Volunteering Abroad Just Got Easier

CSU Introduces Two New Bursaries

  • Councillor Menachem Freedman introduced a motion to create two $500 bursaries for “international service.” photo christopher curtis

Starting next year, the Concordia Student Union will be awarding two students with bursaries for their volunteer work.

On March 9, CSU Council passed a motion, tabled by councillor Menachem Freedman, to introduce two new $500 bursaries for students who want to volunteer abroad.

To be eligible for the bursary, students must sign a three-way contract with the CSU and the organization they intend to work with. The contract will confirm that the student has been accepted by the organization and will be working with them for three months, unpaid.

Freedman recognizes that the amount will not pay the whole way for students, but he thinks it’s a good start. “Speaking as someone who has gone abroad and scrounged for money wherever I possibly could, 500 dollars is money,” he said. “It’s half, or a third of a plane ticket.”

Freedman hopes that these bursaries will be a starting point from which more money will be able to grow. The bursary fits into Concordia’s new draft academic plan, which prioritizes student involvement, specifically extra-curricular student involvement. Freedman is pushing the administration to put their money where their mouth is, asking them to either match or double the CSU’s incentive.

He said that if students can’t go abroad for financial reasons, they are being blocked from many different avenues. “If they can’t go because they don’t have the money and our university isn’t going to support them, then we are the ones limiting them,” he said.

These new bursaries will fall under the CSU’s mandate to distribute thirty $500 bursaries to students who demonstrate financial need and deserve to be recognized for either their academic or extra-curricular achievements. The money to pay for them will be drawn from this pre-existing fund.

CSU VP Loyola and Advocacy Hassan Abdullahi was vocal in his support of Freedman’s idea during the council meeting.

“I think it’s a really great initiative,” he said. “As soon as [Freedman] brought it up, it really resonated with me.”
Abdullahi recognizes the importance of volunteering abroad from an academic perspective. “Its an important aspect of student life these days,” he said. “It’s one of the key things that universities look for.”

CSU President Heather Lucas also thinks that this bursary will help students branch out. “Having an education at Concordia is great,” she said. “But to have a well-rounded education, students need to go beyond—do something other then just school.”

Freedman, speaking from personal experience, believes that volunteering abroad is extremely valuable and recommends it to everyone.

“I’ve always been surprised that when you go, your intent will be to sacrifice and to help, but you will find you will have gained a lot more than you intended,” he said. “That you will end up gaining a lot more than you gave.”

The bursaries will be available starting next year, as this year’s application period is already underway.

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