CCEL hosts sixth Community Engagement Symposium

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(Source: Lola Moli) Students participate in the Center for Community Engaged Learning’s Alternative Spring Break program, which will be featured at the symposium.

On April 16, Weber State University’s civically engaged Wildcats will have an opportunity to showcase their cooperation and involvement in the local, state and national communities during the Sixth Annual Community Engagement Symposium. The Center for Community Engaged Learning hosts the symposium every year to encourage students who have volunteered to showcase what they have accomplished through their efforts.

Keynote speaker Rye Barcott, a former Marine, will talk to attendees about his recently published book, “It Happened on the Way to War,” which recounts his experience in co-founding Carolina for Kibera, a nonprofit organization.

“This is a true story of sacrifice and courage, failure and triumph, and the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service,” Barcott wrote on his website. “It’s a story of what America’s role in the world could be.”

Barcott stated on his website that he decided to help because of all the ethnic conflicts in Kibera, one of the poorest communities in Africa.

Through respectful collaboration with poor communities, Carolina for Kibera is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Tabitha Atieno Festo was able to open a medical clinic in Kibera because of a $26 grant from Barcott. From 2009 to 2010, 41,825 people visited the Tabitha Medical Clinic, including 3,276 children under 5 who received vaccinations for the flu. The Tabitha Clinic has also provided access to HIV care and treatment for 602 individuals.

The organization has also had an impact on the social and economic aspects of the community. More than 5,000 children participate in the annual soccer tournament, and it has awarded 307 scholarships. The GET-IT computer-based entrepreneurship training has had 17 successful graduates, who own their own business with 2,419 clients who pay 415 shillings per month for garbage collection, which employs 35 youth.

The symposium, held in the Shepherd Union Building, will begin with the keynote speech in the Wildcat Theater at 11:30 a.m. A reception for presenters and a book signing will follow at 12:30 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Gallery and Fireplace Lounge, where posters made by symposium presenters will be on display and attendees can speak with presenters about their experiences. Closing remarks will begin at 1:45 p.m. in the Fireplace Lounge.

“This symposium is a great time for students to really reflect on their part in the community,” said Alisha Brenchley, marketing and program assistant for the CCEL. “There is no better way for our students to really get their message out than with a big audience available to showcase it all in.”

The CCEL helps the students make posters that show pictures, statistics or background information about what they did in the community and what the work was like. The students discuss their efforts in taking part and what they hope to accomplish now or down the road from their work.

“Students tell their story about their engagement in the community,” said Brenda Kowalewski, professor of sociology and co-director of the CCEL. “We love to hear these stories, because the students tell us over the past year how they been active with community leaders or what parts of the community they have helped out.”