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May 8, 2015

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A group of education professionals and students will join Wilfrid Laurier University Professor Steve Sider as he travels to Haiti May 10 to initiate a social media project that aims to showcase the educational experience of university students in Haiti and Canada.

Sider, associate professor in the Faculty of Education, will be teaming up with five Laurier students to film several short videos focused on what it means to be a university student in Haitian and Canadian contexts. The videos will showcase Haitian and Laurier students discussing their studies, what they do in the summer, their ambitions and hopes for the future, and what their family life looks like.

The project is intended to shed light on the teaching and learning taking place in different cultures.

“It’s important that students listen and discern how others learn in different communities,” said Sider. “Learning about different cultures helps us become more aware of alternative teaching methods and makes us more adaptable. We want to engage our education students to have a greater sense of intercultural learning and have them teach their own students with a global perspective.”

The group will share the short videos with other Laurier education students in the fall. Sider hopes that the experience can lead to long-term relationships between Laurier and Haitian students by using social media to connect.

One component of the group, consisting of two Laurier business students and lecturer Roopa Reddy, will be travelling to Haiti as part of ENACTUS Laurier – an organization that promotes student leaders in social entrepreneurship. This team has been working with a local Haitian partner to re-design a microfinance program for women in the area, aiming to incorporate relevant business skills in training and tracking methods. While in Haiti, the ENACTUS team will be consulting with the local partner organization, meeting with their clients and learning about the realities the women face as small business owners in a developing country.

The trip is part of an ongoing partnership that Laurier has established in Northern Haiti over the last 10 years.

Sider has travelled to Haiti with Bachelor of Education students in the past to learn and teach in Haitian schools. In 2011, he launched the Digital Mentoring Project, which provides school principals in Haiti with BlackBerry smartphones to facilitate communication with their local and international counterparts.


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