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Wilfrid Laurier University Laurier Brantford
October 28, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Erica Dubeau at Cerrito Azul in Peru, a school for special needs children
Erica Dubeau at Cerrito Azul in Peru, a school for special needs children

Headlines (Campus Updates)

Laurier Brantford

Community development and solidarity in South America

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Sep 21/11

This past summer, students and faculty from Laurier’s Brantford and Waterloo campuses teamed up with Laurier International and Solidarity In Action (SIA) to travel to Peru and Ecuador. Three groups participated in two-week trips to Peru and Ecuador to connect with local communities in the pursuit of solidarity and social justice work.

Laurier International’s SIA trips include a variety of volunteer opportunities, such as dental hygiene campaigns, ESL workshops, construction projects and working with special needs children. This summer, students reconstructed an orphanage, built a peace garden in one of Peru’s Shantytowns, and took children to the zoo.

Students agreed that the SIA trips are an emotional experience where they can create friendships, share cultures and provide tools for change.

“The Solidarity in Action trips gave me the opportunity to see the world in a way I never had before,” said Stef Buehner, a Laurier student and trip leader who travelled to both Peru and Ecuador. “I expected to teach the people of South America, but I soon realized that they had taught me more than I could ever teach them.”

Buehner decided to stay in South America for the summer to continue volunteering.

“It has been the best decision I ever made,” she said. “My time in South America has changed the way I live my life.”

In addition to their daily placements, students took Spanish lessons in the evening and gained cultural experience by interacting with local children and adults while learning about Latin America. They also reflected on their daily experiences with each other.

“These are life-enriching opportunities that will leave a profound impact on the lives of all who participated – the students, trip leaders and the community helped by this effort,” said Laurier Instructor Donald Chiro.

Due to the success of the three trips in 2011, a new trip to Pimapiro, Ecuador, has been added for 2012. On this trip, students will be able to work at a newly constructed orphanage.

“As SIA expands, so does the ever-changing definition of solidarity,” said Jessie McCahill, Laurier’s student abroad advisor. “Students and faculty continue to pursue work in South America with compassion and a community mindset.”

Students, staff and faculty interested in participating in future SIA endeavors can contact McCahill at Applications for 2012 trips are due Nov. 4, 2011. For more information, visit


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