Volunteerism presents an opportunity for students to have co- curricular learning experience by developing and strengthening new skills. These skills are linked to the graduate attributes of Stellenbosch University. The graduate attributes are: an enquiring mind; an engaged citizen; a dynamic professional; and a well-rounded individual.
Volunteerism provides students with an out of class learning experience whereby student engage in relationship building with communities, share tacit knowledge, generate new knowledge, in a reciprocal way with communities. Students also learn new things about themselves.
Students are acknowledged for the hours in service which is recorded on their academic transcript. Students are also able to participate in an accredited course in community development as a co-curricular learning experience. Students can gain experience in a field, which might fall outside of the areas of studies and will be exposed to an experience and skill set which assists with the creation of well -rounded students able to draw from these experiences and learnings when entering the working world or taking up leadership positions on campus.
The type of initiatives they select to be committed to and serve the communities, enhances their curricular as well as the co- curricular learning. Whilst in other cases, especially on our Tygerberg campus, the opportunity to volunteer directly linked to their curricular course and improve on their clinical skills.
The primary skills the students gain:
Interpersonal , communication and organization skills as well as the practical application of knowledge and skills. Students learn about ethics, conflict management, team work, risk management and how to conduct themselves in a professional matter, Students learn the value of working in a structured way and develop a commitment and passion for volunteering as active citizens.
The benefit to partners and communities:
Volunteerism strengthens the work that communities are currently doing in a structured way. It provides additional human resources to enhance the initiatives that are already implemented in communities. Some of the initiatives connect organizations during similar work in the area, and students are instrumental in strengthening strategic networks around a specific initiative. Students often bring innovative ideas to the initiatives as well as the generation of new ideas through the interaction with the surrounding communities.
Through their engagement, students assist communities to take ownership of the initiatives in their areas. Students provide a great support base for communities and are willing to offer an able hand to implement the initiatives.
Professional (experts) from the university train community members to develop new initiatives, and after they exit the community is left with a new skill to transfer to the rest of the community.