New Leave for Change Program Offers Opportunity to Volunteer Overseas
U of G is first Canadian university to support new initiative
Starting this fall, regular full-time staff and faculty at Guelph will have an opportunity to volunteer their knowledge and skills overseas during short assignments in developing countries.
The University is piloting its involvement in a new program called Leave for Change, which is being offered through Uniterra, a joint initiative of World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Centre for International Studies and Co-operation. Uniterra mobilizes people and organizations in Canada and the developing world to reduce poverty by achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Under the Leave for Change program, Canadian volunteers are assigned overseas for two to three weeks. This allows a limited number of qualified employees from participating organizations to transform their holidays into short international assignments with well-defined tasks and the support of development professionals in the host country, says Martha Harley, assistant vice-president (human resources).
"They contribute their knowledge, technical skills and know-how to an international development project where Uniterra volunteers are usually involved," she says. "Through contributions made by the University, employees selected by Uniterra for the program receive pre-departure training, insurance coverage, vaccinations, airfare, lodging and daily stipends."
President Alastair Summerlee, incoming chair of WUSC's board of directors, says everyone benefits from Leave for Change.
"Canadian organizations act as good corporate citizens locally and internationally," he says. "The employees who participate gain new skills and awareness while having an amazing personal and professional experience. Employers and employees support a worthy humanitarian cause and express their social concern at an international level. And partner organizations in developing countries acquire more valuable skills and know-how. We can all take great pride in knowing that Guelph is the first Canadian university to offer support for this exciting new initiative."
Human Resources will soon be sending out information about Leave for Change to regular full-time staff and faculty and inviting applications for a limited number of overseas opportunities that reflect Uniterra's current needs, says Harley. A public information session has also been planned for Oct. 26 from noon to 1:15 p.m. in Room 103 of the University Centre.
Uniterra will screen all applications for suitable matches with posted vacancies, interview short- listed candidates and choose participants. Employees selected must attend a weekend-long orientation session in Montreal before leaving for their volunteer assignment in the 2007 winter semester. When they return to Guelph, they will be asked to share their experiences informally with others.
For more information about Leave for Change, call Human Resources at Ext. 53374.