University of Calgary

Service to the community

February 23, 2011

Students serve Calgary

By Erin Kaipainen

Recognizing that service to the community is a value that goes far beyond grades, scores or percentiles, student volunteers are gearing up to take part in the Calgary Serves programs this reading week.

In addition to the Calgary Serves project taking place in New Orleans this week, student volunteers will spend their time volunteering locally on two other intensive co-curricular learning experiences. One project will involve a group of ten students working in partnership with the Mustard Seed of Calgary, an organization that responds to the needs of the less fortunate in the inner city.

As part of the project, the students will forego everyday luxuries they often take for granted, such as regular showers and the comfort of their own beds, all while participating in a variety of service projects at the Mustard Seed as well as other experiential activities such as “night tours” with Homeless Awareness Calgary.

First-year Haskayne School of Business student, Frederick Scott, is looking forward to participating in the project because he wants to learn about how to make changes in his community.

“Our city needs people who can understand those who are homeless on their level and know where they are coming from,” says Frederick.

The other local Calgary Serves project will focus on at-risk youth. In a unique project supported by Dr. Christine Walsh (social work faculty) and the United Way, eight student volunteers will be paired together with eight youth deemed at-risk. Together, they will create digital stories showing their challenges and successes of transitioning from youth to adulthood.

The story-telling aspect of this project appealed to Jessica Lefebvre, a third-year English student. Jessica feels that through storytelling, new intimacies can be built that transcends gender, age, culture, latitudes and time.

“Through these new intimacies, we will be able to individually partake in the healing, shaping and recreating our world so desperately needs,” says Jessica.

These alternative reading week programs are meant to orient students to volunteer service while creating opportunities for them to explore important social issues in their communities.

Both Calgary Serves projects run Feb. 22 – 25, 2011.

For more information, please contact the Centre for Community-Engaged Learning at ccel@ucalgary.ca or visit them in MacEwan Hall 318.


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