Eliminating borders

UTM is a hub for volunteer organizations dedicated to fulfilling the ideal of global citizenship. One of these groups, UTM VIDA (Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures) has partnered with VIDA, a non-profit outfit headquartered in Costa Rica, to organize a student mission to Nicaragua from May 5-12, 2009.

A team of forty UTM students will deliver medical and dental relief to impoverished communities, travelling and working closely with doctors, aid workers, and affected families. The primary aim is to transform lives while also spreading awareness and promoting humanitarianism among youth. As such, VIDA serves as a resource to harness volunteerism in the service of humanity, operating across cultural and national boundaries within Central America. In the words of its mission statement, VIDA aims to create a humanitarian, not-forprofit, apolitical, secular, grassroots organization that empowers individuals and benefits communities and offer volunteers hands-on, eye-opening, mind-enriching experiences in a constructive and intercultural environment. VIDA is officially registered as a charity, and UTM VIDA is a campus club subset of the international organization.

One of UTM VIDAs cofounders, Jason Patel, expressed the sense of purpose within the organization he helps to lead. For more than a year, my colleagues and I have desired to make a significant community impact. After reviewing the clubs offered by UTM, we concluded that too many seek to benefit the individual or the local community.

Patel adds that while there is nothing wrong with that, VIDAs goal is to encompass a truly global perspective. We are seeking to change common perceptions of community by encouraging students to embrace the world beyond Mississauga. We want to extend a helping hand to those in need overseas, to make a positive change in the lives of those not fortunate enough to live in as prosperous a country as Canada.

UTM VIDA has tirelessly fundraised over the course of the current academic year, approaching companies and raising money on campus through water balloon, hot chocolate, and bake sale stations. UTM VIDAs team continues to seek support for its cause. On March 31, they will sponsor a professor- student soiree, to provide a social venue for interaction between students and faculty.

The soiree will utilize a concept pioneered on other campuses — interdisciplinary events featuring one-on-one discussions between students and professors. It offers an extraordinary opportunity for networking and communication in a relaxed, enjoyable setting. In addition, this event will feature a full dinner, live jazz music, and a silent auction. All proceeds from ticket sales and auctioneering will be used to purchase medical supplies for Nicaragua.

All students and faculty members interested in attending the event are encouraged to come out and show their support. Tickets are only $10 ($12 at the door) and will be on sale at the Student Center Info Booth starting March 2.

UTM VIDA has also collaborated constructively with UTMSU VP equity Saaliha Malik, who has been assisting the group in their organizational efforts. The use of the unions space and resources has helped UTM VIDA spread a message of hope and optimism in tackling humanitarian challenges.

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