Brock MBA Candidates help local non-profits through service learning.

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Brock MBA Candidates help local non-profits through service learning.

Published on August 03 2010


The following article appeared in Niagara This Week, July 22, 2010

  • Steve Henschel, Staff

Service learning. Brock University MBA students (from left) Sameer Verma, Shu Lin, David Yun, Rahama Alsini, Poorya Ohadi and Daniel Kim formed one of two teams developing a safety training program for the Hope Furniture Bank as a term project for their human resources class.

 
A university education is largely about what you learn, but for a group of Brock University Master of Business Administration students it has also become about giving back.
A dozen international students from Deborah Zinni’s human resources class wrapped up their “service learning” term project on Wednesday, July 21, as they delivered two possible training programs they developed to representatives from the Hope Furniture Bank located in Welland.
The two teams of students visited the bank, which provides discount furniture to those in need, as part of their research to develop a training program for furniture bank volunteers in the use of a manually driven cart used to move shipping pallets.
“The idea is that it improves learning by allowing students to go out and practise skills,” said Gillian Kemp, program director of corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives for Brock’s faculty of business and board vice-chair for the furniture bank.
“The other aspect is social responsibility,” she said, explaining that all of the university’s departments try to promote social responsibility and action through service learning projects.
“They learn they personally can make a difference,” said Kemp. She noted that the difference between a co-op placement and service learning is the reciprocation — that it’s not only about what students learn but also about what they give back to the organization they are serving.
“These students from other countries don’t always get involved in the community,” said Zinni, explaining that the furniture bank project provided a unique learning opportunity since many of the students who participated are from countries with little history of voluntary social action.
Indian-born student Sameer Verma, one of 12 students participating in the project, said he has a history of social responsibility back home in India, where he helped his family run a school.
“There is a section of the community that needs help,” said Verma, adding, “we should be very thankful of the people who are volunteering.”
Verma pointed out that many not-for-profit organizations don’t have the ability to invest in human resources professionals and safety training, so the students definitely did help.
“We focused on health and safety,” he said of the project which he said helped create an awareness in him and his fellow students.
Service learning projects are specifically designed around learning goals, according to Kemp.
Last year, the university ran 52 such projects involving 460 students. The value of these 52 programs represent about $100,000 in services the students have delivered. Kemp explained that the project’s learning goals are designed first and then they are submitted to community organizations.
“Some agencies just can’t get enough of it,” she said, pointing out that the university just ran a similar program with the furniture bank, in which students developed an accounting system for the organization.
As for the presentations of the training programs, furniture bank warehouse manager Ron Vermolen was impressed.
“They both came across very well,” he said. “They were very thorough.”
Vermolen pointed out that he will likely use parts of both training programs, explaining that each has its own positive merits.
 
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Brock MBA Candidates help local non-profits through service leaning.
MBA students participate in Service Learning project

Students Sameer Verma, Shu Lin, David Yun, Rahama Alsini, Poorya Ohadi and Daniel Kim