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. 49 | No. 5 | May 8, 2003

Agricultural Sciences Grad Studied in Holland, Sweden and Uganda

Serves as career ambassador for her faculty.

By Michelle Cook

Coleen Heemskerk doesn’t have a good head for carrying well water.

The Agricultural Sciences undergraduate discovered her shortcoming during a study trip to Uganda last year when she spent several days with a rural family eager to show her their way of life. That included teaching Heemskerk, 25, how to chase away marauding baboons from their crops, and giving her a 10-lb “trainer” Gerry can to transport water on foot from a community well 45 minutes away.

“The people in the village could carry 20-lb cans on their heads without holding on to them,” Heemskerk recalls. “But I had to use my hands, and I actually tripped and broke my can. I had children following me and laughing because they’d never seen a white person do that kind of work. They told me my head wasn’t flat enough.”

Heemskerk’s introduction to Ugandan life also included visits to a sustainable farm operation, a wild game reserve, a rehab zoo, an orphanage, and meetings with 15 non government organizations and a group of Ugandan university students, one of whom sported bullet scars on her legs -- the result of ongoing civil war in northern Uganda.

For Heemskerk, the eye-opening experiences were all part of coursework for the Global Resource Systems (GRS) program. The undergraduate program lets students specialize in a resource discipline and world region of their choice. Heemskerk opted to focus on international development in Africa and Europe.

She says she was drawn to the program’s international exchange component and flexibility which led her to study in Holland and Sweden. Heemskerk’s trip to Uganda was part of a course she took at the Swedish Agricultural University-SLU.

She says she was struck by the openness and generosity of the people she met in Africa and also saw that the West has a lot to learn about from developing countries sustainable agriculture.

Following her graduation from UBC, Heemskerk hopes to return to Sweden and shift her academic interests from agriculture and international development to graduate work in conflict management. She hopes to do long-term development work in Africa, and eventually work for a UN agency.

Although the global nature of her studies kept Heemskerk away from UBC for two and a half years of her four-year degree, while on campus, she was the volunteer coordinator for the UBC Farm during its start-up year and, last year, she helped out with the Farm’s Salad Bar program for local elementary schools. Heemskerk also served as a career ambassador for her faculty, using her own global experiences to convey to high school students the world of possibilities that Agricultural Sciences studies have to offer.

- - -  

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.