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Linda Lam (left), Tanzania 2015

Tanzania service-learning memories from 2015

Linda Lam was involved with service-learning programs throughout her undergraduate studies.

October 16, 2015 — 

Students at the University of Manitoba are given the opportunity to explore the world while experiencing their education through the international service-learning programs.

Linda Lam, who will be graduating in October with a Bachelor’s of Science Honours (Genetics), was involved with service-learning programs throughout her undergraduate studies. She shares some thoughts about the impact that service-learning has had on her and how she planned for a five-week trip to Tanzania.

What impact have your service-learning experiences had on you?

Service-learning has taught me how to think critically about social change, reflect on my experiences and thoughts in a productive manner, and it has given me tools that I can use to foster my own growth in the future.

Why Tanzania?

I chose the Tanzania Service-Learning because of my interest in global/public health, in particular on how culture, living conditions and education affect health. The Tanzania trip allowed me the opportunity to promote health and share information that was preventative in nature. In addition to our time in the classrooms, site visits to villages and farms gave me greater insight on living conditions and other social factors. The holistic take on health was what ultimately made me choose Tanzania.

How did you plan for the experience?

From my first year at university I had my heart set on the Tanzania Service-Learning experience but I knew that I wasn’t ready for this program just yet.

If I wanted to make the experience as meaningful as possible, I knew that I had to develop my facilitation skills, my intercultural competency skills and have a better understanding of how socioeconomic factors affect individuals. Alongside my studies, I participated in local service-learning opportunities that were free and flexible enough to fit into my busy schedule.

How did you save up financially?

I worked many part-time jobs to save up money. In the summer between my third and fourth year of university I worked in a lab under an Undergraduate Research Award in addition to working in Student Life as the assistant for PRAXIS and Alternative Reading Week Winnipeg. I continued working in Student Life throughout my fourth year. This gave me the opportunity to simultaneously save up money and continue developing my skills. In my fourth year I finally applied for the Tanzania Service-Learning program.

Linda Lam (left) from Tanzania 2015

What did you do in Tanzania?

The NGO Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR) hosted us in Tanzania where we facilitated discussions on gender equality, health and leadership over a four-week period in two secondary schools. We explored topics such as gender roles, abuse, puberty, and sexual health. CPAR also brought us on field visits to local farms and communities that they worked with to show us how they have made an impact.

Even though I had spent the last couple of years developing the skills that I needed for the program the trip itself wasn’t easy, it challenged me in ways that I wasn’t prepared for. For example, communicating across a language barrier was more difficult and hindering than I anticipated.

Based on your experience, what advice would you give to other students?

Go find something you enjoy and are passionate about and make time in your schedule for it. And if you don’t know what that thing is, well, then you should cast a very wide net and try anything that sounds even slightly interesting. If you can’t afford an opportunity at the very moment, don’t give up on it; instead, choose to work towards it.

To find out more about service-learning at the University of Manitoba or to apply for a local or international service-learning opportunity, visit the Service-Learning website.

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