Dan Wilson is a former Downtown Eastside resident who now resides in South Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood. He is a graduate of the SFU Literacy Lives Community Capacity Building Program and Humanities 101. HIs project from literacy lives is "Positive Paid Work", an employment agency for HIV-positive people. He wrote a personal account of his experiences in Humanities 101 during his time in our Community Journalism 101 class:
Humanities 101 — ‘Hum’ for short — is a community education programme for residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and Downtown South (DTES/South), sponsored by UBC's Faculty of Arts. Participants are DTES/South residents with diverse backgrounds and knowledge who lust for learning, enjoy and value being part of intellectual and activist communities, and live with very low incomes and other barriers to education.
About 600 people have graduated from Hum's three university-level courses held at the UBC campus, and more enjoy its Public Programmes at Carnegie Centre and The Gathering Place.
Hum’s Steering Committee of graduates guides all aspects of this responsive, situated and supportive community programme. Now 13 years young, and the oldest programme of its kind in Canada, Hum is good friends with its growing number of sister programmes across the country.
I have been involved with Humanities 101 for five years, as both a student and a mentor, having taken Humanities 101, Humanities 201 and the writing courses. On a personal level, I absorbed the eagerness of fellow students to learn and feel they belong.
In the day of Arab Spring revolts and the Occupy movements, the enthusiasm of Hum students to help the community really shines. Whereas the Arab Spring was and is a revolution for freedom, I feel our culture is losing its values in favour of large corporations’ values. The 99 per cent are being taxed and penalized for corporate greed’s mistakes.
As a society I believe we are becoming cynical, many feeling that their Canadian Dream will not materialize. Positive results come out of attending to the person as a worthy human being rather than a consumer who has to be sold materialism at every opportunity. Humanities 101 fulfills those results.