York student Sandra Sukhan (below) is one of the first participants in Students Without Borders, a new program introduced on Canadian campuses by World University Service of Canada (WUSC). The program lets students choose their own adventure — working in Asia, South America or Africa where they can apply their theoretical knowledge in a developing country — for possible academic credit.
Sukhan, a master’s-level student in environmental studies, will be working for two months in Botswana as a marketing and publicity coordinator at Mabogo Dinku Advice Centre for under- and unemployed youth. The centre is a WUSC local partner.
Sukhan hopes to make a positive contribution as well as learn new skills she can apply in Canada. As she prepares to leave, she wonders how her current perspective will change. “Coming from a Western-centric view, what do I think I’m doing in a developing country?” she asks. After two months in the southern African country, she may come home with some answers.
WUSC has selected 20 students to participate in Students Without Borders. They have been placed in Botswana, Malawi and Burkina Faso in Africa and in Peru, where WUSC has established development partners. For a placement fee, students get pre-departure information, an in-country orientation, a visit from WUSC field staff during their placement, access to a 24-hour emergency line and debriefing upon return. The program is flexible and allows students to structure their trips according to their schedules and financial resources, which can include support from their university or college.
“WUSC is targeting Students Without Borders at a new generation of Canadian students whose horizons are global and who want to tackle inequality head on,” says Paul Davidson, executive director of the Ottawa-based development agency. “And it also responds to the desire of Canadian universities and colleges to provide new international learning opportunities for their students.”
When she returns from Africa, Sukhan’s feedback will help WUSC fine-tune the program before the next group of students leaves on placement in the fall.
WUSC is active on over 50 campuses across Canada. Its mission is to foster human development and global understanding through education and training.