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Program awarded

Unique project at Douglas College in New Westminster awarded by national bureau

New Westminster's Douglas College has received national recognition for its Uganda Project, an initiative that sends students to the country to assist locals while developing their own skills.

The project won the Outstanding Program in International Education Award at the Canadian Bureau for International Education's annual conference in late November.

Judges selected the Douglas program for its "high-quality and highly creative programming in international education" and because it "is a model of best practice that is transferable to other institutions," according to a press release from the college.

The program sees students from a variety of disciplines travel to Uganda to do everything from build libraries and assist in teaching to complete internships at rural mental health hospitals.

"This firmly establishes Douglas College as a national leader and benchmark for best-practice international education," said Bob Shebib, coordinator of Douglas's community social service work department, which began offering its students practicum opportunities in Uganda in 2006.

Every year selected students are sent to Uganda to do three-month practicums in social work, education, health care, community-based organizations and a variety of Ugandan and international non-governmental organizations.

"We go to Africa as learners, knowing that we do not have solutions to Africa's complex problems," said Shebib, who travelled to Uganda with six interns last spring. "Our learning comes from working with Africans as they implement their own 'made in Africa' initiatives."

The college also administrates the Uganda Endowment Fund, a grant for social service agencies in Uganda that promote self-sufficiency.

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