Brock students participate in Alternative Reading Week

Brock University

While some Brock students were enjoying a relaxing reading week, some were trying to make a difference in the lives of others by participating in the Alternative Reading Week programs run by Brock. There were three programs held last week, a trip to Peru, a trip to South Carolina and a local program.

The Peru trip ran from February 15 to February 25. This year, 22 students went on the Peru trip where they spent the week either teaching English to children of varying ages or participating in a  medical mission with Brock Solidarity Experiences Abroad. The medical mission was geared towards students pursuing careers in the healthcare field.

The South Carolina trip afforded students the opportunity to travel to Sumter, South Carolina to help the local community there build a house for a family in need with Habitat for Humanity. On February 17, 12 students embarked on their journey to South Carolina. During those seven days, students would work on the house for “eight hours and then would have dinner at a community church or through a community sponsor and finish the day with reflection on the day,” said Rebecca Balyk, a participant on the South Carolina trip. Balyk commented that all of the work that was done on the house was very achievable, and required no experience.

“It has been such an incredible experience, the people here are so nice and amazing and there is such an amazing sense of community that is so welcoming. I would definitely want to do it again next year. It is such a unique opportunity to experience something this incredible and I never would of [sic] thought I would learn so much. I would definitely recommend that other students take advantage of opportunities like this at Brock. You get to meet people from other programs and years and you become so close working as team,” said Balyk.

Ben Johnson, another participant on the South Carolina trip, echoed Balyk’s sentiments. “This trip has opened my eyes to the tremendous life-changing opportunities available through volunteering. I never knew how much I could gain for myself while also giving back, and I would not trade this experience for another. I strongly recommend that students look into these trips for reading week.”

On Family Day, 15 students who remained in the Niagara Region for reading week also gathered to do some good. Students in the local program went to Heartland Forest to help prepare for their Winterfest event. The event is an educational and family friendly event that had a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

On February 24, another local event was held, the Coldest Night of the Year walk. The walk took place in downtown St. Catharines and was two, five or 10 kilometres long. It served to raise money for Start Me Up Niagara, which helps people who are going through major life struggles such as homelessness, unemployment, addictions, and mental illness.

“These trips are intended to provide students with the opportunity to learn about the culture in various different communities, as well as develop skills such as teamwork, intercultural communication, and community development, that are all very transferable and applicable across many fields. Students will also learn about the importance and benefits of volunteerism, and reflect on their experiences for personal, and professional development,” said Megan Brown, Community Engagement Coordinator for Student Life and Community Experience. As some of the trips are aimed towards certain career paths, they are also invaluable in assuring participants that they have chosen the right career. “The missions to Peru provide hands on experience in the field, specifically for education and health/medical bound students,” Brown added.

Fortunately, for those of that were not able to go on any of the trips this year, all the programs run annually.

For more information or to get involved next year you can contact Student Life at studentlife@brocku.ca.

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