Nov. 29, 2004: Making the world a better place

      November 29, 2004
      Contact: Cam Sylvester
      Tel: 604.986.1911, local 2463

      (NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C.)—All they really want to do is make the world a better place to live — and that’s a good thing!

      North Shore teens James Haga and Caity Sackeroff are currently enrolled in Capilano College’s Global Stewardship program where they’re enjoying what they consider to be the best of two worlds — volunteering and learning.

      “I can be a full-time student and volunteer both at the same time,” said Sackeroff, who has been volunteering since she was in Grade 8 at Handsworth Secondary. “Plus, the program offers opportunities to work abroad through a work placement, so I can take time off and go and work for a month and not lose my place in the class.

      With job availability in the volunteer sector growing at a tremendous rate, the time has never been better for the GSP, which prepares students with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to work in this area. With 60,000 non-profits in Canada, these organizations need skilled people. According to the Canadian Policy Research Network, there are 900,000 paid jobs in the Canadian non-profit sector alone.

      “The program is in its first year and already these students are making a significant impact in the city and overseas,” says program coordinator, Cam Sylvester. “For example, four of the students just completed a fundraiser for HUGGS (Helping Underprivileged Girls and Guys Go to School), a small NGO situated in North Vancouver that works to send kids in India to high school and university. This was outside of the requirement of the program.”

      Both Sackeroff and Haga were involved in this particular endeavour. Other students have joined forces with the Canadian Red Cross to run a film series on Columbia as a way to raise money for the organization.

      “We will be working on a conference with Amnesty International in May to look at the issue of small arms trade,” Sylvester continued. “And, we are co-sponsoring with Corpus Christi College at the University of British Columbia a conference on the illegal trade in women and children.”

      Each year, 35 people ages 18-35 with previous volunteer experience will be selected for the innovative program. This small group will study politics, history, geography, economics, languages and literature as a means to understanding today’s global forces at play. They will also take hands-on courses in leadership, management, communications, teamwork and business computing. Graduates will be provided with an associate of arts degree, which is transferable to year three of any bachelor of arts degree program.

      “By taking both liberal arts and business courses, students will learn about the challenges facing not-for-profits in a globalizing world and develop plans of action to address those challenges,” Sylvester says. “Students will also get an education beyond the classroom through two volunteer experiences at non-governmental or charitable organizations locally or overseas.”

      Visiting lecturers are an important component of the program and many of the students are really benefiting from the vast experiences of these guests.

      “We take part in seminars that are an amazing opportunity to meet people doing exactly what I want to do,” Sackeroff said. “Proposal writing, fundraising, approaching the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for grants, they’re an integral part of working in an NGO and we’re learning from the pros how to do these types of things. I really couldn’t be in a better place right now.”

      That’s quite a statement considering that the 19-year-old hasn’t been home long since a seven month volunteering stint for Canada World Youth. As part of the program, Sackeroff spent three and a half months in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, and then traveled across the world to the east coast of Borneo. There she worked for another three and a half months on a variety of community education projects, such as paving roads, painting, and organizing house numbers so that people could get their mail.

      “I returned last March and knew that I needed to continue going to school,” she said. “I heard about the GSP and thought it would be a way to further pursue what I was interested in.”

      Her classmate, 18-year-old Argyle grad James Haga, is also no stranger to making a difference in people’s lives. For the past two years he has been volunteering at Educo Adventure School near 100 Mile House in British Columbia. Before returning to the school as a summer volunteer, Haga had spent three consecutive summers enrolled in the wilderness classroom. It’s a program where participants are encouraged to set goals, solve problems and make choices while sustaining a positive attitude. He has brought the life skills he learned there with him to the program and sees the challenges life presents as opportunities, rather than obstacles.

      “It encouraged me even more to take the GSP,” he said. Meeting people from the other side of the world and seeing that we all have common goals was really inspiring.”

      Haga’s key interests are similar to Sackeroff’s in that they both want to try and help as many people as they can.

      “This is a common theme with everyone who is taking the program,” he explained. “I have a key interest in international politics and finding out how countries work. The program is great because these are the types of things you learn in the classroom as well as in seminars. It’s there that we get to meet people working in those areas and it gives us a global perspective on how things are unfolding. More importantly, we get to meet people doing what we want to do.

      Haga also enjoys the instructors who have years of combined experience working with NGOs.

      “The instructors couldn’t be better,” he added. “They go further than they have to and are as excited about the program as we are. They are really accessible and are becoming friends.”

      Haga’s future plans include continuing his education, possibly at the University of Calgary.

      “After I complete the diploma program, I’ll go to university and take international relations or something similar,” he said. “But after talking to a lot of my friends at university, they say they like their campus life, but they don’t really like their schooling. They say it’s not interactive enough and that they feel just like a number. Here at Cap I’m meeting people and developing personal relationships, which is really important to me. So I’m really happy that I came here first before going on to university.”

      Sackeroff has similar plans. “When I’m done, I’m guessing that I’ll want to work abroad in an internship, but I also want to continue my education with an international perspective,” she said.

      Given the history of these two remarkable students, it’s no surprise how they’ll be spending their Christmas vacation.

      “I’ll be volunteering with my mom at one of the soup kitchens over the holidays,” Haga explained.

      “I’m volunteering with 10,000 Villages over Christmas,” said Sackeroff. “It’s a store that sells only fair traded goods.”

      With people such as these coming up through the ranks, it’s comforting to know that our world is in such capable and compassionate hands.

      The Global Stewardship program will be holding an information session on Tuesday, December 6 at 7 p.m. in the Birch building, room 161 at the North Vancouver campus located at 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver, B.C.


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      For more information on the Global Stewardship program, contact Cam Sylvester at 604.986.1911, local 2463.