Two hundred and fifty students and faculty of the Adventist University Center of Sao Paolo (UNASP) in Brazil are spending their winter vacation in volunteer projects across four continents. According to organizers, 14 locations in 8 countries will benefit from their acts of service.
“Each student will spend 15 to 20 vacation days to do good for others,” said UNASP’s associate dean of spiritual and community development, Jael Aeneas. “It is something that not only highlights a culture of bringing classroom teaching to the local community in outreach activities but creates an identity of social transformation in each person.”
Aeneas explained that “by volunteering, each participant not only serves for the good of others but also benefits personally.”
Destinations for projects selected this year by the school include various locations across Brazil and also in Angola, Chile, Cyprus, Egypt, Ireland, Paraguay, and New York, United States. School leaders explained that several of the locations selected are receiving volunteer groups for the first time. In each of these sites, they added, UNASP volunteers are supporting church and school building projects, evangelistic meetings, and work with children, according to local needs.
An Official Policy
On June 26, 2019, the UNASP Board of Trustees voted the Volunteer Education Policy, which acknowledges those volunteer service hours as complementary for undergraduate courses. The new policy describes volunteer service as “any action by the student who, due to an individual or the school interest, devotes part of his time in various forms of unpaid activities to promote social welfare.”
School officers explained that to get those hours validated, students who get involved in approved projects must serve under one of the school faculty members. It is the role of the school to put the service opportunities together and coordinate the logistics of each project, they reported.
For those who are interested in this kind of initiative and wish to pursue a career in the field, UNASP offers a Master of Business Administration degree in leadership and volunteer management. The goal of the degree is to train leaders to coordinate volunteer projects, teaching them how to generate commitment, together with planning and project management skills. The school also offers an MBA in volunteer management and social projects. The degree includes courses related to leadership training, commitment, project planning, and management skills in volunteering, school leaders said.