August 7, 2020
When Covid-19 struck in March 2020, and shutdowns suddenly occurred everywhere, even the university closed down, and most students returned home.
However, about 60 international students were stranded at the University of Guelph and could not get home for various reasons. Since then, life has been been difficult for these young students, isolated on campus in Guelph with little to do and far from home.
So how did a bunch of them end up participating in a Rotary Online Painting Class, led by Ben McCarl from the Rotary Club of Guelph, learning to paint this Night Sky scene?
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Hayley McNamara, the caring Residence Program Coordinator at University of Guelph's Student Housing, contacted a number of local organizations to ask if they could offer any kind of support to the stranded students.
The Rotary Club of Guelph wondered about arranging an "art class" and turned to our resident expert and member, Ben McCarl for his thoughts. With his typical generosity and creativity, he quickly offered to run an online painting session to create a Night Sky picture. 
On Friday evening, August 7th, about 20 participants joined the online painting class, had a wonderful time with Ben and each other, and produced some fabulous results. The event was so successful it is likely to be repeated. Special thanks to Ben for his gentle tutoring, and to Joanna Penfold for helping to organize the free painting kits for the students and liaising with Hayley at the university. 
Behind the scenes, there is always quite a lot of work in organizing activities such as this. Between Joanna and Ben, they managed to get some art materials donated, and purchased others at a discount. "Night Sky Paint Kits" were made up and delivered to the University several days in advance, per the university's Covid protocols. A number of Rotarians and friends also signed up for the class, chatting with the students as they all worked. 
Here are some of the successes from the art class. Ben McCarl is very impressed by his students' work! And we are impressed by our Rotarians delivering Service Above Self once again.