Northeastern University is well known for encouraging students to gain learning experiences abroad, and Service-Learning plays an important role in this opportunity. Read on to learn from some of the faculty members and past and present Service-Learning Student Leaders in our network about their own experiences participating in Service-Learning while abroad in Zambia! To learn more about opportunities in Ecuador,Greece, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, check out our series on the S-Log!
In the past few summers, Professor Lori Gardinier has brought a group of students to Lusaka, Zambia to a Service-Learning integrated Dialogue of Civilization focused on social change, public health, and sustainable development. The dialogue was created by a former Northeastern student who had previously been in a Service-Learning course and later built relationships with NGOs in Zambia throughout her career. Through a partnership with Professor Gardinier, students are able to gain valuable experiences in service-learning while studying abroad. Students are broken up into groups to partner with different organizations supporting varied groups and goals, and the structure of the dialogue focuses on connecting topics learned in class to the time that students spend with these organizations.
Porter Warrick Hess, a former Service-Learning student and the current S-LTA for Rebekah Moore’s Music & Social Justice course, spent her summer in Zambia in 2017 working with Vision of Hope, an organization which provides housing and counseling services for young girls who have experienced sexual violence. Porter and her peers worked on a capacity building project to provide the girls in the shelter with underwear and sanitary pads, as many of them only owned one pair. They collaborated with other individuals in the community to teach the young girls how to sew their own adjustable and reusable underwear and pads in order to create a sustainable solution to the organization’s need. Porter emphasized the importance of creating a long-lasting impact in this country, and shared that “this capacity project worked well because we were teaching the girls an employable skills, empowering them to be resourceful, and ensuring that the project had local connections so it would continue to run when we left,” an important factor considering the short length of the dialogue.
Shelbe Van Winkle, a student who attended the dialogue in the summer of 2015 and now works as the S-LTA for Professor Paula Caligiuri’s Becoming a Global Leader course and a Service-Learning Team Manager, spent her time in Zambia working at the Kondwa School in Lusaka. There, she and her classmates worked to support the teachers by partnering with an occupational therapist and created information booklets to engage students. Through this work, Shelbe met the founder of Modzi, an education based non-profit working to facilitate access to education for vulnerable youth, an organization that she later was able to work for as a co-op in which she continued to work with several of the Zambian students from her dialogue. Additionally, Shelbe continued her time in Zambia as the Teaching Assistant for the Zambian dialogue.
At the end of their trip, the students left their dialogue feeling a much deeper connection to Zambia with great gratitude for their Service-Learning partners. “After loving my Service-Learning partner so much, it made me want to be more involved in the Service-Learning department,” says Porter, “Each of the girls showed so much resilience and it was truly inspiring to spend time with them. I really struggled with leaving my service at the end of the dialogue, as I had become really close with some of the girls.” Upon return to the United States, the students were left with a greater understanding of how people across the globe are affected by social issues, ethics in international volunteerism and foreign nonprofit interventions, and how to successfully collaborate with NGOs. “I learned a lot about sustainable relationships and responsible service through this dialogue,” shares Porter about her experience overall.
Sources: Lori Gardinier, Porter Warrick Hess, Shelbe Van Winkle, and Northeastern University Global Experience Office
Are you inspired to set out on your own Service-Learning journey abroad? Check out these upcoming Dialogue of Civilizations for Summer 2018!
By Service-Learning Program Assistant Asta MacKie