October 13, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Two of King’s most recent graduates; Courtney Vaughan and Jenna Strathearn, are putting their newly framed Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJPS) degrees to work, as they will be working with Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) over the next six months in Africa.

Courtney Vaughan (SJPS, French, and First Nations Studies, 2015) and Jenna Strathearn (SJPS, Childhood and Social Institutions, 2015) are the recipients of Douglas College’s Uganda Project inaugural year internships. The two King’s grads will spend half a year working in rural communities with local leaders and organizations dedicated to mental health, and community development.

The Uganda Project, which provides field placements primarily in the Masaka region of the country, enables students in Social Science, Health Science, and Interdisciplinary programs to learn first-hand about communities outside our own.

“The emphasis in this program is not a transfer of knowledge or expertise from Canada to Uganda, it really is focused on giving recent graduates the opportunity to learn from locals and to drive local solutions to local problems,” notes Dr. Allyson Larkin, King’s Social Justice and Peace Studies professor.

Dr. Larkin, a professor and mentor to both Vaughan and Strathearn, was approached about this unique opportunity from Douglas College colleague John Fox. Fox, an instructor from the Community Social Service Worker Program, is also the coordinator of the Uganda project.

As graduates of the Social Justice and Peace Studies Program, both Vaughan and Strathearn had extensive international experience as King’s students. Vaughan has participated in the Intercordia program in the Dominican Republic (2013), and the Reading Week DR program (2014).  She also completed the Holguin University Spanish program and the Trois Pistole French Program in 2014.  Strathearn has participated in volunteer projects in Kenya and traveled to Ethiopia to research Canadian NGOs engaged in sports programming for children in 2015.  She was also a member of two Childhood and Social Institutions international programs; one to Sweden (2013), and the other to Winchester University (2015).  

Their experiences set them up to apply for internship positions with the Uganda project. An interesting aspect of this internship for students is that is it targeted at graduated students, and is open to students without a master’s degree. “It’s perfect because it takes people from different avenues and from different programs” says Strathearn.

Before heading to Uganda, Vaughn and Strathearn will spend time at Douglas College in B.C., where they will be joined by fellow interns of the project and be briefed and prepared for their NGO placement.

“Each of us is placed with a local NGO in Uganda, once in place with that NGO, we will be assigned a project, and have about six months to work with that NGO in order to complete it,” explains Vaughan.

Both women will be working as Community Service workers while interning with local NGOs.

“What really resonated with me about this program is that it really focus’ on teaching culturally appropriate ways of learning to work in a way that’s not appropriative”, says Vaughan.

“I really liked the idea that the NGOs we are going to work with are local NGOs, we’re not going to work with western NGOs, and I like the idea of me being taught, not me going in and being expected to know what I’m doing, that I have to run an NGO, or part of a program that they have going on,” adds Strathearn.

The Uganda Project internships are funded by a grant by DFATD.  It is designed to provide recent graduates of Canadian universities with international development experience.  For more information about the Uganda Project, please visit www.douglascollege.ca, or meet with Dr. Larkin at King’s.

Best of luck to both Courtney and Jenna as they embark on their six month internship!