Dec. 7, 2020

UCalgary students engage globally to help local organizations

Global Community Challenge to continue in 2021

UCalgary International recently hosted the Global Community Challenge YYC Finals involving 54 students from 17 universities in 14 countries. Teams of students worked across boundaries of time, language, academic discipline and culture to solve challenges faced by local organizations.

The first-place team worked with the Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth. The foundation already has an amazing program that supports youth across the city, but due to COVID-19 it has struggled to finds ways to connect with new immigrant families and help them navigate Calgary’s education system, work that was previously done in person.

“Winning the Global Community Challenge was so exciting, but our ultimate goal was to create and implement a practical solution for our community partner, and we did that,” says Emily Tetrault, a UCalgary social work grad. “Participating in the challenge provided me with experience working on a real-life project in a professional setting, which I had never done before. My favourite part about the Global Community Challenge was collaborating on a team of students, not only from different countries, but who each brought a unique academic background and skillset to the team.”

Jessica Revington, UCalgary student presenting at the virtual Global Community Challenge YYC Finals

Jessica Revington, UCalgary student presenting at the virtual Global Community Challenge YYC Finals.

Tetrault’s team provided guidance to the foundation on how to host events virtually, boost workshop engagement with the use of social media, and suggested project management software to track vital information. Her team members included:

  • Celia Sorrentino from Aix-Marseille Université in France
  • Chloé Balix from University College Groningen in the Netherlands
  • Jessica Revington from UCalgary
  • Rhi McQuone from University of Sheffield in the U.K.
  • Samuel López from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico
  • Team Mmentor Aishwarya Khanduja, from the Cumming School of Medicine

Milton Ortega, director of programs at the Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth (CBFY) says, “The level of innovation, commitment and motivation that the teams showed during the last several weeks of the Global Community Challenge were not only commendable but inspiring. The professionalism, diversity of ideas by the group of participants from around the world, and the endless hours spent on our organizational projects have impressed me immensely. The solutions that the teams presented were realistic, feasible and timely; thus, we will be testing them. I am also confident this experience will positively impact these global students in their future community engagements, career prospects and civic participation.”

Celia Sorrentino, student from Aix-Marseille Université in France, presenting at the virtual Global Community Challenge YYC Finals

Celia Sorrentino, student from Aix-Marseille Université in France, presenting at the virtual Global Community Challenge YYC Finals.

Judges included Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura, vice-provost and associate vice-president research (international), Dr. Cheryl Dueck, PhD, senior academic director (international), and Dr. Getachew Assefa, PhD, associate professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.

Ruwanpura says, “It is powerful to see the impact you can have both locally and globally even during these current circumstances, and how successful it can be when people from so many different perspectives and backgrounds work together. Our Growth Through Focus strategy and new Global Engagement Plan focus on deeper community integration and improving intercultural capacity, goals this new initiative centre on. This challenge gave students the opportunity to develop crucial skills for today’s world.”

“Amidst the academic coursework, GCC provided the satisfaction to implement my skills and knowledge to help the community. Collaborating with students from across the globe and from varied disciplines helped me improve my time management, teamworking and leadership skills. GCC provides a first-hand experience to the real life challenges faced by organizations, it was an invaluable experience. Thank you to the organizing team, judges and students for this memorable event,” says Mohak Maniar, a UCalgary student who was able to participate in the challenge while studying remotely from India.

Watch the recording of the Fall 2020 Global Community Challenge YYC finals.

The next iteration of the challenge launches in January. If you are interested in participating, click here to get notified.

Register to celebrate the launch of the 2020-25 Global Engagement Plan on Thursday, Dec. 10, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.