By Robyn Plasterer
My engagement with WUSC over the past eight years has been transformative. I am fortunate to be one of the thousands of young people across Canada to be forever impacted by the power of the Student Refugee Program. My volunteer work with the SRP broadened my understanding of migration and humanitarian issues and gave me the skills, experience and connections needed to take on opportunities such as travelling to Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps as a research assistant for the Centre for Refugee Studies (the WUSC Refugee Study Seminar in 2008), completing my Master’s in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford, and interning at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva. But beyond this, my engagement with WUSC fostered lifelong friendships for which I am the most grateful.
The people who I’ve met through WUSC Local Committees are fierce, innovative, humble and incredibly supportive. It is through their support that I’ve had the confidence to pursue my own ambitions. For those who may think that the SRP is about supporting newcomers to Canada, let me say that it is very much a program of reciprocity; in fact, I’m quite sure that the support I’ve received through my local committee exceeds far beyond the support that I’ve given.
I also had the opportunity to travel to Botswana with the Students Without Borders Program® in 2007, which was the first time I had been to Africa and worked in the HIV/AIDS sector. The experience helped me to better understand the work of both WUSC and Uniterra globally, and to witness the development impact of these organisations on the ground through working in solidarity with community leaders.
I've been working in development now for five years since graduating from UBC, and I have yet to find a more innovative and powerful force for change than the WUSC Local Committee Network. I'm so proud to be an alumni of this amazing organization, and continue to meet people around the globe who feel the same.
Robyn Plasterer was a WUSC Local Committee member at the University of British Columbia from 2005-2009.
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