afterwords: Amandeep Dehal

afterwords: Amandeep Dehal

Launching in celebration of UBC Okanagan’s 15th anniversary in 2020, alumni UBC’s afterwords is a digital conversation series that shares the stories of some of UBC Okanagan’s extraordinary alumni in 15 questions.

Meet Amandeep Dehal

1. What is your name?

My name is Amandeep Dehal.

2. What education did you receive at UBC?

UBC has been an incredible and engaging place for me with a strong sense of community that I chose to complete two degrees at the same campus. I completed my BA after transferring from Okanagan College followed by a BEd, fulfilling my dream of becoming a teacher.

3. Why did you choose to study at UBC?

UBC is a world-known institute. It was always in my mind to study at UBC throughout high school since it is the university of our province, BC. It brings students together from all around the world, which was great for me since I am an immigrant as well, meaning I enjoy connecting with people from other cultures. UBC made that happen. I got involved in clubs and associations along with running a English Student Union to connect and build a sense of community with the other students. One other reason is that UBC has its alumni all around the world. This makes it easier for me to connect with my colleagues after I graduate.

4. If you could start University again, would you do anything differently?

Yes, I believe things would naturally be different for me. I would not be able to attend and study full time. I would only be able to take classes on the weekends. Also, I have higher chances of taking part in the UBC exchange program now. I would absolutely study in another country through UBC in a summer course since I truly enjoy learning about cultures and languages while experiencing it. I was unable to do this before because I was focused to achieve my goal. Now that my goal is fulfilled and have completed my degrees. It would be a pleasure to come back to UBC to take a course through the exchange program within my field of study.

5. What was your first official job after graduation?

Teacher. It had been my goal to be a teacher since grade ten. I worked on fulfilling my dream and made it possible. Starting in high school, I started to volunteer with libraries to work with school aged children so I work towards the goal. I was fortunate to get hired right after I completed the studies at UBC.

6. What is your current profession?

I am still a teacher with a passion of learning and engaging our students in a meaningful way.

7. What is the best part of your job?

The ‘awe moments’ is the best part of out of anything in a day of teaching and learning. It is an inspiring moment for both myself and the learners when something clicks into their minds and you can notice the expressions on their faces. Those moments are rewarding. Also, I truly enjoy seeing the smiling faces in the morning and greeting each of my students when they are lined up. The first thing we do is a sharing circle in the mornings and it is a pleasure to listen to the stories that students share. It is our way to connect and move forward in our day of learning which I enjoy as well. I learned a quote, grow where you are planted, from my faculty advisor at UBC. I take this quote with me everywhere because it allows me to be flexible and adaptable.

8. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career?

As a teacher, I have the pleasure of working with children from various backgrounds and knowing where they come from. There are times when you get a student in your class who needs to build connections and needs time to build confidence. I am getting better at getting to understand their backgrounds and connecting as I move forward in my career. Connecting and building relationships is such a key because this allows both parties to get to know one another and builds a sense of community and comfort where learning will take place automatically. Also, there are unknowns sometimes but as I mentioned before being flexible and trusting the process is the key.

9. What would you like to share with current students who will be graduating in the coming years who have concerns with the current work climate?

I will say that you have chosen these goals and you are working on them. So, trust yourself and trust the process. You will succeed! When I was little, I learned a story of a thirsty crow who looks for water here and there. Then, one day he goes to the jungle when he could not find water anywhere in town. There he sees a water pot of clay but only with little with water in it at the bottom. The crow fills it with tiny rocks and the water comes up. The crow drinks the water and flew away. Hence, where there is a will, there is a way. You all have the will and you are already working hard on it. So, there will be a way meaning you will have a job. Yes, you may spend some time looking for it but you will end up with a job. For example, I worked as a teacher on call for few months first then slowly this year I got a continuing contract.

10. What’s the best advice you can give to help plan a career?

Have goals set in your mind and work on them. I learned in my grade 12 class to make a five-year plan. Since then, I have been making long term plans that are realistic and achievable. Sometimes, things do not go the way we plan them so look for other ways to achieve your goals. For example, I transferred to UBC from a college because college was closer to me and something I could afford at the time. But I knew that I am still working on my goals and trusting the process that I will end up attending UBC and completing my degrees.

11. Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?

Yes. It is crucial to have someone who can inspire you. I am fortunate to have more than one mentor in my life. I look up to my mentor teacher who trained me and encouraged me throughout my journey of being an educator. I still text him when I am not sure of things because I know that he will listen and provide me effective feedback. I am grateful to UBC for connecting me with such a humble and passionate mentor through the BEd program. Also, I look up to my friend who is an engineer and continues to work hard to achieve his goals. He also attended UBC and we graduated together from the same high school. Whenever we meet, he inspires me by sharing his stories and how he has been working to get better and looking at matters with a positive lens. This allows me to be pro-active and grow personally.

12. How and where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from my colleagues and cousins. I have always found my cousins to be inspiring since I was little. As an immigrant to this country, I focused on working hard and achieving something. I looked up to my cousin who is a retired RCMP officer. He came to Canada when he was very young. He grew up here and became an RCMP officer. His story inspired me. It allowed me to think that when he can do it, I can too. I followed his path along with my passion to achieve my goals. Today, I look up to my colleagues who inspire me daily to do something different. I enjoy visiting different learning environments because they inspire me with different ideas and techniques.

13. How do you balance your work and home life?

Balance is the key! I try my best to balance things personally and professionally. I am glad I am not married yet (haha) because I am sure things get even difficult to manage. However, I do live with a mother who I look after. I go for a daily walk with her in the evening and grocery shopping on Sundays. We also eat home meals together at home. I try my best to come home on time after work so I can still spend time with my mother. There are times when I hang out with my friends on the weekends or occasions. Sometimes, I and my friends just get together to go for a hike on a beautiful warm day. I have always tried my best to message my friends and family members to see how they are doing. Today we have so many platforms to connect and it just takes one call or message to tell someone how much you care for them or how much you love them. This is the reason that I am still friends with someone I went to high school even that we moved cities after we graduated. Staying in touch regularly is a key.

14. Do you have any books that you would suggest are a must read?

I like to read books that would connect to me. Wonder, Fish in a Tree, and Becoming are examples of books I have read and felt inspired. I feel like these are a must read because they not only share stories but also invites the readers to change their mindsets.

15. Who is one UBC Okanagan alumnus you would like to nominate for afterwords?

Kimberley Dawn Best. I am nominating her because I know that as a mother of three she attended UBCO and became a teacher with a successful career. If she can change her career midway through her life as a single mother, we can try.