Recreation and health education co-op student leaps into world of travel
Shalom Christian College - Lattitude Global Volunteering
Tavis Morton hails from Salt Spring Island, a sleepy place with a population of no more than 12,000 people. But he has leapt off the Rock in a big way, using the UVic Co-op Program to see the world.
A trip to China after his first year of university was Tavis’ first introduction to travel, and he was immediately hooked. Since then, he has completed two international co-op work terms, the most recent being a placement at Shalom Christian College in Townsville, Australia. He arranged the co-op work term through Lattitude Global Volunteering, a charity that connects youth with volunteer opportunities around the world.
At Shalom Christian College, a school for indigenous students from all over Australia, Tavis had a variety of responsibilities. He provided one-on-one help to students as a classroom assistant in the primary secondary schools; he filed books and performed other administrative tasks in the library; and he managed the school’s health and wellness centre, coordinating hospital and dental visits.
Tavis has worked with children before – he has coached soccer since he was fourteen, and he worked at kids’ camps at the Atlantic College in Wales on a previous co-op. “That was more in my comfort zone. The one in Australia pushed me,” he says. But the challenges he faced provided him with a great learning opportunity he may not have had in the classroom. “You can read as many books as you want at school, but you’ll never learn as much as you do when you start a new job,” says Tavis.
It’s the people he met while in Australia who made the experience worth it, Tavis says. “The staff was a blast,” he says. “And you fall in love with the kids, absolutely.” Experiencing the Aboriginal culture was also a highlight for Tavis. “I was fortunate enough to be invited by some of the Aboriginal students to their community,” he says. In the Aboriginal community he visited, Tavis went fishing, made traditional foods and was even “adopted” by the community elders.
Next on Tavis’ travel itinerary is another international co-op through Global Lattitude Volunteering – this time, he’ll travel to Northern India to teach conversational English to monks at a monastery. His words of advice to students contemplating international co-ops: be prepared and get in touch before you go. “The organization you’ll be working with should know you before you get there,” says Tavis.
Co-op is invaluable, says Tavis, because it allows him to travel while gaining skills that apply to his studies. “I couldn’t see going to university without co-op,” he says. “It’s where my true education comes from.”
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