Volume 96, Issue 20
Wednesday October 2, 2002

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Removing the glass from class

A new initiative by a professor in a media, information and technoculture class is ensuring that students step outside the Western bubble.

The MIT class "Representing Homelessness" is combining theory and practical experience to ensure that students are getting the big picture. In order to complete the course, students must participate in 20 hours of community service, as required by course instructor Amanda Grzyb.

The decision to include community service in the course requirements should be applauded. There is no substitute for experience and community service is a great way to learn the valuable life lessons that can not be taught in a textbook.

The sad part is that, at times, some people have to be forced to volunteer their time for worthy causes. However, does the motivation, whether it be résumé padding or required class hours, really matter? At the end of the day, the result is the same.

For whatever reason someone becomes a volunteer, the value is immeasurable. The influence and positive impact you can have on other individuals is immensely gratifying and beneficial to all those involved.

Between classes, homework and jobs, we often believe we do not have ample time to work in a few good deeds.

Let's face it, if we can make time for bars and movies, we can spare three hours a week to help out those in need.

There are so many different opportunities to help out in any community, from being a Big Brother, to helping in a senior's home or working in a soup kitchen. There's something out there for everyone and no reason not to participate in something you think is a worthy cause.

Some high school students are now required by the provincial government to complete 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. This sets a good precedent, as these students come to university more likely to volunteer in a variety of different capacities.

Universities have often been criticized for their lack of teaching outside of textbooks and theories and, while this initiative is only a small step, it is none the less a step in the right direction. People are getting out of the classroom and stepping into reality – something that students often ignore.

There's a world of community programs that rely on volunteers, some of which can be found this week in the University Community Centre during Volunteer Week. At least take the time to see what these services offer the community and maybe even lend a hand.

Volunteering and community service teach life lessons that, as human beings, we all should learn. It's important to step outside our Western bubble, even if it's only for a few hours every week.

At the very least, it will remind us how lucky we are to be here.





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