Rodny Said, a second-year Waterloo Lutheran Seminary (WLS) student, has found his calling when it comes to learning and helping others.
Said is enrolled in the Christian Studies and Global Citizenship program, offered by WLS, a federated college of Laurier. He is a participant – and advocate – of community service-learning (CSL) courses offered throughout the university.
CSL courses combine academic content with a service-learning placement at a local organization, allowing students to fuse classroom learning with hands-on experience. Critical reflection and analysis are required components of CSL courses, which students share with their classmates, professors, and community partners, creating a holistic learning experience.
Said’s first CSL course, Christian Faith and Global Citizenship (GC102), allowed him to reflect on how he could make the most of a service-learning placement.
“Before I chose an organization to work with, I thought about my existing skill set and how that could allow me to help others,” says Said. “I speak Arabic, which is a skill that could be applied to helping refugees.”
Speaking Arabic led Said to a placement with the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support (MCRS). A community organization based in Kitchener, MCRS provides settlement support and resources to refugee claimants and their families. Said acts as an Arabic translator for MCRS staff working with refugees. In this role, he interprets legal documents, translates housing needs, and assists with registering children in school.
Said attributes his compassion for refugees to his childhood in Jerusalem, a city familiar with migrant people. While helping refugee families in Waterloo region is extremely gratifying for him, it can be a painful reminder of the struggles faced by fleeing families.
“At times, I have felt powerless – but I still want to help,” he says.
Said has continued to help refugees with MCRS through the placement component of his second CSL course, Doing Justice and Christian Social Ethics Today (GC203). Said says he would welcome the opportunity to work with the Syrian refugees who are settling in Waterloo region.
CSL courses are offered in a variety of programs at Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses. Previous CSL course offerings include those in psychology, human rights and human diversity, youth and children’s studies, business, kinesiology, global studies, history, and geography, with new courses in development. Service-Learning placements are an academic requirement of the course and can vary according to subject or discipline. Opportunities at social profit agencies, schools, seniors’ and community centres are traditional placement options. Some CSL courses require research projects instead of placements.
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