese business and government officials.
Petrin already will be spending part of his summer in Fiji as part of the Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) group, where he will help restore access to running water for a remote village, teaching English to kids, and building a school.
He hopes to come back to Fort Frances in early June for a month before heading to Fiji.
Petrin said he also may have the chance to fly to New York City with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Association, a student organization at the Asper School of Business from the University of Manitoba, to learn about the inner workings of finance and help close the NASDAQ exchange as a team.
This past March, he travelled to Montreal to represent the Asper School in a national human resources case competition called Excalibur.
He also has ventured to Vancouver and Mexico this year through the school.
“There have been some incredible opportunities simply by virtue of being a student and getting involved in the student body,” Petrin noted via e-mail.
“I have gained a lot of perspective by travelling to new places, and experienced things that would have otherwise not been possible if I had not made the decision to get involved.
“There could be a lot of travelling this summer,” he remarked.