1 minute readVolunteers
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One Youth Red Cross Volunteer Breaking Language Barriers Within His Community

Meet Mielad Ziaee, a Red Cross volunteer who serves the Texas Gulf Coast Region. He joined the Red Cross two years ago with a desire to do more by serving his community. During his time, he found a unique way to support families impacted by disasters and was recently awarded the 2021 Navin Narayan College Scholarship, a scholarship given to an exceptional graduating high school senior who embodies volunteerism and academic excellence.

Serving the Community

Growing up in Houston, Mielad understood the diversity that surrounds him and embraced his volunteer work at the Red Cross to reflect that.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Mielad has served many different roles. He first joined the Volunteer Services department, where he researched and conducted outreach to diversity organizations. He also worked with Disaster Cycle Services to teach “Be Red Cross Ready” workshops and gave community preparedness presentations. Mielad now works with the Youth department and serves as Chapter Club President. One of his initiatives is “Diversity Calls” for volunteers to explore a variety of cultural topics and enjoy themed meetings about food and music.

Taking Initiative

As a first-generation Persian-American, Mielad’s native language is Farsi. He noticed that, unlike other mainstream languages, there were very few opportunities to learn Farsi. Taking into account that Texas has one of the highest populations of Iranians, this disproportionate access presented an issue; how can volunteers help non-English speaking populations receive access to Red Cross services if they could not communicate with them?

“Language should not be a barrier for people,” said Mielad, “and we shouldn’t expect [them] to learn English either. We should take it upon ourselves.”

Mielad took the initiative to create a language-training program for Red Cross volunteers. With the help of the Texas Gulf Coast Region’s Youth Engagement Specialist and other youth leaders, Mielad organized a program for both adult and youth volunteers to learn basic phrases and scripts in languages including Farsi, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Spanish, Hindi, German, and French.

The program not only taught volunteers how to communicate in different languages but also brought their community closer together. “I can’t emphasize enough how close we all are, both adults and youth. When you have an environment where everyone is excited for a common cause, it creates this warm atmosphere,” says Mielad.

Finding Community Through Volunteering

For Mielad, his volunteer work deeply impacts him. “The most fulfilling part is the smiles on people’s faces. It’s this measurable impact and positive reinforcement that I really appreciate.” Mielad emphasizes how supportive the Red Cross community is and believes it’s why Red Crossers are so dedicated to the mission.

Want to do fulfilling work in your community like Mielad? Become a Red Cross volunteer by visiting redcross.org/VolunteerToday.