Getting creative with community leadership in a pandemic

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At NBCC, giving back to the community is, literally, part of the curriculum. To enhance their learning and develop skills in community leadership, students put in volunteer hours and complete a virtual course on how to find the leader within themselves.

In the past, students had traditionally completed their community service on one of two Service Days during the academic year. Hundreds of them would go out into the community, wearing their green shirts, all at once. The visual impact of so many students working together was striking, but during a global pandemic, it was no longer feasible.

So how can students safely volunteer in the community during a global pandemic? Quite easily, it seems!

“In response to COVID-19, we expanded the options for community service activities,” said Amanda Bent, Coordinator of NBCC’s Robertson Institute for Community Leadership. “We empowered instructors to pick any date during the academic year that worked for our community partners. This flexibility was very successful, both for our partners and for our learners.”

Far from limiting students’ volunteer potential, the pandemic inspired greater creativity in identifying community service opportunities, she said. For example, students enrolled in the Personal Support Worker program spent their volunteer hours doing “window visits” with locked-down seniors in a nursing home, reducing the isolation residents had been experiencing. Information Technology: Program Analysis students held Zoom calls with newcomers learning English as a second language, providing them an opportunity to practise their English and forge community connections.

NBCC’s Roberston Institute for Community Leadership is named for the inaugural chair of the College’s Board of Governors, Cheryl M.G. Robertston. A recipient of the Order of New Brunswick, Cheryl has a distinguished history of exemplary community leadership and has been recognized by a number of organizations for her extraordinary contributions.

Since 2014, NBCC learners, staff, and alumni have contributed more than 65,000 service hours to more than 1,200 community projects.

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