by Heidi Riley
“There are quite a few opportunities to volunteer with us,” says Richelle Greathouse, one of three International Student Advisors at UPEI.
“You don’t need to be an international student to volunteer with this office – we would also love to see domestic UPEI students as volunteers.
“Here in Canada, and especially on PEI, we have a very strong volunteer culture. Many employers look for volunteer experience on a resumé. I encourage people to get a variety of volunteer experiences and learn new skills or expand their horizons and meet new people.
“Volunteering is good for your mental health. Students who volunteer with us get a lot out of it. Many make lasting friendships.”
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Tax Clinic – is a volunteer opportunity open to all UPEI students. “We are always looking for new students to help out, because we could not hold the clinics without them. There are opportunities on campus and in other places such as seniors homes, the library, or a community centre.
“If you are new to Canada, or if you have never filed your own tax return, you can still volunteer with the clinic to greet people, organize scheduling, photocopying, handing out information, or answering email enquiries.
“For students who did their own taxes last year, who received their first notice of assessment and are eligible to efile their tax returns can help others with their taxes. Many accounting students take on that role. We have seen former accounting students who have volunteered with this program go on to jobs with CRA. It is really good experience that looks great on your resumé.”
Global Village is an event that takes months of preparation time and is totally run by student volunteers. Student volunteers are there as resources, to help guide organizers, help with some expenses, and with booking rooms. “This is a very satisfying event to be part of – many students have come back to me after this event to say they now feel like they truly belong and have met life-long friends.”
Ongoing volunteer opportunities
Every year, UPEI holds an orientation for international students in addition to the regular student orientation to help them understand such things as healthcare in Canada and understanding immigration requirements.
“I always like to have a few volunteers join us, mingle with the new students, and tell them a bit about UPEI and about Charlottetown. It is great to have some existing students to welcome the new international students.”
Student volunteers are also needed for the Airport greeter service. Morning, afternoon, or evening shifts at the airport are available, and taxi service to and from the airport is paid. The volunteer’s job is to greet new students as they come off the plane, help if they have problems with their luggage, invite them to orientation, and show them where the taxis are.
“The new students also have their taxis paid for. It is a nice way to welcome people to the Island and to be a friendly face. We have just six people signed up for this service, and we need about 10 more.”
The Buddy Program is popular with both domestic and international students. A new student is paired with an existing international student or domestic student who is familiar with UPEI and Charlottetown to help them get adjusted. “We are always looking for new volunteers, because as our numbers go up, we have a huge need to pair up students with volunteers. It is not a huge time requirement – perhaps an hour a week at first, and then later maybe just a few hours a month.”