UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 10 | Aug.
1 , 2002
Learning Exchange Popular with Downtown Residents and UBC students
Forging new partnerships, launching new programs.
By Michelle Cook
The first time Barry Monaghan visited the Learning Exchange, he
never expected it would one day lead to a new job. He came because
UBC's storefront office in the Downtown Eastside offered computer
access to people in the community.
Monaghan heard about the Learning Exchange two years ago when he
was a student in Humanities 101, a UBC course designed for Downtown
Eastside residents. Today, Monaghan, 39, can be found behind the
centre's front desk helping others who drop in to use the facility's
resources, including seven computer workstations.
"I never thought when I took that course, that I'd be working
here," Monaghan says. "But I found it a nice, pleasant
place and I just kept coming."
Monaghan went on to take Science 101. Both programs gave him a
chance to sample different topics and see what his strong points
were. They also inspired him to continue studying. He has since
earned his high school equivalency, and completed UBC's Office Information
Technology program. He says that being able to use the Learning
Exchange's computers to practice his new skills was essential to
Monaghan is one of hundreds of downtown residents who have passed
through the doors of the Learning Exchange since it opened at 121
Main St. in October 2000.
As a cornerstone of UBC's commitment to community outreach, the
initiative fosters connections between people at UBC and residents
of the area by offering university resources and expertise, providing
educational opportunities to people working and living there, and
giving UBC students volunteer experience in community organizations.
While the storefront office provides a focal point for students,
faculty, staff and residents, the Learning Exchange's reach extends
much farther. It has forged partnerships with 20 non-profit community
organizations. Its Trek volunteer program has more than doubled
with 100 UBC students now participating in activities ranging from
literacy tutoring and fine arts projects to supporting hot lunch,
recreation and hospice programs.
Starting this fall, six to 10 students will be forming a Leadership
Network to provide peer support for volunteers and build even stronger
links with community groups and partner organizations as part of
the Trek Program. The Learning Exchange will also launch inner-city
partnerships linking groups of students with schools to run recreational,
gardening, literacy, nutrition and other programs.
Last fall, Music 101, a music appreciation course for community
members, was launched. This year, the Learning Exchange will offer
two additional programs. Entrepreneurship 101 will provide a theoretical
understanding of economics as well as the practical skills needed
to be a successful entrepreneur. Advocacy 101 will provide a similar
mix of theoretical and practical knowledge for people who want to
learn about government systems and how to interact successfully
In October 2002, the Learning Exchange is organizing a concert
featuring performers from the community and UBC's School of Music.