Service learning trips have been a part of Malone for over 12 years as part of the center for cross-cultural engagement. At the program’s inception, professors would decide to take trips to different areas and students would come with them. Then, about 10 years ago, Malone decided to reorient this program with the result being service learning trips, which combine serving God in a cross-cultural setting with a commitment to learning.
Most service learning trip teams are composed of 8 to 12 students. This year the center for cross-cultural engagement is sending out five teams for spring semester and had a team go during Christmas break. The teams this year are going to Guatemala, Germany, Romania, Thailand and Zimbabwe.
Ryan Donald, director of the center for cross-cultural engagement, said that service learning trips are tied to Malone’s identity and are at the core of what Malone tries to accomplish in their curriculum.
For the students that go on these trips, Donald said he wants them to “go with hearts and minds of service and also being open to learning.” Donald also said service learning trips allow students to see the “world as a part of God’s kingdom and continue the focus and desire to see the world engaged with God.”
“[Service learning trips] give students the opportunity to use their interests and gifts and major to make a difference,” said Donald.
Over spring break, there is a team going to Guatemala where they will work at a hospital in a local village. Erin Friday, junior nursing major, is one of the six students going on this trip along with two staff leaders. In addition to learning more about medicine through their work in the village, student will also travel to the Mayan ruins, Tikal.
“I hope to have a better idea of the world and the different health care needs,” Friday said.
Friday said she has never been out of the country before, but said she thinks that this will be a great opportunity to see if she wants to pursue medical missions.
In May, another service learning team is going to Thailand to work with an organization called Remember Nhu in Chiang Mai. There are 10 students going on the trip that will work with the children at the organization as well as with victims of sex trafficking in the Red Light district.
Emily Jacobs, junior math education major, is one participant. Jacobs said she hopes to better understand the lifestyle in Thailand as a result of the trip.
“The experience will be much different from just hearing about it,” said Jacobs.
Another team will travel to Germany in May. This is the second time that Malone has taken a service learning team to Germany. Iris McCarty, office manager and coordinator of test services in the center for student success, is co-leading this trip with Ann Lawson, communication arts instructor.
McCarty said she was drawn toward taking a team to Germany in May not only to work with her home church in Nuremburg, but also for the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenburg which began the Protestant Reformation.
McCarty said she is excited for this trip and the opportunity it presents for future service learning trips.
“This is an opportunity for the students to see how other countries handle service,” said McCarty.
The 12 students, along with McCarty and Lawson, will serve with a parish in Nuremburg doing whatever work they are offered. Whether it is working in the daycare center, serving in the soup kitchen or pulling weeds, McCarty said she is looking forward to this opportunity.
“I hope that students gain an appreciation for travel, an openness to other cultures and an awareness what “being a Christian” can look like outside of the United States,” said Lawson.
Courtney Baker is a guest writer for The Aviso