Africa-next destination for Campbell Study Abroad program

June 10, 2009 | Leave a Comment

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Buies Creek, N.C.-Bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Zambia, and Mozambique to the South, Tanzania is the home of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Victoria, the source of the River Nile, and the Serengeti, one of the world's largest game sanctuaries. But Campbell University professors Debora Weaver and Donna Waldron didn't travel to the African country for beauty or exotic game. They were on a fact-finding trip to launch an intensive new service-oriented Study Abroad program.

Weaver, an associate professor of Biological Sciences and Waldron, assistant professor of English and director of Campbell's Study Abroad program, were scouting out potential sites that would provide pre-med and Allied Health students with extensive "service" or "experiential" learning opportunities.

"We want to take small groups of students over so that they can do service learning in a clinical setting," said Weaver, who lived in Tanzania in 1991 and taught biochemistry to medical students in the main referral hospital in Dar Es Salaam.

Campbell places great emphasis on the servant leadership role in society and encourages students through activities and academics to apply this model to their own lives. "The objective of the Study Abroad program at Campbell is to develop these types of educational enrichment programs for students," Waldron said.

On May 5, the professors flew to Moshi near the Kenyan border and took a bus around Lake Victoria to Musoma. There they identified two sites that would be appropriate for pre-med and Allied Health service learning experiences, one at Shirati and another at the City of Hope. The City of Hope is a self-sustaining village, housing 300 AIDS orphans, which focuses on green farming and education. In September a new district hospital is also set to open in the region supported by the interdenominational, non-profit organization Teamwork Ministries.

The other site, the Sota Medical Clinic, is located in the rural village of Shirati in northwest Tanzania bordered by Lake Victoria near the Kenya-Tanzania border. It is operated and supported by SHEDF (Shirati Health, Education and Development Foundation), a non-profit, non-governmental organization.

"Both of these sites would provide students with a variety of opportunities," said Weaver. "They can work in the clinics, in agriculture, conduct educational workshops on general health, teach English as a second language and in many other areas."

The sites also have guest houses on the premises where students can board.

"It's a Study Abroad mandate to actually ‘see' these places where we are sending our students, to negotiate with vendors for lodging and food," said Waldron. "We also have to investigate the sites for safety and learning opportunities."

This Study Abroad program will be part of a one-month academic course targeting health and science majors taught during spring semester. Students will receive six hours of course credit and perform service learning responsibilities in Tanzania as part of their course requirements.

"I really like this idea because it exposes students to cultures and issues in developing countries where the Study Abroad program has never been before," Weaver said. "It helps broaden their world view. As health providers they will be working with a diverse community in the United States. This program will help students understand how to work with those communities."

"It also helps the university expand on our mission-using our academic, intellectual and physical abilities to serve the needs of the world," Waldron added. "This will be a different kind of international experience for students."

The Tanzanian program was approved for development by the Study Abroad Committee during 2008. After Weaver and Waldron present their findings and the program undergoes further clarification, the Tanzanian Study Abroad program should be set to launch in 2010.

"This is not a tourist program," Weaver warned. "We are interested in students who are academically rigorous and serious about service. We hope to build an ongoing relationship with these sites and return to them in future years."

Photo Copy: Dr. Debora Weaver holds an African child on a fact-finding trip to Tanzania for Campbell University's Study Abroad program.

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