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Loyalist student to help abroad

By Shelby Wye

The idea of travel often corresponds with images of iconic buildings, white beaches and pure relaxation. Emily Smith van Beek thinks otherwise.

Travelling represents the opportunity to change lives, and help others. Smith van Beek has seen the Eiffel tower and Jamaica’s tropics, but it’s the idea of helping towns under pressure that really gives her satisfaction.

“It’s absolutely a waste of money to visit these countries stricken by poverty and devastation just for the tourist spots and your relaxation,” said Smith van Beek.

She wants people to enjoy their vacations, but remember that the reason to travel is to take in new culture.

“Visiting the tourist spots is not the same as seeing the native culture,” said Smith van Beek.

Smith van Beek is a student at Loyalist College, taking part in the International Support Workers program. The program annually visits a location of a different culture. This year it’s Chiapas, Mexico.

“I’ve been excited for this trip since I was accepted into the program,” said Smith van Beek.

The students will immerse themselves with native families and participate in their day-to-day work and their lifestyle. They have many opportunities in this town to participate in a variety of organizations.

Before they leave, Smith van Beek and those in her program have some work to do in Belleville first. They are hosting an event night to raise funds for human rights centre in Chiapas, called FRAYBA. The night consists of guest speakers who will touch on local issues of migrant workers and food security, and how these issues affect Belleville.

The event takes places on November 30th, in Loyalist’s Alumni Hall.  Smith van Beek encourages students to take part and learn more about social issues in their own town. It’s also for students to be aware of the ISW program does and how fun it is to be part of the program.

The program is a one-year postgraduate. Smith van Beek completed a BA in political sciences, with a minor in film studies before coming to Loyalist.

Smith van Beek plans to apply her former education everywhere she can while she takes this trip. Her interest in political sciences brought her to this program in the first place, and her minor in film studies is what inspires her to host her blog.

Smith van Beek vlogs regularly, and is going to continue to do so while she lives in Chiapas. She will be updating her fans with vlogs of her experiences on napemily.tumblr.com.

The class of seven will be visiting Chiapas, Mexico, under the guidance of their professor Kate Rodgers. They leave January 24.