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January Student Profile: Anna Giesbrecht

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Anna GiesbrechtWhat do Conrad Grebel, restorative justice, and Brazil all have in common? The answer is Anna Giesbrecht. An Arts and Business student with a major in PACS and a minor in International Studies, Anna has taken full advantage of the incredible opportunities that co-op offers.

Anna’s most recent co-op position was with Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), a local organization that uses restorative justice to address conflict and crime. After taking PACS 329: Restorative Justice, Anna was very interested in the practices involved in restorative justice, and spoke to her professors about opportunities for co-op positions within the field. Anna landed a position in the Elder Mediation Services branch, working with older adults and running recreational programming to help CJI members build relationships so that they can better resolve conflicts that are faced by this population.

“This position had a clear relation to PACS related in the restorative justice aspect, but I think it’s always cool to see how different aspects play in. I took a trauma and healing course, and that played a lot into it too. Recognizing what people have gone through and how that affects them now. It’s amazing because PACS can really relate to absolutely anything.”

Anna also spent a co-op term in Brazil, working with the organization Youth with a Mission. In Brazil school for children is a half-day, Anna worked in a facility that offered programs for school-aged children for the other half of the day that they were not in school. Children were able to receive help with homework, participate in music, dance, and math classes, as well as take part in lessons of values including things like generosity and respect. During her time here Anna taught English to the students, and they weren’t the only ones learning a new language!

“I didn’t speak any Portuguese, but I learned a lot when I was there and now I’m taking a class to learn more. I found that even with a language barrier, people just want you to be there, and they will find a way to communicate. I couldn’t use my words as much, so I found myself becoming so much more expressive and using my face to communicate so much more.”

With just one co-op term left Anna is beginning to look beyond her undergraduate degree, something that co-op has helped her immensely with. Drawing on her co-op experience, Anna can pinpoint the aspects of the work that truly made a connection to her.

“In some ways I know better then when I first started and in some ways I know less, just because I’ve learned so much and there is so much to be interested in.”