Current Students
About Encounter•KW

Current Students

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Michelle Metzger
Service Learning Program Coordinator
519-884-8111 x 28282
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About Encounter•KW
“Through exploring, learning, and serving locally, Encounter•KW provides participants with the opportunity to connect directly with the community, and encourages students 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. Through each experience, participants have the opportunity to take a more in-depth look into the complex issues that exist in our own backyard.  


In this series of complimentary one-day experiences, students can engage in one, many, or all the program offerings. In doing so, participants will develop a constellation of experiences that sheds light on the social justice issue at hand. 

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.
Today, in an effort to make Encounter•KW even more accessible, the program has evolved into a series of one-day offerings that students can engage with throughout the year. Within a given term, each Encounter•KW day allows students to explore the chosen theme from a different perspective. Students can engage with one, many, or all of the Encounter•KW days as they're able, since each experience is designed to be both stand-alone and complimentary to the others. With each encounter, students grow and deepen their understandings of the justice issue at hand. 

Program Structure:


Each Encounter•KW day includes a short preparatory workshop, a service-oriented day trip to a local community organization, and the opportunity to reflect collectively on the experience.


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
An Encounter•KW student is an individual who is eager to participate in an experiential learning opportunity. 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.

Any UWaterloo undergraduate student from any faculty is welcome and encouraged to participate. 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.
There is no program fee for Encounter•KW.  


Current Students