Students Spend Reading Week Volunteering

February 19, 2008 - News Release

Instead of spending Reading Week relaxing at home, more than 75 University of Guelph students are dedicating their time off from classes Feb. 18 to 22 to helping with environmental initiatives, spreading HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, volunteering with hurricane relief and learning about Inuit culture and traditions.

The students are participating in Project Serve Canada, an alternative Reading Week program co-ordinated by the citizenship and community engagement unit in the University's Student Life office. Three groups leave this weekend and will spend the week doing volunteer work in Hattiesburg Miss.; Calgary, Alta.; and Pangnirtung, Nunavut. A fourth group will remain in Guelph to volunteer and host students from the University of Calgary.

"It's a great opportunity for students to extend their education outside of the classroom and to experience and engage in social issues," said Emily Reed, co-ordinator of citizenship and community engagement. "For some students this week may spark a continued interest in social issues because they have been able to experience it firsthand."

In Calgary, students will volunteer with the Sierra Club and Recycling Council of Alberta. They will also help Sustainable Calgary create a green map of the city, which involves collecting information and taking photos of the green space throughout the city so that it can be compiled into an online map.

Another group will travel to Hattiesburg where they will partner with students from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. The students will help with post-hurricane Katrina reconstruction efforts as well as interview hurricane victims for the USM's collection of oral histories of people living in southern Mississippi.

Organized in partnership with the University's Aboriginal Resource Centre, the trip to Pangnirtung will give 14 U of G Aboriginal students the opportunity to learn about the issues, challenges and culture of the people living in the northern area. The volunteers will also visit the local high schools and share with the students what the University experience is like and hopefully inspire them to consider post-secondary education.

The group remaining in Guelph, along with students from the University of Calgary, will receive training in HIV/AIDS issues at the AIDS Committee of Guelph-Wellington and then facilitate workshops in Guelph high schools aimed at HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

University of Guelph
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Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1