Organizations and activists alike, promoting their own causes from around the world converged on Laurier Brantford’s campus to introduce to students the opportunities to make a difference worldwide. The event spanned a week, lasting from February 4th until the 8th.
“It’s supposed to encourage students to get involved, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of opportunities to get involved in the world,” said Kathy Rose, Laurier Brantford’s Global Engagement coordinator.
For the first time in its history, Laurier hosted International Development Week. This year’s theme goes by the phrase, “I Am Making a Difference,” as it is intended to encourage students to become more aware of the issues that are beyond the borders of the campus, and their country. The program’s lineup for the week included an Indigenous art sale, a Vow of Silence, international food fair and an open house for the newly developed Global Engagement Centre in the Research and Academic Centre East wing.
While the event’s activities were centered on encouraging students to get involved and become more aware of the world outside of North America, it also served as a window for faculty and staff at the university to take part.
“We tried to choose some events that would be appropriate for faculty, like an introduction to conducting research internationally,” Rose said.
International Development Week functions as the second part of the international awareness program series, preceded by International Education Week in the fall of 2012. Acting as the complimentary program to the fall one, this week also coincides with Black History Month, a February observance. To accentuate this, the lineup also included an African-Canadian presence discussion.
Rose and her colleague, Melissa DiLeo, the International Student Advisor for the campus, recently opened the global engagement centre and seized this week’s event as an opportunity to introduce students to the opening of the department.
Rose commented, “We had our own objective to celebrate and introduce the opening of the Global Engagement Centre and to define and promote the Global Engagement Centre’s purpose and function through global and community participation.”
The development week program is a creation of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Rose explains, “Most universities, at some point, will apply for CIDA funding for international development projects. That’s why this kind of program is generally run through universities.”
CIDA’s objectives are generalized as an “effort to help people living in poverty,” working with internal government departments to accomplish this task. Their mission stretches all over the globe, extending their hand to countries that have been undergoing more difficult times like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sudan and Haiti among a total of 20. CIDA lists its “priority themes” as increasing food security, ensuring successful futures for the youth in target countries and helping stimulate economic growth.
With issues springing up constantly, CIDA will continue its mission all over the world. As for the Global Engagement Centre, Kathy Rose and Melissa DiLeo will continue their own mission of spreading awareness within the world of Laurier Brantford.