UBC Reports
October 16, 1997


Canada's Year of Asia Pacific

Students gain valuable experience by helping

Nearly 200 UBC students may get a ringside seat on history as volunteers for APEC '97.

They are among the 1,250 people who have applied to be volunteers for APEC, an economic forum for the discussion of trade issues that will bring 5,000 delegates from 18 Pacific Rim economies to Vancouver Nov. 19-25.

"The number of applicants who have come forward from UBC is a wonderful reflection of interest in APEC," said Mary MacKillop, manager, volunteer programs at the APEC Canadian Co-ordinating Office.

Student volunteers are drawn from all areas of campus, she said, especially from International Relations, Asian Studies, Political Science and Commerce and Business Administration. One of them is Chris Gorman, a fourth-year Arts student majoring in Political Science and History.

"I've always been interested in international affairs," Gorman says. " I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience history in the making. It will also give me hands-on experience that will be useful if I decide to pursue a career in foreign affairs." During APEC, the volunteers' duties may include crowd control, airport meeting and greeting, staffing phone lines, working at the accreditation centre for photos and identification, other clerical and administrative work and helping out at gala dinners and receptions.

Most APEC events will take place at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, although the leaders will meet for one day at UBC's Museum of Anthropology, Nov. 25.

MacKillop said the volunteer program was one of the ways in which to involve the public, and especially young people, in APEC '97.

"The city has really risen to the occasion," she said.

Volunteers were recruited through the Alma Mater Society's Volunteer Connections program and other post-secondary institutions and high schools throughout the Lower Mainland.

Applicants undergo a screening process similar to that of any other volunteer program, which includes a security check for criminal records and interviews to see how students' interests could be matched with specific duties.

The program has many partners, including Volunteer Vancouver which is participating in interviews.

As well as sharing in the excitement of an important international event, volunteers will be invited to a thank-you reception with Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Due to an overwhelming response, volunteer applications are no longer being accepted.

The next APEC public information meetings at UBC will take place on Nov. 6 at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in room 104 of the Henry Angus Building, 2053 Main Mall.

For more information on APEC, see APEC '97 Update.