U of G Employees to 'Leave for Change'

June 06, 2008 - News Release

Three University of Guelph professors and three staff members will be spending their vacation time this year making a difference abroad as part of Leave for Change, it was announced today.

In addition, two Guelph-based businesses, The Co-operators insurance agency and Armtec, a manufacturing company, will be taking part in the program for the first time this year, along with the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. The City of Guelph has also pledged its support.

This is the second year that U of G has participated in Leave for Change, which promotes short-term volunteer opportunities for people to help out with meaningful projects in international settings. The program is run through Uniterra and was created by World University Service of Canada and the Centre for International Studies and Co-operation.

Guelph was the first university in English-speaking Canada to participate. The U of G employees will be going to Vietnam, Botswana, Malawi and Guatemala to work on a variety of projects ranging from helping to create an IT network for an AIDS service organization to serving as an adviser for a gender-based violence support group.

"Leave for Change provides people with a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in communities around the world," said president Alastair Summerlee.

"It will undoubtedly also be an incredible professional and personal experience for these six U of G employees, and we look forward to hearing about their experience and having them share learning at their workplace."
Last year, Summerlee said he hoped local companies and the municipal government would become interested in joining U of G in offering the Leave for Change program. The goal was creating a community in the city that "demonstrates our overriding concern for international communities that are less fortunate than we are. I am very happy to report that the Co-operators is sending four employees to 'Leave for Change' and Armtec is sending two, and that the City of Guelph has pledged to support the program."

U of G employees selected to take part this year are: Prof. Joe Barth, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management; Prof. Karyn Freedman, Department of Philosophy; Prof. Don Mercer, Department of Food Science; Peggy Nagle, manager of ESL programs in the Office of Open Learning; Lisbeth Sider, a communications officer in the CIO office; and David Tocek, a computer support technician in the College of Management and Economics.

Barth and Sider will be working with a vocational training school in Vietnam that was created to help reduce poverty by providing free education and training. Barth will help the food and beverage department upgrade its management, human resources and marketing, and assess current teaching practices. Sider will be strengthening the school's capacity to use graphic software and design communication tools.

\Freedman and Tocek are going to Botswana to work with the organization Women Against Rape. Freedman will be strengthening advocacy and management of a new women's shelter and helping to develop effective ways of dealing with gender-based violence. Tocek will conduct an audit of computer and IT programs and train staff in designing and updating websites.

\Mercer is travelling to Malawi to work with three national farmers' associations and co-ops. He will facilitate workshops on food production, processing and safety, and advise them on quality control, marketing and certification.

Nagle will help improve client service quality at a national community tourism agency in Guatemala that is geared towards gender equity and valuing local culture and the environment.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

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