Photo courtesy of Katie Laban

From left, IVEP participants Mandla Lukhele (Swaziland); Mina Emil Botros Garas (Egypt); Natalia Vaca Bastidas (Colombia); Nontokozo Ndlovu (Zimbabwe); Julia Khair (Palestine); and Davi Butzke (Brazil), shown with MCC Manitoba IVEP Coordinator Katie Laban, visit winter ice castles in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“To witness how the IVEPers grow during their term is a real blessing.”

- Katie Laban

Name: Katie Laban

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba (Many Rooms Church Community)

Assignment: I work with young adults in Manitoba who are part of MCC’s International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP).

Typical day: Corresponding with all those involved in IVEP in Manitoba, including arranging volunteer service assignments and connecting with host families and churches. I often get to work away from my desk: visiting IVEP participants in their service assignments or facilitating weekend activities.

Joys: Observing young people overcome challenges during their service terms. I’ve served internationally, and I can clearly remember how challenging it was at times! To witness how the IVEPers grow during their terms is a real blessing for me. It’s also really fun to showcase winter activities here in Manitoba to those who have never experienced snow before!

Natalia Vaca Bastidas (from Colombia) performs with Mina Emil Botros Garas (Egypt) and Davi Butzke (Brazil) at the 2018 IVEP night at Sam’s Place in Winnipeg. MCC photo/Matthew Sawatzky

Moments of connection: At our last winter retreat, we had a “spiritual potluck.” Each person shared something from their faith journey during their IVEP experience, and we ended with a spontaneous chorus of “How Great Thou Art,” sung simultaneously in multiple languages. We were sitting in the loft of a wood cabin on a snowy field, and it felt something like heaven, I think.

Challenges: When participants struggle. Sometimes there is no quick fix to the challenges they’re experiencing, and the only answer is to walk alongside.


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