Journalism students reflect on a weekend spent on the streets

By Kimberly Melo and Cheryl Walsh

EDMONTON — Grant MacEwan journalism students spent two nights living on the streets in Edmonton’s inner city back in October. Now, as the semester draws to a close, they have an opportunity to share it with their West Edmonton Local readers.

Poverty Story

Grant MacEwan journalism students on Day 2 of the street retreat in Edmonton's inner city on October 15, 2011. Photograph by Trevor Robb

The weekend was divided into three parts. The first night, about 14 students experienced what it was like to wait in a meal line and have dinner at the Mustard Seed drop-in.

The second day was a full day living on the streets with no money, no cellphones and nowhere to go.

The third day consisted of a social issues walk where they were guided around the city by a Mustard Seed employee to gain a better understanding of what goes on in Edmonton’s inner city on a day-to-day basis.

The social issues walk gave the students a lot of insight and they learned about social issues.

“I had no idea what to expect when I handed the teaching reins over to poverty and shared the teaching experience with the Mustard Seed, but these students’ stories about the impact of the experience went beyond what I had ever hoped to achieve as their teacher,” said instructor Karen Zypchyn in her blog post commemorating the experience. Zypchyn was the creativity and driving force behind the whole project.

Here’s what their weekend looked like and where it took them:

A few weeks after the retreat, each member in the group volunteered six hours of his or her own time to come and give back to the Mustard Seed. When that was all done, they came one night and prepared a meal of pita pizzas, salad and banana splits for dessert.

The students also created radio pieces for CBC Radio, which were featured on the CBC website in support of the annual Turkey Drive. A few selected pieces were aired on CBC radio as well.

Trevor Robb, former MacEwan journalism student and the photographer behind this experience, also wrote an account of the weekends events. Click here to read his story.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at the Mustard Seed, contact Sarah Nicolai-deKoning at 780-436-5600.