UWS students take on challenging community development projects

University of Western Sydney students will make their mark on the world and help communities in need this summer, as part of a partnership with Youth Challenge Australia (YCA).

A group of 17 students have been awarded a 'Service Learning Grant' from UWS, which provides $2000 toward the cost of participating in one of YCA's community development projects.

Youth Challenge Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that sends volunteers to work in Latin America, the Pacific, Asia and Indigenous communities in Australia.

While their classmates are taking a break during the summer holidays, the UWS students will be spending up to two months working on projects that aim to strengthen local tourism, raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, support children living in orphanages, and improve school facilities in developing countries.

Dr Diana Whitton, from the UWS School of Education, says the University offered the Service Learning Grants to provide financial assistance to the students, who each have such a strong desire to help people in need.

"These inspiring students will live and work in a foreign and unfamiliar place, away from their family and friends. They will also have the added challenges of working on difficult projects, often in locations with no running water or electricity," says Dr Whitton.

"The students will certainly be out of their comfort zones, but it will also be the experience of a lifetime."

Jo Thompson, the Executive Director of YCA, says students participating in the UWS-YCA program will come away with a much better appreciation of how people who are less fortunate live and also with a clearer idea of what they would like to do with their lives.

"In addition to the sense of satisfaction our participants gain from seeing their good work in action, they have the opportunity to develop valuable leadership and cross cultural skills and to explore new boundaries," says Ms Thompson.

Dr Whitton says service learning projects are a valuable component of tertiary education that prepares students for the real world, opens their minds to new experiences, and develops their sense of civic responsibility.

Many of the students will be making further use of their service learning projects, by enrolling in the University's 'Learning through Community Service' (LCS) unit of study and allowing their adventures to contribute directly to the completion of their UWS degree.


8 November 2011

Contact: Danielle Roddick, Senior Media Officer

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