What Are You Doing This Reading Week?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Written by May Warren

This year teams of University of Guelph students will visit four very different locations during Reading Week as a part of a volunteer learning opportunity. Visits are planned to Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina relief and Black History Month activities, Vancouver or Calgary to learn about poverty and homelessness and two different Canadian Aboriginal sites. There will also be an opportunity to volunteer locally with AIDS related organizations in Guelph.

“Project Serve Canada is a unique experience for students to live, learn and volunteer in a community different than their own,” says Christine Victorino of Citizenship and Community Engagement. Victorino, who organizes Project Serve Canada and led the Mississippi group last year, says it’s about expanding students horizons.

“It allows students to make tangible connections between classroom learning and real word experience,” she explains, adding that often Project Serve expeditions reach remote areas where students wouldn’t normally have the chance to travel and gives them a chance to interact with citizens of marginalized communities.

Jessica Helps, a Guelph undergrad who participated in Project Serve Mississippi last year, says the trip gave her a unique opportunity to learn from the people she encountered

“The Hurricane had destroyed these people's homes, stores, worksites, and schools, but there was still hope," she says, explaining that although people and lost so much they still had a lot to teach the visiting Guelph students. “I came to have a better appreciation for the simple things; life and love,” she reports.

Project Serve trips are usually five to seven days in length and on top of volunteer placements, include guest speakers, school visits and interactions with community members. “We work with community partners and/or schools to make the trip meaningful and reflective of the individual communities,” says Victorino.

Applications for Project Serve Canada can be picked up at the Connection Centre, UC 3rd floor, and are due at the Connection Centre on Friday, Oct. 27 at 4:30pm. The program is open to students of all subject matters and semester levels.
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