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Scholarship program takes students to Ghana for community development

Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarships winners work with community rehabilitation program on internship abroad


From left, Heather Lee; Simone Atiktilime, president of the Community-based Rehabilitation Program (CBR); Amy Bruce and Rolland, secretary, CBR. Lee and Bruce are holding hand-engraved gourds which are gifts from Atiktilime.

By Susan L. Blanchard

When two University of Calgary students won the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES), they were thrilled. Amy Bruce and Heather Lee had taken a class together but didn't know that they were also going to travel and learn together through development work with the Community Based Rehabilitation Program (CBR) in Sandema, Ghana.

Both students are taking development studies in the Faculty of Arts. Bruce worked on funding proposals for a new disability resource centre and a maternal health clinic.

“These were fantastic learning opportunities, both for proposal writing and experiencing the work culture in Ghana,” she explains. “I learned that community development does not need to involve massive sums of money, just a passionate group of individuals who know and love their town."

Lee adds, "All the people we met in Ghana were genuine and heartwarming. They never failed to inspire me, and their stories of perseverance and love will stay with me for life." 

At a presentation on Nov. 18 at the CIBC Hub Room of the Rozsa Centre on campus Lee and Bruce shared their experience on how they applied for the scholarship and juggled internship responsibilities and self-directed courses. They also showed photographs, told stories and answered questions about their personal and professional gains working for CBR and engaging the local community in Sandema.

The objective of the QES program is to activate a dynamic community of young global leaders across the Commonwealth to create lasting impact — both locally and globally — through cross-cultural exchanges. The scholarship program runs until 2018 and is funded by the Community Foundations of Canada with technical support from Universities Canada.

The program is in line with the University of Calgary's Eyes High strategy and calls students from arts, nursing and engineering to tackle issues facing global health, education, disaster risk resilience and development.

"This program is a tremendous opportunity for our students to gain international development experience and hone their leadership skills,” says Janaka Ruwanpura, vice-provost (international). “It is also a great way for us to deliver on our international strategy.”

The international strategy aims to enhance the diversity of students on campus, improve cross-cultural competencies, advance educational and research partnerships, and boost international development efforts.

For more information about the QES program, contact University of Calgary International at solis@ucalgary.ca or (403) 220-7078.