Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

International students pitch in around Kingston

The Queen's School of English Volunteer Club visits the Salvation Army
The Queen's School of English Volunteer Club visits the Salvation Army Kingston (Supplied photo)

For a group of international students, it has been a busy summer. The twenty students, representing Japan, China, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and Korea, have been in town to upgrade their English skills through an English for Academic Purposes program. In their spare time, this group has been giving back to the community through the Queen’s School of English Volunteer Club.

“The idea to form this club came from my time teaching Social Welfare and Volunteerism in New Zealand, and speaking with international students while visiting partner universities in Japan,” says Robin Cox, Director, School of English. “Volunteering is one of the best ways for international students to get involved in their local community, and our English for Academic Purposes students here at Queen’s were seeking ways to give back during their studies. Working with our Student Life social activities monitor, Chris Suppa (Ed’17, MEd’19), we planned a program for the summer, and Chris organized a number of activities for them. We were really delighted with the response from both the students and the community.”

The club is a first-of-its-kind initiative for the School of English. After an initial meeting in early June, interested students sought opportunities to volunteer which centered on the importance of being kind to others, having fun while collaborating, and using volunteering as an opportunity to build connections and practice the English language.

The students started in their own backyard by rolling up their sleeves and doing a bit of gardening. They planted peas, summer squash, and radish seeds in the beds at the John Orr Tower Community Garden located on the west campus, and have been maintaining the plants throughout the summer months.

The students also paid a visit to Lord Strathcona elementary school for a cultural exchange in June, and prepared meals for Martha’s Table community program.

For their final act of charity, the students took up a collection for the Salvation Army Food Drive. The students chose the Salvation Army as their charity of choice due to its commitment to service both across Canada and internationally, and the fact they were operating during the summer. The 10-day food drive brought in 204 items.

“It was an absolute pleasure to work with this entire team of committed and motivated students,” says Mr. Suppa. “I am proud of every single one of them in their dedication to their studies and service. The students should be very proud knowing how many lives they touched and made a difference in.”

Due to the strong positive reception, the club will continue to be offered during English for Academic Purposes programs in the fall, winter, and summer sessions. In addition, the students who volunteered at least 20 hours each received a certificate of recognition from the School of English.

“The Volunteer Club’s support through the Summer Food Drive has made a positive impact on our agency’s Community Choice Pantry program, and we are truly grateful for their support,” says Maria Sadowy, Events, Media, & Volunteer Coordinator, The Salvation Army Kingston. “The club’s contribution allows us to continue to bring hope and dignity to those experiencing the cycle of poverty so that, together, we can work towards a stronger community. We hope that this may encourage more members in our community to get involved and help make a positive impact.”

Future volunteer events and other updates from the Queen’s School of English Volunteer Club will be available on queensu.ca/qsoe.