During my first few years in the International Development Studies program, I gained a keen interest in community development, global responses to crises, and faith-based development. When it came to my experiential learning placement for INTD3107 (Experiential Learning Canada), I was drawn to a charity organization called Islamic Relief Canada, and took an active role in their Fund Development Team for Nova Scotia. I had the opportunity to be a part of both a local and national response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis by planning fundraisers, leading awareness campaigns, and meeting new families in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).
Through application, my experiential learning placement allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for concepts I had learned in the classroom. Through this opportunity, I learned how a non-governmental organization operates, what faith-based approaches to development entail, and how faith can facilitate community-centered and tailored initiatives. Experiential learning bridged the gap between class and field, and between theory and practice.
Joining a charity organization as part of a course curriculum not only helped me acquire knowledge, but also allowed me to develop tangible and transferable skills. Through planning events, communicating with others, and collaborating on projects cross-provincially and internationally, I gained valuable skills in time management, leadership, organization, and conflict resolution. Experiential learning provides a unique opportunity for personal growth and development.
Volunteering with charities and community projects has always been a big part of my life. However, it was not until INTD3107 that I had the opportunity to critically assess and analyze the impact of volunteerism in communities. I began to wonder whether volunteering abroad was the only way of getting involved with development projects, and what we could do locally for global development issues. INTD 3107 exposed me to the dynamic relationship between global and local development and the ethical dilemmas involved with some international volunteer abroad trips. My unique experience with the Syrian refugee response taught me how to engage with other cultures and gave me an opportunity to work on global development projects locally.
INTD 3107 is a very unique opportunity that allows students to gain first-hand experience in development work and to develop transferable skills. Experiential learning has shaped my view on global development and has cemented my ambition to pursue development work in the future.