The University of Waterloo has nurtured an environment where opportunities for experiential learning are vast and varied. Waterloo is home to the largest co-operative education program in Canada, and offers internships, the EDGE certificate in experiential education, and countless hackathons and pitch competitions. Fully engaged in this trend of learning beyond the classroom, Grebel offers students a chance to participate in leadership roles, music ensembles, and volunteering. These opportunities complement in-class learning and allow students to link their studies with life experiences, leading to deeper understanding.
Grebel students are recognizing the importance of hands-on learning and the value of that deeper understanding. The following accounts come from Grebel residents and associates who have taken advantage of extra learning opportunities at Grebel and the University of Waterloo.
BRIAR HUNTER, 5TH YEAR, BIOLOGY
Co-op jobs have placed me face-to-face with the wildlife and ecosystems my professors have spent years teaching me about. Experiencing first-hand how professionals use the very information I read in a textbook to hypothesize about ecosystem interactions and how these interactions affect human life has provided a whole new inspiration for learning. Co-op has given me not only a hands-on environment where I can put what I have learned into practice, but also a greatly enhanced appreciation for additional opportunities to learn.
SUOMI MACCARTHY, 4TH YEAR, ACTUARIAL SCIENCE
Being on the Chapel Committee has given me a way to regularly pause and reflect on my spiritual life amidst busy university life. During Chapel and our weekly meetings, I am able to take a break from thinking about assignments, readings, midterms, and co-op job applications. It also gives me a great opportunity to learn from others and to strengthen my own faith. I have become more aware of my capabilities, and I know now that I won’t necessarily have all the answers I’m looking for, and that’s okay!
THEO WIEDERKEHR, 4TH YEAR, PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES
During my PACS internship I worked at two gardens that are part of a project to work on urban Indigenous food sovereignty. In my classes, I have been studying some of the challenges and questions around Indigenous and Settler reconciliation. My internship offered an opportunity to try to put what I have been learning about reconciliation into practice and to work with Métis gardeners. Through this experience, I learned a bit more about how complex trying to live towards reconciliation is.
ALEX SKIPPER, 4TH YEAR, SCIENCE
My courses have given me the academic training required to succeed in my career goals. However, there are relational components of that career that Grebel has enabled me to develop through various leadership roles. I’ve learned how to serve a community individually and as a whole. I’ve learned that being a good leader means doing far more listening than speaking. I’ve learned the importance of recognizing the privilege that comes with a leadership position and using that to its fullest potential. Grebel has given me the toolkit to be a mover and a shaker in the world.
ANANYA XAVIER, 3RD YEAR, PSYCHOLOGY AND SEXUALITY, MARRIAGE, AND FAMILY STUDIES
Since starting to volunteer for the Homework Help program at Chandler Mowat Community Centre, I have become increasingly passionate about education and am seriously considering it as a possibility for my future. I have been able to use my academic knowledge to build trusting relationships with the kids and understand what makes them who they are. Homework Help allows me to practice what I have been taught in class about children and education. And even though it may sound clichéd, during every Homework Help session I learn something new.
JOSH RAMPERSAD, 3RD YEAR, COMPUTER SCIENCE
When I applied to be a residence don, I expected that the donning role and my academic responsibilities would not overlap. In reality, donning has given me an environment to apply the theoretical knowledge I’m learning in my PACS and Speech Communication courses. Donning has also taught me the importance of good time management and the value of a reliable team. Donning is a big job and would be impossible to manage alone.
NIKI WIBISONO, 3RD YEAR, MUSIC
I’ve been playing piano since I was three, but I had never joined a band or ensemble before coming to Grebel. Joining an Instrumental Chamber Ensemble showed me that playing solo and playing in ensembles are really different. It’s also different when I accompany the Chapel Choir on piano. Chapel Choir and the Gamelan Ensemble have taught me how to learn music by ear. Through Gamelan Ensemble I’ve learned how to be involved in a big music community and help build music together. The Ensembles have taught me practical skills that I don’t get in my other classes.
MARGIE MCCLOSKEY, 4TH YEAR, PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES
Last February, along with some other University of Waterloo students, I participated in a hackathon run by CBC. Our project concentrated on making news accessible by avoiding personalization and bias in the content given to Canadians. I found the experience to be a really great way to apply concepts that I was learning in class to a real-life scenario. In my classes, I’ve learned a lot about the impact that news and the portrayal of information can have on current issues, so it was interesting to explore the ways in which this can be improved in the media.
JOCELYN BRETZLAFF, 1ST YEAR, HEALTH STUDIES
One of the things that drew me to Waterloo was its co-op program. However, one drawback of the program for me was the added academic year, since I hope to pursue medical school and nine years of school just seemed like too much! I was so excited to find out that at Waterloo, students like myself can develop their professional skills, explore career options, and learn how to market themselves to employers through EDGE, an experiential education certificate program. This program is great for anyone looking to learn and make themselves more competitive in the job market.