After Matt Silva graduated from Carleton University with a political science degree last year, he wasn’t sure what his next step was going to be.
So he decided to apply for a volunteer internship with Students Without Borders, an initiative of the World University Service of Canada.
Since it began in 2005, SWB has placed more than 350 students from more than 50 Canadian post-secondary institutions in countries like Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Peru, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Students work and receive credits in programs related to health, social work, business administration and environment studies.
Silva went to Lima, Peru for four months last summer, working with the Canadian International Development Agency.
Part of his duties involved going over the paperwork to ensure the projects were aligned with CIDA’s goals, then visiting project sites to ensure the projects were moving forwards as promised.
After 10 years of working as a quality assurance tester in the financial services-software field, Gina Mathew returned to school to prepare for a second career in community work.
In 2009, during her second year as a student in the community work program at Toronto’s George Brown College, Mathew volunteered with Students Without Borders in Accra, Ghana as a way of combining her interest in international development and global studies with her education.
In Ghana, Mathew spent eight weeks working as a project assistant with Theatre for Change, a NGO that works with youth at risk of HIV infection. The experience helped her gain insight into the field of HIV/AIDS support and taught her how to develop a two-year project. “The work experience was tremendous,” said Mathew. “It has its bumpy moments, but I learned a lot about the social (and) cultural aspects of the country and how this plays on the issue of HIV/AIDS.”
Spojmai Isaqzoy wanted to do humanitarian work after she graduated with a degree in biopharmacy from the University of Ottawa.
After doing some research, she applied for an internship with SWB because the World University Service of Canada had a good reputation for training students and looking after them while in another country.
For her internship, Isaqzoy went to Gaborone, Botswana where she worked as a support worker with the Cancer Association of Botswana.
“Three months might seem like a lot, but when you are actually there and you want to do something, it’s a really short amount of time,” said Isaqzoy. “At the end of it, I understood that it’s not in the result of something that we see success. It’s in the progress of it.”