By Kara Blizzard
Community Service Learning (CSL) comes in a variety of forms, as Augustana student Odessa Sherbanik has discovered. Odessa is a third year Global and Development Studies student with a minor in economics. The variety of hands-on opportunities that CSL provides appeals to her.
In 2008 Odessa participated in the Puebla-Alberta Community Service Exchange (PACSE), which involves a half semester in rural Mexico, followed by a half semester in rural Alberta. She “went on PACSE to see if [global development] was in fact something I wanted to do, and I learned that it was something I was capable of doing, and also something that I enjoy… Now I feel like I have practical experience that I can put on a resume.”
This school year, Odessa is getting more hands-on community service experience as part of a two-semester CSL course. She is working on Camrose’s Municipal Sustainability Plan (MSP), which in Odessa’s case involves doing research on health and social aspects of Camrose. Her task is to try to “develop the current reality of Camrose, which means what’s going on right now, and then from there what can be done in the future—what’s going well, what needs improvement.” Her research will provide information to help with future city planning.
In contrast with many types of CSL, the MSP project is more research-oriented, but it still centres on interaction with community members. In the preliminary stages of her research, Odessa has had the opportunity to “meet with a lot of organizations and see what kind of services they provide to Camrose.” She has interviewed Camrose residents and employees about topics like social services and drug issues. So far, Odessa’s activities have included attending an Interagency Meeting, and talking with community members like the volunteer coordinator for Camrose, the Police Chief, and the Bethany Group. Odessa said, “Even though I live in the Camrose area I don’t necessarily know about all the stuff that goes on here,” so working on the MSP has been a positive experience so far.
For the second semester of her project, Odessa will go out into the community and research a specific topic in the area of health and social services. She is excited about “the idea that what I’m doing will potentially have an impact on this community and the lives of people who live in it.”
For more information about CSL at Augustana, visit http://www.augustana.ualberta.ca/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/csl.