High school students from across Nova Scotia will have opportunity to learn about themselves and their leadership abilities when they converge on the StFX campus May 17-20 as the Nova Scotia Secondary Schools’ Association (NSSSA) hosts its annual provincial conference.
It’s a student-led conference all about youth potential and discovery.
And conference co-chairs Katelyn Libbus of Sydney, NS, and Patrick Wallace of Antigonish, NS, both first year StFX students, say along with a focus on learning, the conference will be a lot of fun—a weekend filled with energy and positivity.
“They will be learning about all aspects of leadership,” Mr. Wallace says.
Students will take part in eight skill-building sessions that will focus on topics from personal leadership to communication.
The conference, open to anyone in Grades 9-12 in Nova Scotia high schools, will also feature three keynote speakers, as well as a talent show and a dance.NSSSA-RISE-UP-MyStFX.jpg
The theme of the 2018 NSSSA provincial conference is ‘Rise Up,’ a theme of perseverance to help give students the determination to overcome obstacles, to know that even when life knocks them down, they can rise up and succeed.
“No matter what you do in life, you’ll always face challenges, you’ve always got to rise up,” Ms. Libbus says. “We want to teach people it’s okay to fail, that there will always be challenges, and to rise up.”
NSSSA president Zac Foran, a Grade 12 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, says a goal of NSSSA, a provincial student-run leadership organization, is to host such conferences and help students build and develop their skills as leaders.
“The skills you learn at NSSSA, you get to see these skills shine,” he says, noting he’s seen the skills he’s learned at previous conferences be beneficial in school and in his work place. “Leadership is applicable in many aspects of life.”
“It’s building blocks for getting involved with your school and your community,” Mr. Wallace says.
While students are learning these skills, they’re doing so in a positive and fun environment, Ms. Libbus says.
It’s a very social event, they say.
Mr. Wallace says everyone comes with the idea of learning new things, having fun and enhancing their leadership skills.
“You meet a lot of new people, and you meet a lot of new friends,” he says.
“If you’re shy or scared, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll become comfortable. There are so many like-minded people,” Ms. Libbus says.
Along with the chance to meet new people, one of the benefits to attending the NSSSA conference is developing self-confidence, which carries on long after the conference has ended, Mr. Foran says.
Ms. Libbus encourages any students interested or considering attending, to do so. “It’s never too late for students to come try it, even if they’re in Grade 12 and haven’t attended before. You won’t regret it.”
The NSSSA provincial conference has been hosted on the StFX campus for the last number of years, and they say it’s been a great venue to host the event.
TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
Early bird registration is $285 before March 23, and $310 after March 23 to April 20, when registration closes.
For more information on the conference or to register, please see http://www.nsssa.ca/riseup2018/
That’s what a group of StFX students and faculty leaders are poised to experience this coming week as they begin Immersion Service Learning placements that range from visiting important WWII and Holocaust sites in Europe to working in a cloud forest community in Ecuador.
Thirty-five students will travel over the February Reading Week break to Poland and Germany, Ecuador, Guatemala, L’Arche Ottawa and Peru while a further 10 students will travel to Belize in late April. In addition, a credit course and immersion experience is being offered in Ghana from May to July.
Service Learning, pioneered in Canada at StFX in 1996, blends hands-on opportunities and academic study with community service. Immersion experiences connect theory with experience by living and working alongside different cultural communities in another culture in national and international locations.
Fourth year anthropology student Meaghan Landry will take part in the Germany and Poland experience where participants will journey through the events of the Holocaust and WWII, including spending a few days at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. The service component of the trip will focus largely on the remembrance of victims and the telling of their stories.
“I believe that I am most excited to hear firsthand the stories of the victims and to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This is a place I have read about in countless books and seen in many documentaries. I believe that visiting a site of such devastation, yet of such importance, will be a truly moving experience. I will be creating a podcast during my time there that will be aired on Social Justice Radio the week after I get back, so I am looking forward to having a platform where the voices of victims and their loved ones can be heard.”
This is Ms. Landry’s third Immersion Service Learning trip. She participated in the Grenada trip in her second year and the Guatemala experience in her third year.
“They were both such wonderful, life-changing experiences that I thought why stop there? The Immersion Service Learning Program offers bursaries and fundraising ideas that have made these trips affordable and possible.”
As a socio-cultural anthropology major, she says she has a passion for learning about other cultures, both locally and internationally.
“There is always a way to relate one's experience back to their field of study,” she says. “It is an opportunity to explore one's passions and interests, along with discovering one's likes and dislikes. I have done assignments based on my Immersion Service Learning experiences in development studies, women's and gender studies, anthropology and sociology courses. I believe that opening myself up to other cultures and their ways of life has made me a more understanding person. Being an outsider in a foreign country allows you to see the social, political and economic structures at play and how they affect individuals on a daily basis. I found this knowledge to be very beneficial upon my return home, taking note of systematic discrepancies and how they play a role within Canada.”
“I feel these experiences broaden our perspective,” says StFX Schwartz School business professor Dr. Monica Lent, faculty leader for the group that will travel to Belize in April to learn about the preservation of natural resources at the Belize Zoo and community development in a small Mayan village.
“For example, sometimes we have preconceived notions, formed consciously or unconsciously, which are invariably called into question. By being exposed to how people experience life in other countries, we are able to reflect on how cultures, lifestyles, relationships…vary. Additionally, we become very aware of how privileged we actually are,” Dr. Lent says.
Dr. Lent, who is leading her second immersion trip, says the opportunity to learn and do new things drew her to participate. “In particular, I was drawn in by the community-led, bottom-up nature of the activities our host provides as I have a keen interest in this type of development. I look forward to observing the similarities and differences of the village of Maya Center and other communities I’ve spent time in that have charted their own course,” she says.
She is looking forward to a number of things including the group learning experience, the diversity of activities they’ll be involved in, engaging with the local people, and hopefully, with some local entrepreneurs to learn about their business and how and why they got started.
Along with these placements, other immersion experiences will see students visit an ecological reserve and work with a cloud forest community on environmental conservation and community development projects in Ecuador; exploring fair trade development and social justice in post genocide Mayan communities in Guatemala; in Ottawa, being part of a bilingual L’Arche community, sharing daily life and activities with developmentally disabled adults; and in Peru, joining a non-profit group in their efforts to implement sustainable development, food security and hygiene projects, in rural and impoverished communities.
StFX Service Learning is currently accepting applications for a fully-funded 12-week immersion experience in Ghana, in conjunction with a six credit IDS course “Contemporary Issues and Service Learning in Ghana.” Participants, who only pay tuition for the credit course, will complete the course, and six week placements with local community organizations, in Ghana from May to July of 2018. For more information on this opportunity please visit https://sites.stfx.ca/service_learning/node/130.html