The students from the Human Services Foundation program had an opportunity recently to demonstrate to the college, their knowledge of diversity related issues. This is in partial fulfillment of the Cultural Diversity and Human Service course and was worth 60 % of the final grade.
The course is designed to increase awareness of many issues in diversity including those related to gender discrimination, sexual orientation, race, immigration, faith, First Nations peoples, etc. In addition, students are led through exercises, lectures and class discussions which promote an increased consciousness about themselves and the world around them. The course begins with the premise that EVERYONE has biases and prejudices and rather than focusing on the eradication of such biases, we acknowledge these biases and recognize the impact on others.
The students formed groups early in the semester and were asked to choose topics that they would research and prepare for presentation to the larger college community. They were assisted in refining their topics to develop a much more focused subject. For example, a group may have chosen same-sex marriage which could be refined to same-sex marriage and adoption and then further to the impact issues for the children of same-sex adoptions and the discrimination they face.
The staff and students at the College were invited to assist in the evaluation of the posters and most described the posters as creative, well done, and highly informative. They described the students as knowledgeable, engaging and passionate about their topics.
The Human Services Foundation program is one one-year certificate, from which students apply to diploma programs in Social Services, Recreation & Leisure, Early Childhood Education, Pre-service Firefighting, and other community service related programs. Some students decide to apply into Nursing or Personal Support Worker programs, while others move on to university. The program is finishing its fourth year at Conestoga and is designed to give students a very strong introduction to the values, attitudes and skills required in this field. Courses are designed to assist students in developing a mind-set that is ethical, thoughtful and oriented towards professionalism in human services. Two field placement opportunities allow students to explore different aspects of helping. A heavy emphasis is placed on the student's emerging awareness of the self as they begin to truly analyze their motivations around pursuing a career in community services. Students who have graduated from the program have viewed it as a more than a stepping stone to a future career as it challenges all aspects of the student's self.