A little while ago I was chatting with Nima Ahmadi, one of the founding members of Tirgan, and I threw some questions his way….
How did Tirgan come about? Tirgan began with 2 simple words…. What if….
I asked what the secret was to the success of Tirgan – we perfected the dish, by trying out different “ingredients”, and have, in the 6th attempt, improved on the success of past events, and dare I say it, mastered the blend. Through trial and error, we found the perfect balance.
We figured out that the key ingredients are
- Having a democratic environment with everyone free to contribute their thoughts, ideas and suggestions, and
- Enabling each volunteer to do what is asked of them in their area of responsibility
Why do they volunteer? For most, it is a one time commitment, some for as little as a couple of hours – for others it is for events that they want to be a part of. For others it’s being part of a cultural event. Then there are those who want to step outside their comfort zone, or do something they have always wanted to do, some want to network, others want to showcase their skills, or add a skill to their resumes or even add volunteer/community hours to their school credits. And then there are the die-hard volunteers. These people do it for the self-fulfillment, and are driven by an insatiable fire inside, or some personal motivation.
Tirgan volunteers are different though…. They are! We empower our volunteers, by giving them the room to develop their skills, maybe find new ones. They have a voice in the implementation of roles, and no-one escapes the power of veto, not even Nima or Mehrdad. If they have a better idea, it is always heard. And the best part is that they take whatever they have learned from the Tirgan family, and implement it in other events they participate in. They have seen what high expectations can achieve, and raise the bar on what they do, and in so doing, they raise the bar for the people they collaborate with. And that gives me a sense of pride.
How many volunteers are we talking about? Tirgan is in 3 months, and right now, we have about 140+ people working part-time to make all the “pre-event” arrangements. During the 3-day festival, this figure shoots up to 350+ – to put it another way, it takes over 20,000 year-round volunteer hours to make a Tirgan happen.
So true. I have had the privilege of working alongside some incredible people over the past few years, and am honoured to be able to call most of them dear friends. Their level of commitment and professionalism never ceases to amaze me.
Next time, we’ll hear from some of the Tirgan “ingredients” – the volunteers themselves. In the meanwhile, if you want to be a volunteer, click here https://tirgan.ca/b/2017/b/2017/about/volunteer/