March 20, 2019 - 3:00pm
Five Vancouver Island University (VIU) students will have the opportunity to make a difference internationally this spring thanks to the Canadian Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES) program.
“The QES gives our students the opportunity to collaborate with international partners on pressing issues facing coastal communities around the world,” says Jennifer Sills, VIU’s Education Abroad Manager. “These experiences give students the awareness of how their actions impact other parts of the world. We are all global citizens.”
So far, 21 VIU graduate and undergraduate students, and seven Belizean graduate students have participated in the cross-cultural exchange and experiential learning program, which provides financial support so students can collaborate on innovative solutions to the pressing issues facing coastal communities in Canada and around the world. An additional five VIU undergraduate students have been awarded the scholarship funding for 2019 and three international graduate students will be joining VIU in September 2019.
“Through this scholarship program we are also able to host incoming international students from Belize and Tanzania at a graduate program level for full master’s degrees,” says Sills. “This allows us to develop and share research, innovation and best practices in community resilience and sustainability that can be applied both in the Vancouver Island area and in our partner communities in Belize and Tanzania through reciprocal exchange of ideas and knowledge between our scholars.”
Charlynn Jelier, a Global Studies student, will travel to Tanzania to work as a Sustainable Livelihood Development Officer, assisting Cultural Tourism Enterprises (CTE) to develop sustainable livelihood strategies for local communities in coastal areas involved in tourism. CTE’s are enterprises focused on traveler’s engagement with a country or region’s culture.
Rose Williams, who is double majoring in Global Studies and Political Studies, will be working as an Ecotourism Officer with the Women Entrepreneurship Program in Matara, Sri Lanka. The goal of the WEP is to increase the income of self-employed women through business development and micro-financing. Williams will be busy researching tourism needs and opportunities as well as training staff on environmental sustainability.
“I look forward to gaining experience working within an NGO and alongside local communities,” she says. “I’m excited and humbled for this opportunity, both to apply my knowledge and learn from WEP.”
Erin Normandeau, a Tourism Management student, is excited to be working with the Tanzania Tourist Board as a Social Network and Marketing Officer. With a deep-rooted interest in tourism, she is looking forward to exploring responsible tourism growth in Arusha, Tanzania.
“As more people are travelling now than ever before, knowledge of responsible tourism products has become increasingly more important. By expanding the awareness of CTE products, I hope to support an overall goal of promoting sustainable tourism initiatives to encourage a responsible consumption of tourism products,” says Normandeau.
Alex Harte, a Geography student, is applying his passion for community development to work as a Water Sanitation and Management Officer in Matara, Sri Lanka.
“I will be working with the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to address water sanitation, helping develop workshops, monitor water sanitation, write reports, implement strategies for water conservation, provide support and advice for increasing water conservation capacity, and ensuring that women and youth are well-represented and included in our activities,” says Harte. “I am excited to learn about how communities around the world are addressing their own challenges with the resources that they have.”
Geography student Jeffrey Fontaine is looking forward to applying his unique perspective and knowledge from growing up in the small coastal community of Tofino to his work with the Tanzania Tourist Board as an Environmental Conservation Advisor. He will be assisting in the development of eco-friendly development models for local communities and businesses.
The QES program is managed through a unique partnership between Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada and Canadian universities. Since 2017, VIU undergraduate and graduate students have participated in three-month international internships that focus on the theme of Building Resilience in Coastal Communities.
The VIU QES recipients will be starting their internships abroad in May 2019.
Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University