By Fergus Allen
Ten years ago, Mohsen Rowshanaei was a volunteer with the Crisis Centre’s youth programming. He found the experience highly rewarding, but life, as it often does, got in the way. Other responsibilities took hold; there was a career in IT to focus on, and a passion for cooking to nurture on the side.
The urge to volunteer never left him, however It was always there, waiting to make a grand comeback. And years later, after a chance encounter in a shopping mall, it did.
As part of his original volunteer role with the community learning and engagement team, Mohsen was tasked with delivering talks on stress management and suicide prevention in various schools around the province. During this time he “went into a highschool to deliver a talk, and immediately I could see some of the students were, shall I say, misbehaving,” says Mohsen. “Basically, I could tell some of them maybe didn’t want to be there. But I gave my talk, did my thing, and got out of there.” “
Ten years later, an unassuming Mohsen was walking around Metrotown when a stranger approached him, thanking him profusely. “It was one of the kids from that day,” Mohsen says, smiling. “They came up to me and told me how much my talk had meant to them. It was really sweet.”
In 2021, things are going well for Mohsen. He’s returned to the Centre to facilitate Self-Care for Mental Health workshops, and is turning a lifelong passion into a profession with an exciting new career in the culinary industry. “I’m really blessed right now, doing the cooking gig and reconnecting with volunteering,” he says.
Mohsen’s initial inspiration to volunteer for the Centre came as an attempt to “give back” after his own challenging adolescence. “I moved to Canada as a teen, and my English abilities were quite poor. I lived in a fairly rough area and got picked on quite a lot. It was difficult.”
In the years since Mohsen last volunteered at the Centre, the curriculum for youth programming has adapted. “It’s much more comprehensive now,” he says. “It provides valuable tools for self-healing and the overall maintenance of one’s psychological health.”
The most important thing in delivering these talks isn’t strictly the material itself, Mohsen says, but in the energy one brings to their talks. “Because kids might not remember all the material. It’s the mark that’s left on them that they take away.”
“Bringing in your own experiences. An energy that resonates. Adding your own flavour. That’s the most important thing you can do.”
More information about our youth programming is available online.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call:
- Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
- Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
- Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
- Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)