January 06, 2011

35 CWRU Students Spend Winter Break Abroad

Study abroad in Bangladesh
Deborah Jacobson [top right] traveled with students
last year to Bangladesh and met with women micro-
credit borrowers. She is again in Bangladesh with
students. Photo credit: Dorota Porawska.

While many students are relaxing at home over winter break, 17 Case Western Reserve University students are in Bangladesh and another 18 are in Costa Rica earning course credit and learning about other cultures. The Bangladesh trip, offered through International Education Programs at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, is a three-credit-hour course on Social Development and Micro-finance. Students in Costa Rica are earning three credit hours as they study Health and Health Care in Comparative Perspective: Costa Rica and the United States. The Department of Bioethics’ International Education Programs developed the trip to Costa Rica.

The 17 students, along with two faculty members, left for Bangladesh on Dec. 26 and return Jan. 9. While there, they will spend eight days in the capital and four traveling to villages, hearing lectures, doing field studies and even meeting with the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus. Additionally, they will spend two days at the International Consortium for Social Development, where they will present a faculty/student panel on the program.

Study Abroad Costa Rica
Students traveled to Costa Rica for an Environmental Comm-
unity Service Trip, during which they planted trees at a school
and in Marine National Park.

Thirteen students, one staff member and one faculty member traveled to Costa Rica for a community service opportunity Dec. 27-Jan. 2, during which they helped with environmental stewardship, from beach cleanups to working on school gardens; five more students joined for the course, which takes place Jan. 2-7. The course will have students learning about the health care system in Costa Rica, meeting with social workers and visiting hospitals and rural clinics for a hands-on experience. “Bioethics is a wonderful topic to study in an international context. Issues of life and death, cultural adjustments to technological advances such as genetic engineering, and access to health care are universal themes,” said Stuart J. Youngner, Susan E. Watson Professor and chair of the Department of Bioethics. “Looking at them in another culture gives students the opportunity to see how others think and in doing so, examine their own way of thinking.”

“Travel in and of itself is such an education,” said Michelle Champoir, director of International Education Programs for the Department of Bioethics. “Getting to travel like this, where you have access to experts in their field and institutions that you otherwise could never visit as a tourist is an incredible educational and cultural experience.”

The trips are an alternative to semester-long study abroad experiences by providing a shorter stay (most are approximately 10 days) that is more flexible for Case Western Reserve students’ packed schedules. Additionally, it helps students develop culturally. “The research shows that these kind of programs do a really good job of helping students become globally connected and have a lot more cultural competency. We want our students to be really competent in working with people from different cultures,” said Deborah Jacobson, director of International Education Programs for MSASS and the faculty instructor on the trip to Bangladesh. Plus, she noted: “Literature shows it also helps you get a better understanding of yourself. You can’t really understand your own culture until you understand another culture. It helps people become more independent and self-confident.”

The winter break trips are just two of many study abroad opportunities provided by MSASS or the Department of Bioethics. Both departments have ample study abroad opportunities, where students learn everything from women and community development to death, dying and euthanasia. Through the rest of the school year, MSASS programs will travel to Kenya, Turkey, Guatemala and Amsterdam over spring break and to Ecuador in May, while the bioethics trips will venture to Paris, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Salamanca, Spain, over spring break and to the Netherlands, India and England in the summer. The deadline to apply for trips has been extended to mid-January; find more information on the bioethics site and the MSASS site.

Posted by: Emily Mayock, January 6, 2011 08:00 AM | News Topics: Students

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