According to the University of Canterbury’s Associate Professor Billy O’Steen, there is 30 years of research to suggest that there are vast benefits for students when engaging with the community during their academic studies. These benefits include learning more about yourself, achieving better grades, being better prepared for professional life, and having a higher chance of getting a job and succeeding at that job.
In recognition of this, the University of Canterbury has established a new Community Engagement Hub – inspired by the actions of the Student Volunteer Army after the earthquakes – to facilitate community engagement ventures for all students – and staff too. To read more about how the Hub was established click here.
Dr O’Steen, who is the Hub Director, says that he considers any external entity to be a community – including businesses, non-profit organisations and even individuals. Therefore, any volunteer project that you may get involved with could be supported by the Community Engagement Hub.
Serving as the shop-front for the initiative is an old shed (pictured above) that was salvaged from the Christchurch Red Zone. The shed will be refurbished into a mobile office and meeting space for students and staff which will be at various locations around the CBD in an effort to connect the University campus with community projects. There are also plans for the mobile office to be re-painted, along with five other salvaged sheds, to feature as part of an art project by local artist Billy Wilson.
Dr O’Steen says that the Hub expects to draw more students – domestic and international – to the University of Canterbury because of our incredible community engagement opportunities. In particular, the course CHCH101: Rebuilding Christchurch – an introduction to community engagement in tertiary studies has attracted over 700 students so far. Through this course students have helped build community gardens, painted murals, collected data for the Christchurch City Council, built structures, and worked with early childhood centres and schools.
So if you want to enhance your tertiary experience and gain invaluable skills, you might want to consider volunteering for a community project. You could start by enrolling in CHCH101 next semester, or joining the Student Volunteer Army. Get involved!