Like all good things, this had to come to an end too. After about six weeks of community engaged learning, my PCJ361 classmates and I can say that we’ve successfully completed the placement portion of our semester. While we’ve all had our ups and downs, I think that the experience as a whole has been, at the very least, a learning experience for the lot of us.

My placement with The Paradigm Shift Project (PSP) has been vastly different from any work that I’ve had to do in other jobs and placements before – no other non-profit organization I’ve ever been affiliated with has quite such ambitious goals, nor have they had the same means that PSP has. Through documentary production and grassroots campaigns, The Paradigm Shift Project strives to advance education regarding poverty community development through the means of local to global partnership.

I entered this placement (along with my classmate Atif Khan) starry-eyed and full of hope to make some real waves with our organization. Like any good liberal arts student, I wanted to change the world. Would I have been able to do that in the six-week placement? Realistically, probably not, but it was worth a shot.

We did our research on the organization – watching all their documentaries on YouTube, reading their reports and old sets of curricula, and speaking with their interns and executive director about how we would be able to help – and got to work immediately. Our assigned end goal for the placement was to create an innovative fundraising and marketing plan for the culmination of a global citizenship field trip for high school students in Ontario. While the logistics of this initiative had not yet been finalized, we realized that this would be a very ambitious project to begin from the bottom-up.

I began looking into government and foundation funding for the program, as well as looking in to ways that the program and The Paradigm Shift Project itself could be marketed to the public. This was difficult without much context for the final product, but nevertheless over the six weeks, we were able to provide a 10-page report on moving forward with the project.

We hit our fair share of bumps and hurdles over our placement period – a lull in communication for a while, as well as miscommunications about our next steps – we were able to work things out with the organization’s executive team in the end.

What did I learn from this experience? I’ve learned that things don’t always work out as planned – while I walked into this placement hoping to make real changes and push the goals of the organization forward, we ended up helping out with smaller projects in which we were (understandably so) not able to have such an intimate or direct influence on the community. I’ve learned how to better communicate with both local and global groups, and I’ve also brushed up on my fundraising and marketing skills, all of which are extremely valuable to non-profit organizations such as The Paradigm Shift Project.

Would I do this again? Absolutely – and I would recommend being involved with community engaged learning projects as much as possible. While you may not be able to quite change the world in your short time with the organization, you can certainly take away a lot from the experience to help with furthering your education.