Meeting new friends and giving back

My name is Kanika Issar and I am 19 years old. I received my Gold Award in May 2010 in New Delhi, India, from the Vice-President at the time - Mr. Hamid Ansari. Today, I am in Riga and I am volunteering to work with the Award programme in Latvia. How I ended up coming here is an interesting story.

Meeting new friends

In 2009, I went to Russia (Petrozavodsk) for my Gold Residential Project. There I made friends with Austra and Varis Salmins who had come to the Award camp from Latvia. In 2010, they sent me an invitation to come to the Latvian Award camp, Eldorado. I was very excited for having been given this opportunity and I immediately began to fill out all the paper work for a visa. Unfortunately, the embassy gave me my visa two days after the camp had started and it did not make sense to come so far for half the camp. I was very disappointed and I did not plan on coming to Latvia anytime soon.

Friends for life

In 2011, I went to the USA to continue my studies at university, and I have now completed my first year. While trying to decide what I wanted to do for my summer holidays, I emailed Austra and decided to come to Latvia and work with the Award program in the Eldorado 2012 camp. Austra, Varis and their family very kindly offered to host me for my entire stay of two and a half months!  Meeting them at Riga airport, three years after the camp, it was a beautiful feeling to know that I made friends who I will treasure for a lifetime through an Award camp. I have been in Latvia for a month now and I volunteer at an organization called Apeirons. There I learn about people with disabilities and make several different projects and videos to increase awareness about the organization.

Giving back to the Award

When I was given a form to join the Award in class 8, I am happy I didn’t make a paper plane from it but instead filled it out and submitted it, because the Award programme has taught me so many things, given me so many experiences and has shaped who I am today. It’s exciting to discover similarities through the Award with people all over the world. Since I have gained so much from the Award, I decided to spend my summers volunteering with the Award and give back. I am looking forward to Eldorado 2012 – I have the opportunity to learn about Latvian traditions and, most importantly, about Latvian youth today. I plan to share my culture and experiences, and help to make it another successful Award camp.