Beverly Allan, a third-year biology and biotechnology student, reflects on her experience with the Peer Helper program after serving as the SEO’s Community Service-Learning Peer Helper for the past year.
My name is Beverly Allan and this year I had the opportunity to be The Community Service-Learning Peer Helper for the Student Experience Office. This position allowed me to initiate, plan and implement Community Service-Learning initiatives for Carleton University students such as Days of Service. This program provides one day opportunities for students to serve alongside other participants at a community organisation and participate in a reflection period at the end of the day to discuss their experience. This allows students the opportunity to get involved with community organisations, meet great groups of people and reflect on the difference this organisation makes in our community and what steps can be taken in the future.
I have always loved volunteering for the opportunities it grants to meet new people from all walks of life. I feel that it has allowed me to gain new perspectives on important issues and become a more empathetic individual. I began participating in Days of Service in my first year at Carleton University and served at The Otesha Project, which seeks to help Canadians make more sustainable consumption and lifestyle choices and In From the Cold, which serves free, warm suppers to individuals throughout the cold winter months. The enjoyment I received from this involvement motivated me to apply for this Peer Helper role as I wanted to be able to help promote this opportunity to more students at Carleton and allow them to have a fantastic service-learning experience.
As a Peer Helper I was responsible for reaching out to community organisations, introducing the program and organising details for each Day of Service. I managed the online CSL community, kept participants and Team Leaders updated with details and aided in promoting Community Service Learning opportunities to students. This role also allowed me to brainstorm initiatives for the future of the program.
The Peer Helper position allowed me to develop stronger problem-solving skills and confidence in my own abilities. There were several situations which presented themselves that required quickly developing “Plan B’s” in order to assure that everything ran smoothly and every time it worked out, I gained more faith that I would be able to handle the next issue if it were to arise.
I hope that I was able to be a part of the impact this year by presenting opportunities to students to get more involved with Carleton and the Ottawa community through service-learning. I was able to reach out to new organisations and was glad to see Carleton students representing our university in such a positive fashion every time I got fantastic feedback.
The most challenging part was keeping up with all the emails and communication required for implementing the days. Since I was only in the office two days a week, a factor which I am sure many community organizers were not aware of, I had to make a point to check my Peer Helper email account frequently to reply to all the inquiries I received.
I would recommend a Peer Helper position to anyone looking for a great way to get involved as it allows you to work with staff and peer, improve professional skills and gain confidence working with various offices at Carleton. I would encourage students to get involved with Community Service-Learning as it allows you the opportunity to get engaged in a broader community, gain new perspectives and even learn more about yourself.
Submitted by Beverly Allan, a third-year biology and biotechnology student.
For more information on Community Service-Learning at Carleton, please visit carleton.ca/seo/community-service-learning