Cross-cultural experience through service
Through a grant secured from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Lynchburg College sponsored its first ever international service-learning program in 2008, which took place on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia where the College already had a well-established partnership with the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Since the inception of the international service-learning program, nearly 90 LC students have engaged in service in St. Lucia, India, and Uganda, under the direction of seven faculty members from five academic disciplines ranging from international relations to health promotion to education.
In 2008 and 2009, LC nursing and education students conducted school-readiness screenings for more than 450 pre-school aged children to assess their physical and cognitive development as a service to the St. Lucia Ministry of Education and Culture. International relations students also participated in the program, and they students assisted with classroom instruction, took part in beautification projects at local schools and community centers, and engaged in community activism by helping young students plan a "Word Jam" to celebrate St. Lucia's literary heritage.
As LC's partnership with St. Lucia continued to evolve, the Ministry of Tourism expressed interest in having LC faculty and students produce a documentary to highlight St. Lucia's culture. In 2010, communication studies students under the direction of Mr. Adam Dean produced a documentary on music in St. Lucia with emphasis on country music and its rising popularity in St. Lucia.
St. Lucia program faculty and staff: Dr. Glenn Buck (education), Mr. Adam Dean (communication studies), Ms. Kathy Husted (education), Dr. Sabita Manian (international relations), Ms. Marvalin Nelson, MEd '09 (on-site coordinator), Ms. Beverly Pfluger '06, MEd '09 (Bonner Leaders Program), and Dr. David Richards (international relations)
This project has been directed by associate professor of health and physical education, Dr. Todd Olsen. An epidemiologist, Dr. Olsen has extensive experience in the Gulu region of Uganda, and works closely with the Sports Outreach Institute (headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia), which has offered humanitarian assistance to the people of the Gulu region for over 25 years. Since the summer of 2008, four LC students and members of the local community have traveled to Gulu with Dr. Olsen and the Sports Outreach Institute. While in Gulu, they worked in local villages to address public health and community development. As a direct result of three service learning trips to Uganda, over 100 Ugandans received Lynchburg College certificates in health and wellness training, particularly addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, nutrition, child and maternal health, mental health, and safe water.
As an on-campus outgrowth of the Ugandan service-learning projects, the College sponsors an annual Gifts for Gulu Sports Festival, which features a 5K run to raise money and supplies for Ugandan projects. In spring 2010, the College sponsored another fundraiser, Water for Life/Wading In, to specifically raise funds to build wells in villages in Gulu. These on-campus events raised a total of $6,800 to enhance Ugandan projects of interest to the College.
Uganda program faculty: Dr. Todd Olsen (health and physical education)
LC sponsored its first service-learning program to India during winter break 2009-10. Under the direction of Dr. Sabita Manian, 12 students traveled to India and worked with the HOPE Foundation in its efforts in Chennai and nearby Pudupattinam. Between the two sites, students and faculty engaged in classroom instruction with disadvantaged children. The group also donated school and personal hygiene supplies to the schools where they conducted their service. Upon their return, the students undertook fundraising efforts, both on campus and in the local community, and raised a total of $1054 to help build a school in Chennai, a sign of continued partnership and sustainability. Dr. Manian plans to work with the HOPE Foundation on future service-learning programs in India.
India program faculty: Dr. Sabita Manian (international relations) and Dr. Brian Crim (history)