Bogdan Nae (Toronto)
Bogdan Nae has been volunteering for CITL for the past two years. He first found out about the organization through the chess club at Victoria Park CI and after trying it once, found the experience to be quite rewarding. He personally finds playing chess fun and enjoys working with little kids. His greatest reward is not the hours, but rather being able to see the kids’ progress as they learn more and gain experience each time. In his two years volunteering at the Fairview Branch, Bogdan had his most memorable moment only a few months ago when two participants were able to beat him and another volunteer in double chess. For him, this was the most memorable moment as he had the chance to see the kids’ progress from learning how the chess pieces move to being able to beat him. He has found his experience at CITL quite satisfying and plans to continue his dedicated service for at least another year.
George Wan (Toronto)
George Wan has been volunteering at Northern District Library for 3 years. Having been recommended by Michael Kleinman to join CITL in 2009, George has been dedicating two hours each week teaching chess to 5-6 year-olds, which consist the majority of the participants at Northern. George is often commended for his ability to teach little kids. In fact, after joining, he has also turned his little brother into a chess player! He is an innovative volunteer, and often likes to change things up to keep the kids entertained: for example, setting up bughouse games. George enjoys volunteering at CITL because he derives great personal satisfaction from teaching young children and seeing them improve their games. He finds chess extremely awarding because he craves the strategic thinking that the game calls for, much of which he plans to apply in his future engineering career.
Jesse Feng (Toronto)
Jesse Feng is one of CITL’s most dedicated volunteers. A competitive chess player on the Victoria Park chess team, he joined CITL after Yuanling and Magas told him about the program in 2009. Jesse enjoys working with kids a
nd personally playing with those who are not paired up. He tries hard to keep members interested in the game, setting up competitive play to challenge players and facilitating games of doubles chess once in a while to switch things up. Since Jesse’s joining, membership at Brookbanks Library has doubled. Jesse is also very committed to the program; although he is currently in Las Vegas, he is still coordinating with the Brookbanks librarian to ensure that the program runs smoothly.
Robin Luo (Ottawa)
Robin is one of our youngest CITL Volunteer of the Year nominees by far while only being a freshman in high school. He is currently a dedicated volunteer at the Ruth E.Dickinson Library in Ottawa. Robin’s chess story began when he was a little child – at a young age, he was helplessly forced into learning chess by his parents and thus slowly developed distaste for the game. However, when he began to volunteer at CITL, he worked with many kids who actually wanted to learn the game not for their parents, for themselves. Such a sighting changed Robin’s perspective on chess by 180 degrees and his fondness of the game has grown day by day ever since. At the program, Robin wasn’t an average volunteer who followed the convention and rules. He surely didn’t like routine! While witnessing the current program structure of half teaching half free time, he introduced handmade Swiss tournaments to eliminate the difference in skill levels when kids played each other during free time. Such an initiative also broke the ice between participants who only chose to play against those who are friends or family. Robin volunteers his time at CITL wholeheartedly and does it entirely “for the children”.
Stefan Whittaker-Lee (Toronto)
Stefan Joined CITL two years ago, and plan to continue volunteering for as many more years as he possibly can (even after going to uni, if in Toronto). He started out at Bloor/Gladstone and later transferred to Gerrard/Ashdale. Comparing the two programs, he really enjoys the large size of Gerrard/Ashdale, where he seizes every opportunity to teach a young crowd of 20 chess players. He sees himself volunteering far into the future because he ardently believes in the cause of CITL – he’s dismayed to see chess limited popularity in Canada, and would like to help show people how wonderful the game is. He also mentioned the personal and societal benefits of chess. His only recommendation to CITL is to increase the program size. In order to do that he suggests reaching more into the community: distributing flyers, making short presentations in schools, etc. He’d be happy to contribute to such outreach efforts. Finally, when asked “what is the most important quality a CITL volunteer must have?” he replied: enthusiasm. His own enthusiasm is evident, and is intensified and complemented by his strong commitment to the program.
Patrick MacDonald (Toronto)
Simon Ong (Calgary)
Yolanda Zhang (Toronto)