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About Beyond Borders

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Michelle Metzger
Service Learning Program Coordinator
519-884-8111 x 28282


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About Beyond Borders
“The Beyond Borders program provides an opportunity for students to have a perspective-shifting encounter with new people, vibrant cultures, and with themselves.”


Beyond Borders is an academically centered international service-learning experience at St. Jerome’s University. The program consists of academic coursework, a local volunteer placement in Kitchener-Waterloo, and a 90-day placement with a grassroots development organization abroad. Beyond Borders is the capstone experience in international service learning that takes upper year students out of their comfort zone and into the world. Students can use their Beyond Borders international volunteer placement as a co-op work term or as their international experience for the Global Experience Certificate.

The Beyond Borders program started in 2005 in collaboration with Intercordia Canada, an organization that partners with post-secondary institutions to facilitate engaged-learning experiences.  In addition to the pre-departure and reintegration seminars run by Intercordia staff, St. Jerome’s University allowed students to obtain three academic credits by taking specialized academic programs and a field studies credit for their time on their international placement.
Student Outcomes
  • Deconstruct existing perceptions and reconstruct a more flexible way of approaching world issues;
  • Build on knowledge of the causes of injustice, inequality, and suffering around the world;
  • Examine the effects of globalization on the world’s oppressed peoples through topics such as gender, class, health, economy, policy and power;
  • Develop teamwork and collaboration skills;
  • Foster critical approaches to travel experiences that mitigate negative impact on communities abroad;
  • Develop self-awareness and strengthen leadership skills;
  • Experience volunteering in local community placements which can lead to a stronger connection within students’ local communities;
  • Gain insight into the connections between local and international development issues;
  • Gain academic credit for pre-departure coursework.


  • Develop critical thinking and reflective thinking skills in practice;
  • Grow in professional development areas provided through work placement;
  • Gain an in-depth insight into a new culture and way of living;
  • Opportunity to gain credit for experiential learning related to specific fields of academic study (ie. PACS field study, research projects, directed studies course, etc.).


For co-op students: If the applicant is a co-op student, the 90-day placement can be counted as a co-op position.


For students pursuing the Global Experience Certificate: this program satisfies the travel requirement of the GEC.

For students pursuing an EDGE certificate: this program can serve as an off-campus experience milestone.


  • Explore methods to integrate and share lessons learned while abroad within the Canadian context;
  • Contribute to the University community’s development in understanding social justice and development practice by participating in talks and conferences
Program Overview
Fall Winter Spring Fall
  • Applications Open in September
  • Applications Close October
  • Interview Period
  • Orientation Meetings: Nov - Dec 
  • Beyond Borders Course (RS 383);
  • Local volunteering (approx. three hours/week);
  • Reading Week Retreat;
  • Pre-Departure Retreat (April);
  • Optional fundraising activities
  • 90 day International Placement
  • Reintegration Retreat (Sept)
Requirements and Cost
Ideal Beyond Borders candidates are students who are looking to engage with an opportunity to learn through experience. In the program, students will be pushed outside of their academic and experiential comfort zones. We are looking for individuals who are willing to have their ideas of social-justice issues challenged. Beyond Borders students are motivated to question why they think the way they do about a range of issues. Furthermore, upon experiencing these challenges, ideal candidates would be open to creating a more malleable perspective through which to experience world issues.
Other Requirements
  • Participants must at least 19 years of age upon departure for their placement.
  • Participants must be a full-time undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo (they do not have to be St. Jerome’s University enrolled)
  • Participants must maintain a minimum of a good academic standing (or receive approval otherwise)
  • Participants must have a valid passport that expires no sooner than 6 months after they would return from placement.
The total cost to students for the Beyond Borders program is $4000. This covers the cost of flights, transfer to placement from airport, any placement fees and accommodations (Note: meal expense coverage is negotiated differently for each placement). 
*If the participant is enrolled academically through St. Jerome’s University, they are eligible to receive a $500 bursary to be applied to the $4000 students are responsible for, leaving $3500 of personal contribution towards this program.
Additional financial support may be available. Please contact Michelle Metzger for details. 
Additional program costs, not included in the totals above, which remain the responsibility of the student include:
  • Police records check for local volunteering
  • Fees for immunizations (costs vary depending on the country)
  • Fees associated with health consultations prior to traveling
  • Travel health insurance
  • Passport Renewal fees
  • Immigration documents and necessary Visas (dependent on placement)
  • Any travel supplies participants would need (ie. luggage, clothing, water sanitation tablets, hygiene products, gear, etc.)
  • Baggage fees not covered by the airline
  • In country ground transportation (e.g daily public transportation to-and-from placement)
  • Personal communication expenses (phone/internet)
  • Some meals (depending on the host arrangement)
  • Any extra-curricular activities students engage with on their own time

Students can expect to enrol in the Beyond Borders course RS 383 during the winter term. In addition, there may be opportunities for students to pursue additional academic credits during their international placement, either related to:

  • the language they will learn and practice while abroad, or,
  • by applying for the experience to qualify for a Peace and Conflicts Studies (PACS) field course.