Mélissa Langlois, Faculty of Social Science: The first year of university means different things to each of us. For some, it’s a new start. For others, it offers a second chance, or a glimpse of the future. It was mainly the quality and reputation of the criminology program that drew Mélissa to the University of Ottawa. In her second semester, Mélissa took the Introduction à la politique canadienne course to broaden her knowledge. In this class, she had to choose between writing a paper on Canadian politics or enrolling in the Community Service Learning (CSL) program offering students volunteer opportunities linked to the material covered in class. Mélissa knew she would benefit from CSL both academically and personally. She chose a placement with ACORN Canada, a non-profit organization that helps low and moderate income families deal with political, housing and social issues. Mélissa chose a front-line placement that gave her the opportunity to work directly with the public. “My placement was very rewarding, and I gained valuable experience. I didn’t want to be filling my head only with what I learned in class; now I can see for myself how things work in the real world. I met new people and I liked being with the public.” Mélissa’s tasks as an ACORN volunteer mostly had to do with awareness-raising and communication. She knows her work made a real difference and had an impact on the community.
Volunteering for the Community Life Service: An unforgettable experience! For the past few years, the Community Life Service’s French programming section has been partnering with the Centre. Every semester, many students enrolled in Community Service Learning (CSL) through French as a Second Language course each volunteer 30 hours for Community Life. Thanks to their volunteer work, students had a chance to see shows at the National Arts Centre, watched French-language films, attended event launches and took part in the service’s many other French-language activities on-campus. The Community Life Service is happy to be able to count on the involvement of reliable CSL students, who help promote our activities among French immersion students.
Sarah Brown, Faculty of Arts. Sarah took a women`s studies course with Professor Corrie Scott. The course, Women, Gender, Feminism: An Introduction (FEM 1100C), offered a Community Service Learning (CSL) option. Scott chose to offer CSL in her classroom because `volunteering’ with a community organization allows students to turn theory studied in the classroom into practical, concrete solutions for problems in our communities. It has also been very empowering for many of my students. Every year, students tell me that their volunteer experience was life-changing`. She gives the example of a group of students who volunteered with the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization conducting focus groups to determine if new immigrant women had unmet needs. `Many of the student volunteers were also new to Canada and found the experience helped them feel more confident about speaking English in public. Several students continued to volunteer well after our class was finished and all of the students said it helped them feel like they were part of a community" says Scott. For her course, Sarah chose to volunteer as a women`s activity facilitator with Interval House of Ottawa, a shelter for about 100 abused women and 150 children. ‘ I chose this option instead of the final project because it provided me with a realistic, hands-on experience. I knew I would be experiencing real-life scenarios rather than theory from the textbook or reading about another person`s experiences.