Student Life
About Encounter•KW

Contact Us

Michelle Metzger
Pronoun She/Her
Service Learning Program Coordinator
519-884-8111 x 28282
Image of students laughing
About Encounter•KW
“Through exploring, learning, and serving locally, Encounter•KW provides participants with the opportunity to connect with the community on a deeper level, giving students an opportunity to begin to understand their role in addressing issues relevant to the Kitchener-Waterloo area.”


Encounter•KW lets students engage with experts, practitioners, community outreach programs, and locals focused around the specific theme chosen for the current year. By the end of the experience, participants will have had the opportunity to take a more in-depth look into the complex issues that exist in our own backyard.  

In February of 2016, St. Jerome’s University was successful in launching its inaugural local alternative reading week program called Encounter•KW. A local based, group-facilitated, service learning experience, Encounter•KW 2016 focused on Food Justice, - a topic that had come up repeatedly in an inter-departmental focus group– a topic that was extensive, applicable to students and relevant in the Kitchener/Waterloo community.
In collaboration with St. Jerome’s University Faculty, students were also able to participate in a special topics course where they earned credit for reflecting on their five-day experience and researching a food justice topic – delving deeper into an area from the week that had intrigued them.
Born of the recognition that our students gain better insights into local issues and injustices through experience, Encounter•KW is the result of inter-departmental collaboration at St. Jerome’s University.  Realizing that university students wanted to enhance their local community, and engage locally, this alternative to Reading Week was developed in-house, and saw its inaugural placement in the winter of 2016.

Program Structure:


Encounter•KW includes a special topics course for credit and a 5 day reading week experience in the community.


Successful applicants will be enrolled in the Encounter•KW course in the Fall term. The initial weeks of the course will focus on introducing the social justice issues relevant to the program theme. Coursework following the reading week experience will provide additional content and opportunities for further research and reflection on the experience. Students will receive more detailed information about the course content through the syllabus on their first day of class. 


The reading week experience will involve day-trips to a variety of local community partners. Students will have the opportunity to engage in community service while also learning directly from local leaders who are actively seeking solutions to social justice issues in our own community.


Program Outcomes:


  • Build the capacity to create relationships across differences (ie. social status, diverse backgrounds, programs, etc.)
  • Develop relationships with leaders and staff members of local organizations through networking opportunities
  • Develop team-work and collaboration skills
  • Discover the historical and current context of each issue
  • Identify key populations affected by each issue, and develop insight into the key community members and organizations involved in addressing the issue
  • Identify and articulate the aspects of the issue that are still not being addressed
  • Develop critical thinking and reflective thinking skills through practice
  • Understand personal relationship with the issue and articulate pre-existing biases and assumptions
  • Draw connections between the issue and personal areas of study
  • Develop attainable goals for future action in relation to the issue
Cost and Requirements
An ENCOUNTER•KW student is an individual who is eager to participate in an experiential learning opportunity and is willing to engage with academic content in new, experiential ways. They are motivated to understand how complex social issues are manifested and responded to in the KW region, and willing to have their ideas of social-justice, solidarity, and development challenged. They are open to exploring and articulating their role in personally responding to social issues.
Participants from any faculty are welcome and encouraged to apply to participate in the program. There is no one specific fit for this experience, and a diverse group of participants from a variety of experiences and backgrounds is welcomed as a way to enrich discussion.
  • Participants must be undergraduate students (but do not have to be SJU enrolled).
  • Participants must maintain a minimum of good academic standing
Program fees for early bird applicants: $100 
Program fees for regular applicants: $125 
(For application details, including dates and deadlines, follow the links on the left) 
Program fees cover the cost of transportation and student meals during the reading week experience. It does not cover the tuition cost of registering for the course.