“There is beauty in seeing or being part of a group of individuals who significantly outperform their individual average ability.” Na’im Zerbes
Na’im works with SecondMuse supporting the global Cities Team. He joined SecondMuse in 2016 to research and map the systemic forces operating behind tertiary education and workforce development. Before joining SecondMuse, Na’im coordinated the regional implementation of a program for the civic empowerment of junior youth, accompanying and training youth mentors to empower their younger peers in becoming agents of social change. Graduating with a BA in Political Science, he focused on acquiring a more profound understanding of how collaborative learning can help a community progress.
In today’s blog, we invite you to meet Na’im and hear about the road that led him to SecondMuse, the background that has helped shape him, and how his passion for sports applies to his everyday life.
Na’im, what brought you to your work SecondMuse?
Something foundational to the journey that led me to this work was growing up in Romania. My German and Canadian parents had moved there to focus their efforts on community-building, as both volunteers and professionals. This decision touched all parts of our life as a family, affecting my outlook from early on, particularly when it came to considering the needs and lives of those around me. It was this that led me to volunteer at a young age, which I ended up diving into full time after high school for three years. It was through volunteering that my interest in how communities can actively progress took hold. I was lucky enough to have the chance to explore this further at SecondMuse, initially as an internship at the end of my undergraduate studies, and now in both the Cities work and beyond.
Now, as a member of the SecondMuse team, how do you leverage your past experiences?
Again, the time I spent volunteering was a particularly formative experience for me from which I find myself continuously drawing from. I had the opportunity to interact with many different people in Romania as well as across Europe, from many different cultural, ethnic, socio-economic backgrounds. Hearing each of their stories and working shoulder to shoulder with them towards enriching their local communities was truly humbling.
There is a richness in the experience of every human being, which becomes invaluable when supported and brought together by an open and responsive framework, where different perspectives are positioned to build on one another. With how fundamental this idea is to the work that we do at SecondMuse, I find that reminding myself of it in approaching all parts of work helps me to constantly ask questions; what effects flow out of how we are doing what we are doing? How can we build on it?
What is something that people might not know about you? A fun fact?
I love almost all team sports. I played for a basketball team for a number of years, but enjoy every opportunity to explore other sports together with others. What I love most about them is that they can be a very tangible and immediate example of the power that can come with high levels of collaboration. Playing well as a team doesn’t just happen because everyone wants to do well; there are a number of things that need to happen in unison for (sometimes literally) the ball to start rolling. True, individual athletics make a big difference. But for a group to function as a single unit that is capable, versatile, and highly dynamic, requires a strong sense of shared purpose. This purpose needs to be combined with a common understanding as to what role each person plays and of what kind of relationships would help the collective unit get to the next level. There is beauty in seeing or being part of a group of individuals who significantly outperform their individual average ability. That and exercise is great overall!