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Best Practices for International Service-Learning

Abstract

Implementing service-learning courses is a highly rewarding, yet, sometimes challenging undertaking. A service-learning course abroad has the potential to lead to an even more life-changing educational experience than a domestic SL course, but the possible complications can also be more plentiful. Globalization opens new avenues and demands for SL abroad, and this panel will help participants navigate international SL courses - from the initial step to post-assessment. The panel will offer several different perspectives, incorporating both faculty and staff members. It will involve a service-learning director (Kimberly Mannahan, College of Coastal Georgia) and an international director (Adam Johnson, College of Coastal Georgia) to address the pedagogical and administrative sides of SL courses abroad. These two directors will focus mostly on devising such courses and the necessary steps for their successful launch. The organizer of the panel (Orsolya Kolozsvari, Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of Coastal Georgia) will also concentrate on the initial stages of drawing up service-learning courses abroad, for instance, choosing community partners, course outcomes, and preparing a study-abroad service-learning proposal. These issues will be illustrated through key points in a proposal for a service-learning sociology course in Hungary. The panel will also feature two participants who will discuss later stages in international service-learning projects: their actual implementation and post-assessment. Carly Redding, Assistant Professor of Human Services, University of North Georgia has ample experience with international SL courses. Over eight weeks during 2014 and 12 weeks in 2015 faculty members and students from the University of North Georgia had the opportunity to access one of the highly trafficked communities of Goa, India in order to conduct research and provide services as part of a multi-year cooperative agreement between the university and a local NGO. In order to receive credit students must take two courses (6 credit hours) and provide 200 hours of service learning once in India. Dr. Redding believes that the greatest reward of international service-learning is the positive growth and transformation that students seem to undergo in a short amount time. The main challenge in this particular area of India is the lack of what most students consider basic needs and comforts of home. Later students adjust, and it becomes exceptionally difficult for them to return to a life most consider privileged. The last panelist, Thomas R. Hochschild, Assistant Professor (Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Valdosta State University) is a now seasoned international service-learning pioneer as well. He recommends that all international SL courses should ideally be grounded in social science. He has designed and implemented an urban social problems service-learning course in St. Petersburg, Russia, primarily focusing on homelessness. He utilized ethnographic studies, statistical data, sociological theories, class discussions, videos, guest speakers, personal journal reflections, and, of course, community service to create a dynamic learning experience. Along with the other panelists, his focus will be mostly on rewards and challenges that carrying out an SL course abroad presents

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Last time updated on 17/10/2019

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