Quinn MacIsaac – MacPhee Experience as a Summer Student

The MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning’s commitment to lifelong learning and harnessing individual creativity extends beyond the youth it serves and flows into the lives of staff, volunteers, and everyone else who is part of the community. My experience with the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning has shifted my perspective and provided me with experience that will benefit my future career goals. My journey with the MacPhee Centre began in June 2016, working as a summer student coordinating summer programs. Over the past two years I’ve had the pleasure of working part-time during the school, coordinating evening programs and full-time as a student planning and executing summer programs. I have seen a tremendous amount of growth in the organization, the youth it serves, and myself during my employment with the MacPhee Centre.

Although I am wrapping up my employment with the MacPhee Centre at the end of August 2018, I will continue to carry the many lessons I’ve learned. Working with the MacPhee Centre has provided me with experience that has not only complimented my education, but also helped to guide it. I want to take the time to reflect on how the MacPhee Centre has helped me make necessary choices in my academic career to reflect future employment, how working with the MacPhee Centre has complemented my studies, and the ways that I see my experiences with the MacPhee Centre benefitting my future career.

When I began working at the MacPhee Centre I was in between my third and fourth year at Dalhousie University. During this time, I was set up to graduate the following fall with a double major in International Development Studies and Theatre Arts. I loved the courses I was taking and the content I was learning but found it difficult to find direct links to my field of study and future employment. The MacPhee Centre captured both my love for the arts, cultivated through my theatre arts education and my commitment to social justice, explored through my studies in international development. I went into my fourth year with a newfound excitement for the links between social justice and the arts. I researched and wrote about the use of theatre to help resolve conflict and also a device to help groups navigate the aftermath of conflict. Although I found this research interesting, it was missing the grassroots, local, and community-driven that I love so much about my work with the MacPhee Centre.

While discussing this with a colleague, they suggested that I should think more about the field of social work. Social work provides a number of different opportunities for employment; it was on the groundwork that met individuals, families, and communities where they were at in an effort to build more socially just societies. I felt that this field provided an organic way to combine all my academic interests and would allow me to continue similar work to what I started at the MacPhee Centre. I began the social work program at Dalhousie in fall 2017 and will be starting a student placement in September 2018.  Continuing to work with the MacPhee Centre throughout the first year of my Bachelor of Social Work has been crucial for making connections between literature and lived experiences in my studies.

The MacPhee Centre has taught me the value in considering a diverse number of perspectives. Through considering other perspectives I’ve also learned the value in making decisions that are person-first; always considering the needs of the individuals and communities being served when making decisions. This framework has been instrumental in helping to understand the role of a social worker. Social work is a profession that requires practitioners to look at a system and help folks who are facing hardships or injustices learn how to better navigate that system. The MacPhee Centre has given me experiences that I could use in order to reflect upon when considering social work theory. Using my experiences at the MacPhee Centre as a learning tool have been invaluable and have allowed me to already begin to develop a scope of practice without formally entering the social work profession. Making links between my practical experiences and academics is something that I believe will lead me to being the best social worker I can be.

The profession of social work requires flexibility, creativity, imagination, empathy, professionalism, and above all a firm commitment to social justice. The MacPhee Centre has helped given me practical opportunities to exercise these skills and also instilled values in me that align with creating socially just societies. I feel that the lens of creativity that the MacPhee Centre provides will continue to be beneficial in my line of work. One of the challenges that social workers face is the limitations posed by systems and structures that they must work within. A core belief and access to creativity will help me to navigate and overcome such challenges. I feel that the MacPhee Centre’s flexible nature, commitment to empowering youth, and creative-focus has given me a variety of tools that I will use in the future to help communities thrive!

The MacPhee Centre has been the most incredible opportunity, especially as a student learner. I’ve been able to enhance my learning through all that the community at the MacPhee Centre has provided me. I’ve developed and honed skills that will be instrumental to my future career as a social worker. I have learned more about community-oriented work and how to support the needs of individuals and groups. I’ve also learned a lot about my self, my particular learning style and solidified some strong personal and professional goals. Most of all, I’ve met the most incredible people! To all of the volunteers, board members, staff, parents, youth, and the general community of Dartmouth


– THANK-YOU! This has been a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to continue connecting with the MacPhee Centre as a volunteer and lifelong supporter.