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A Humanitarian Outlook

In September, Business Administration Professor Maeve Quaid gave her fourth-year Workplace Diversity students two choices for an end-of-year documentary assignment. They could produce a documentary based on opening a business in a non-English speaking country, or they could focus on conducting a humanitarian aid project in a developing country. Each and every student in AD430 chose to conduct a humanitarian aid project.

"This is quite unique and I think it sets Trent business students apart from those at some other universities," says Prof. Quaid. "Our program focuses a lot on ethics and human resources, and it is more philosophical and less technical than a lot of other business programs. It really is ‘the thinking person’s’ business program, and the students’ choice to help out those less fortunate is very much a reflection of our intellectual tradition."

Working in pairs or groups, Prof. Quaid’s students produced 20 - 25 minute documentaries covering a wide range of topics, including sending supplies to a school in Kiev, sending teddy bears to an orphanage in Mexico, developing a women’s shelter in Kenya, purchasing generators for a school in Sierra Leone and a hospital in Haiti, and purchasing computers for a school in Pakistan.

One group of students worked with Father Stan Chu Ilo, a visiting priest at the Cathedral of St. Peter-in-Chains in Peterborough. Father Ilo is from a village of 8,000 people in Nigeria where disease runs rampant because of a lack of clean water. He is raising money to construct a proper well, and AD430 students helped organize a successful pancake breakfast for St. Peter’s parishioners, as a fundraiser.

Not only did students have to research their particular humanitarian aid project, and the country involved - they also had to raise funds and awareness at Trent, and document their progress. The monies raised by AD430 students, and the experiences related to fundraising, were an integral part of the documentary process.

" It was the type of project that touched on a lot of different issues," said student Tyler Kennedy. "From filming to interviewing and editing, it was a great experience."

" I like the documentary format because students have to really think about their topic," says Prof. Quaid. They must continually make decisions about the relevance of the material that they collect. They must also keep their audience in mind at all times. The Business Administration program at Trent University places a lot of emphasis on communications, right from day one, and I think that the documentary provides these graduating students with an opportunity to use skills like writing, public speaking, interviewing, listening, and organizing material in a logical sequence. The nicest thing about the documentary is that the students can all share in each other’s learning experience at the ‘premiere.’ (when they show their documentaries to the class)"

Between $5,000 and $7,000 has been raised by AD430 students for humanitarian aid projects.

Photo: Business Administration students Tyler Warman (left) and Tyler Kennedy recently worked together to complete a documentary based on raising funds for one school’s physical education program in Jamaica. Extensive interviews were conducted with the local organization Jamaica Self Help, and Mr. Warman and Mr. Kennedy raised money for the project through a social dance event at Champlain College.

Posted April 14, 2003

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April 21, 2003