Students will just cover the cost of tuition for 3 months
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience and reflection; the process is active, participatory and challenging. At StFX, experiential learning is embodied through the Service Learning program. Service Learning has blended practical manifestations of various academic studies with community engagement to round-out the undergraduate experience of many students. While Service Learning has been instrumental in integrating students within the Antigonish community at large, Immersion Service Learning has expanded to supplement theoretical learning about complex social issues with immersion in different cultures, globally.
Typically, Immersion Service Learning has been a facilitated week in a community. Service Learning has since expanded to include longer placements; the newest opportunity being a 12-week endeavour to Ghana in West Africa, in conjunction with a six credit IDS course “Contemporary Issues and Service Learning in Ghana.” A cohort of 8 students attended a very similar service learning experience in the summer of 2016 with StFX professor Dr. Jonathan Langdon and Coleman Agyeyomah. The program has since gone on to be fully-funded, meaning students will only be responsible for tuition for the credit course.
Lyndsay Scovil (StFX ’17), embarked on the Ghana experience in 2016 where she completed a placement in the most Northern Region of the country at a civil society organization called Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA).
Lyndsay explained, “participating in the Ghana Service Learning Experience taught me so much about community development, as well as the importance of critically reflecting on mainstream knowledge and being respective to other perspectives and ways of thinking. I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend in Ghana and for the community organizations that welcomed us. I learned more in this short time than I ever would have in a classroom. This experience challenged me to step outside my comfort zone, expand both my personal and academic horizons, and provided me with knowledge that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
As a Political Science major, Lyndsay was able to supplement her classroom learning with practical experience in advocating for equitable allocation of state resources, for transparent and accountable government at local and national levels, monitoring public resources and developing strategies in citizen-led mobilizations to take responsibility in their own communities.
What is interesting to note about this experience is that it is designed for students from a wide variety of disciplines. While Lynsday was a political science major, students attending can choose their placements based on their individual disciplinary interests and focus on elements that connect with their learnings. For instance, Education students can study the policy of free compulsory universal basic education; Business students can focus on the entrepreneurship of the National Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty program; Nursing students can focus on the policies of the National Health Insurance Scheme; Biology students can focus on small-scale farming, natural resource management and environmental impacts; and Arts students can focus on local government, social and gender dynamics, communications and media or community mobilization. Of course, participants do not need to choose their placements based on their disciplines but the structure of the program allows for this availability.
Current student, Megan Langhorne offered some insights on her experience, also during 2016, in which she focused on women’s agency and organization.
“Going to Ghana was an amazing experience for me. Living there for two months allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and experience how Ghanaians live. I was forced to do things outside of my comfort zone, which allowed me to grow as a person. I met so many brave women in Ghana who are working to improve the lives of other women. I worked with an NGO that helps women by bringing them together to become empowered to demand for their rights, improve their health, and build credit to start their own businesses. An incredibly strong and determined woman who did not let anyone take advantage of her, despite working a field dominated by men, ran the NGO. The experiences that I had and the people I met in Ghana inspired me to be involved in the fight for development and equality. Because of the experience, I applied to law school so that I can some day go back and help the people I met continue to improve the lives of others.”
This year’s program will run from April 30 to July 28, 2018 with the first week being intensive training in Antigonish followed by 12 weeks in Ghana completing the course and respective service learning placements. Any undergraduate student can apply if they are entering their third year or above in the 2018-2019 school year. Applications are open with the deadline to apply being March 23. Again, this experience is fully-funded meaning flights, in country accommodations, meals and transportation, all course related activities, field trips and placements will be covered. Students will only be responsible for the 6-credit tuition and appropriate immunizations and passport fees. For more information on this dynamic opportunity please visit https://sites.stfx.ca/service_learning/node/130.html.