2014 Service Learning Poster Presentation
Second year Urban Studies students, Natasha Petzold and Stefan Attig, reflect on their service learning experiences.
Our service learning experience at the Annex Residents’ Association (ARA) was very enjoyable, as it allowed us to become familiar with the Annex neighbourhood and gave us a sense of accomplishment for our contribution in preserving a piece of Toronto’s heritage. Our main task was to assist the ARA with a study of the neighbourhood, which involved surveying individual properties in the Annex and spending many hours outside in the cold. Brrrr! During the surveying process, our team collected information about the land use and built form of each property, which was inputted into a Geographic Information System (GIS) so that the ARA can perform evidence-based analysis to protect the neighbourhood’s charm and legacy from the development of high-rise buildings.
The service learning experience facilitated the creation of new friendships and fostered teamwork, as we learned to solve problems, communicate efficiently, and coordinate tasks as a team. It also helped us to develop a fundamental understanding of the themes discussed in lectures because we gained a deeper appreciation of the theoretical concepts and their application in the ‘real-world’. As a team, we felt that the greatest achievement was knowing that we contributed to protecting the future of the Annex and the authenticity of the City of Toronto.
The poster presentation was a proud and exciting moment, as we were given the opportunity to share our experience at the ARA with our peers and guests at the event. It allowed us to explain the challenges that the Annex community is facing, and how the survey and GIS work we did is helping to resolve these issues. It was great to have to chance to converse with other academics regarding local urban issues and hear from the president of the University of Toronto, Meric Gertler, about his experiences and opinions on such matters.
Overall, we had many positive experiences at our service learning placement. We enjoyed working with our supervisor and gained valuable knowledge about the role of civic engagement and the importance of preserving heritage in a rapidly urbanizing city.
Natasha Petzold and Stefan Attig, INI 235 students