UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 4 | Feb. 21, 2002

Students team up for inner city service project

Guelph, UBC students join to help community gardens

by Michelle Cook staff writer

A group of UBC students took 11 of their counterparts from the University of Guelph to the Downtown Eastside to do some gardening this week as part of an unusual exchange project designed to show participants from both institutions that there's more to the community than its gritty reputation.

The UBC Learning Exchange -University of Guelph Urban Agriculture Project is the first-ever exchange of its kind between two Canadian universities.

The goal of the five-day pilot was to help students from various academic disciplines see past some of the common stereotypes of the inner city by getting their hands dirty, literally, doing community service work.

"Some portrayals have truth to them but they tend to ignore the strength and vitality that these communities also have," says Learning Exchange director Margo Fryer. "We wanted students to see the `other' side of the Downtown Eastside."

To do that, the UBC-Guelph group volunteered to help the Strathcona Community Gardens refurbish its compost system so that it can help another group in the community, the Quest Outreach Society, dispose of a large portion of its waste. Quest, a large food redistribution project, currently pays almost $10,000 a year to dispose of its unusable food donations.

Through their efforts to support Strathcona's composting operation, the students were not only helping Quest save money, but also contributing to efforts to create a larger, more comprehensive composting project in the neighbourhood. Fryer brought back the idea for the exchange from a meeting in Antigonish, N.S. last May for Canadian universities introducing community service learning into their programs.

When a Guelph University representative expressed interest in bringing students to the Downtown Eastside, Fryer saw an opportunity for both schools to participate in educational activities related to grassroots community development.

Community service learning incorporates community volunteer activities into academic programs so that students can make connections between theory and practice, and enrich their academic learning by seeing how it can be applied, Fryer explains.

While the concept has been popular in the United States for some time, Canadian universities have only recently begun to adopt it.

"We're hoping that by generating interest in this kind of community-based learning, more faculty members will integrate service volunteer opportunities into their course work," Fryer says.

She hopes the UBC students will be able to make a reciprocal visit to Guelph and that this week's pilot spurs ongoing community service exchanges with other Canadian universities as well as international institutions.

Other activities scheduled for the exchange included a discussion with representatives from the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, a workshop on local community development and guided tour of the UBC Farm.

The Learning Exchange is part of the commitment to community outreach found in Trek 2000, the university's vision statement.

It offers UBC's resources and expertise to the Downtown Eastside community, provides educational opportunities to people who live and work in the neighbourhood, and gives UBC students first-hand volunteer experience in community organizations.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.