Study Abroad and Service Learning Amid Covid-19

By Trinity Hobbs

Malone University provides several opportunities for students to study abroad or take part in service learning experiences. COVID-19 has unfortunately interfered with students’ abilities to study abroad this year. Hope is not lost, however; Malone has some unique options that students can partake in during the spring semester of 2021. “[Study abroad opportunities are] an opportunity to have a semester outside of Malone to be able to get a unique cultural experience while you learn,” said Ashley Zehr, a senior social work major. She was supposed to go to Romania during the spring semester of 2021, but the trip has been canceled due to COVID-19. Zehr had planned on completing her full-time social work internship in Romania. She would have been working with gypsies in one of the villages while serving them in the best way possible. She has mixed feelings about the trip being canceled, but she expected the announcement in light of the pandemic. “[Studying abroad] provides a broader understanding of the world; it is a chance to put yourself aside and be willing to share what America is like, as well as learning about what other people’s countries are like,” Zehr said. She has been able to experience many different study abroad opportunities in places such as Brazil, Ghana, Mozambique as well as others. Zehr plans on continuing to experience other countries by being a missionary. “[Service learning] is an opportunity to serve and grow as a Christian while learning about other cultures,” said Sophia Van Engan, sophomore global and international studies and social work double major, who went on a service learning trip to Poland her freshman year. Van Engan chose to travel initially for sightseeing purposes, but upon attending a meeting about different opportunities, she came to the conclusion that it was God calling her to experience service learning for herself. COVID-19 has affected the study abroad and service learning programs, especially amidst the unknowns of when the pandemic will end. In addition to the desire to keep students safe, Malone is also under limitations imposed by other countries that do not allow outsiders to cross their borders without a visa. Studying abroad is required for global and international studies majors and minors, but students in other areas of study can receive general education and Pendle Hill Pledge credit under the “experiential learning” category for studying abroad as well. Students often decide to study abroad to learn a different language or take classes that relate to their specific major. “I believe in the beneficial impact that [studying abroad] has on students,” Elizabeth Patterson Roe, director of the Center for Intercultural Studies and professor of social work said. She herself studied abroad in Romania during her senior year, which inspired earning her master’s in social work. Patterson Roe gets creative looking for ways that she can provide students with experiences to learn about different cultures. Immigration service learning, where students build relationships with immigrants in Canton and the surrounding, areas is one of them. Another opportunity that students can participate in is an urban Canton spring break with Lighthouse Ministries where local speakers will present social justice topics. Students will also serve and be able to educate themselves on how they can support organizations in Canton. Students Log on to interact with other classmates. If students are interested in this option, they can consider registering for SOSC 212 A and SOSC 213 B for the spring semester of 2021 and should stay tuned for more details concerning those options. COVID-19 has not stopped Malone from providing their students with possibilities to grow and have memories to share about their experiences with intercultural studies. Study abroad administrators and faculty will be discussing programs that students can use to study abroad as well as some of the countries students can travel to.

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