Leave for Change Volunteers Prepare to Travel

Blog follows U of G staff and faculty around the world

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The traffic in Accra, Ghana, made a big impression on Prof. Jacqueline Murray when she visited the city in 2010 as a participant in Uniterra’s Leave for Change program. To find out how she handles the taxi drivers “yelling and honking and driving on the shoulder” during her second visit to Accra, follow her blog on the Human Resources website.

Over the next eight months, eight University of Guelph staff and faculty will spend their vacation time volunteering in a developing country as part of the Leave for Change program. And the Department of Human Resources will chart their experiences through a newly launched Leave for Change blog.

History professor Jacqueline Murray, director of the first-year seminar program, is already blogging from Accra, Ghana, where she is working with the ministry of education until July 22 as an advisor on organizational development. It’s her second Leave for Change experience in Accra; she spent three weeks there in 2010 translating legislation about the rights of children for the Ghanian NGO Childs Rights International.

The other U of G participants this year are: Tania Framst, executive assistant to the vice-president (finance and administration); Patti Goodman, program manager, Kemptville Campus; Verne Harrison, gallery co-ordinator, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre; Susan Kelner, program co-ordinator, Ridgetown Campus; Luke Ramsahoi, supervisor of dairy analysis, Laboratory Services; Nicole Tessier, supervisor in student and alumni services, Campus d’Alfred; and Prof. Clive Thomson, director of the School of Languages and Literatures.

With these participants, U of G has sent 37 staff and faculty on volunteer placements with Leave for Change; that’s 10 per cent of all Leave for Change volunteers since the beginning of the program. They have worked, or will be working this year, in seven different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and count more than 27 months of volunteer time.

U of G staff and faculty celebrate Leave for Change at a May 16 reception.

These statistics were shared by Leave for Change director Agnès van’t Bosch when she visited the Guelph campus in May to celebrate the University’s ongoing commitment to the program. Guelph was the first university to partner with Leave for Change and still sends the largest number of volunteers.

Martha Harley, U of G’s assistant vice-president (human resources), noted that these stats do not include the many hours U of G volunteers have spent making presentations, curating photo exhibitions, promoting fair trade products and writing articles about their experiences.

U of G employees apply through human resources and their skills are matched to organizations in developing countries through Uniterra, a joint initiative of World University Service of Canada and the Centre for International Studies and Co-operation.

“Leave for Change offers an opportunity for staff and faculty to do their part in building a better planet by contributing their skills and knowledge in communities where they can really make a difference,” says Harley. “We are so proud of this program and the contribution staff and faculty have made since it launched at the University in 2007.”

2012/2013 Leave for Change Placements

Jacqueline Murray: organizational development advisor, Ministry of Education, Accra, Ghana, June 24 to July 22.

Clive Thomson: student counselling advisor, Binh Thuan Community College, Phan Thiet City, Vietnam, July 21 to Aug. 12.

Susan Kelner: adult education curriculum development advisor, Ministry of Education, Accra, Ghana, July 22 to Aug. 12.

Verne Harrison: library management advisor at North Thang Long Economic Technical College, Hanoi, Vietnam, Aug. 4 to 26.

Luke Ramsahoi: production quality advisor, Lalitput District Milk Producer’s Cooperative Union, Lalitput, Nepal, September.

Tania Framst: program advisor to Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources, Kathmandu, Nepal, Sept. 23 to Oct. 13.

Patti Goodman: needs assessment advisor at HaiPhong Community College, HaiPhong Province, Vietnam, October/November.

Nicole Tessier: journalist writing advisor, L’association Solidarité et Entraide Mutuelle au Sahel, Yako, Burkino Faso, Nov. 10 to Dec. 2.