Although Brittany Harkness has never travelled outside of Canada before, the first-year photography student has always loved volunteer work. She is one of the volunteers going to Guatemala with Algonquin College’s Global Projects
“I mixed the desire to travel and volunteer work,” said Harkness. “I hope to get a new perspective on life and learn about the culture.”
Global Projects is available for students, recent alumni and faculty to go on volunteer trips abroad. This year, six volunteers from Algonquin will go to Guatemala to install solar panels on local homes and 10 volunteers will go to Kenya to help build a school.
The Guatemala trip is set to take place Feb. 22 to March 1 and the trip to Kenya is from June 19 to June 28. The trips are funded by chosen participants who, along with others involved in the process, hold fundraisers to help offset the costs.
There have been three fundraisers giving out coffee and baked goods. Volunteers can chose to work at the table or supply food as a way to get engaged in the fundraising process. The third and final fundraiser was held in the Student Central Lounge, Fri. Feb. 7.
The coffee for the fundraiser is donated by Campus Services. The most attention drawing part of the fundraising display was cupcakes placed on a solar panel tray.
Previous years have seen higher numbers of volunteers.
Kortney Force, volunteer centre representative, thinks the lower number is due to fewer students knowing about the opportunity. To help get more people involved, Force suggested increasing marketing from the AC Hub Student Support Services and more fundraising.
“The money goes directly to students, which makes it easier for getting on board,” said Force. “The students who are exposed are passionate.”
David Solomon, a Global Projects facilitator from the office of applied research, innovation and entrepreneurship, is one staff member taking volunteers to Todo Santos, Guatemala. This will be the first trip he is a part of.
“I’m most excited about going and seeing a part of the world and a different way of life,” said Solomon. “And to leave a positive impact for years to come after we leave.”
Rebecca Sun, the co-curricular record and volunteerism coordinator, is going on the trip to Kenya.
Sun took time out of her day to stop by the fundraiser to see how it was going. She also scouts trips, runs them through risk management and builds the curriculum for the trips.
“I think it is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Sun. “It’s more than the proposed project, the participants build and connect with a community, I like to see them become actively engaged and globally minded.”
“My favourite part is to see students break out of their shell,” said Sun. “They start out shy and on the trip barriers break down. Participants in the past have talked about struggles with eating disorders and depression because they feel safe.”