Internationalism is identified as one of the University of Guelph’s key institutional objectives. Indeed, international co-operation takes Guelph expertise around the world. U of G founded Veterinarians Without Borders and we were one o f the first universities to manage Canadian aid projects through the Canadian International Development Agency. We are lending expertise to the development of a new university in Botswana as well as scientific advisers to the United Nations Environment Program. Our faculty and staff are leading and collaborating in international research projects around the globe and many of our students participate in international travel opportunities as part of their educational experience.
This is the third 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. Uniterra mobilizes people and organizations in Canada and the developing world to reduce poverty by achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Under Leave for Change, Canadian volunteers are assigned overseas for two to four 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.
Our University Secretary, Vicki Hodgkinson, just returned from Malawi where she was involved with an incredible project that will literally help to change lives and improve life for the people of that country. You can read about Vicki’s incredible journey at her blog site – but I must warn you, reading Vicki’s blog will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, a ride filled with sadness and despair but also love and hope. Here is an excerpt:
“Later during the workshop, I was able to sit and talk with some of the women. They shared some of their stories. They told me about the struggle of coming to terms with having HIV, the challenges brought by the stigma it carries, the positive things they are doing in their lives to live fully, and the feelings of empowerment they have gained through membership in COWLHA. It was tremendously moving….but I dared not let a tear come to my eye. The last thing they want is for someone to feel sorry for them……they are busy living and seeking to be respected as human beings first, as mothers, daughters, friends, co-workers….and only subsequently, as victims of HIV.”
Vicki’s blog: http://www.vicki.onleave.ca
Sean Yo, an analyst in Computing and Communications Services, recently returned from a five-week trip to Indonesia. Sean went to Nepal in 2007 as one of the first four U of G staff members chosen to participate in Leave for Change. I suspect that this volunteer experience changed Sean’s own life as he organized his Indonesian volunteer activity independently – but with the support of the University and our Professional Staff Association.
Join Sean on leave at: http://www.sean.onleave.ca
As well, Sean was recently profiled in At Guelph and you can read more about him here: http://www.uoguelph.ca/atguelph/09-06-17/profile.shtml
I am proud and humbled to work with people like Vicki and Sean, and with so many more of our students, staff, faculty and alumni who give real meaning to the term, ‘global citizenship’.