Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 13, 2007

Students to Spend Reading Week Helping and Learning From Others

Rather than spend Reading Week on a beach or catching up on assignments, more than 100 University of Guelph students will dedicate their week off from classes Feb. 19 to 23 to helping with hurricane relief efforts, learning about native life and HIV/AIDS and working with homeless at-risk youth.

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. Four groups will spend the week doing volunteer work in Hattiesburg, Miss.; Nawash, Ont.’ Moose Factory, Ont.; and Calgary. A fifth group will remain in Guelph.

“The student response to Project Serve Canada has been incredibly positive,” said Emily Reed, co-ordinator of citizenship and community engagement. “The program gives students an opportunity to personally experience and engage in social issues that they may have previously only encountered in the classroom.”

In Mississippi, students from Guelph will partner with students from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and Habitat for Humanity to help build a house, clean up debris from hurricane Katrina and record the post-Katrina reconstruction stories of Mississippi residents under the guidance of the USM department of oral history.

U of G’s 2006 Project Serve Mississippi was honoured with an Innovation Award from the Student Affairs and Services Association, a division of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services.

Another group will travel to Nawash, a First Nation reserve located on Bruce Peninsula in Lake Huron, where they will work with a number of local organizations, including the day-care centre, the band office and Native Child Welfare, to learn about the history and social realities of the aboriginal community.

In Moose Factory, located on Moose Factory Island 20 kilometres from James Bay, U of G students will partner with the Mennonite Central Committee to learn about the history of the area and the community vision of the Mushkegowuk First Nations.

In Calgary, students will work with an agency that supports homeless and at-risk youth. They will learn about poverty issues from those who manage the agency, as well as those who turn to it for help. The students will also spend a night in the streets bringing food to homeless youth and talking to them about which resources they’re accessing.

The group remaining in Guelph will host students from the University of Calgary. Together, they will receive training in HIV/AIDS issues at the AIDS Committee of Guelph-Wellington and will develop a workshop that they’ll facilitate in Guelph high schools.

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

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