Each spring, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at California Baptist University hosts a Global Social Service Practicum for behavioral science, psychology, sociology, anthropology and social work majors.
Students spend the spring semester learning about a chosen theme within a certain culture and visit said culture on a two-week educational field experience that summer. Students accepted into the program for spring 2022 will spend Wednesday mornings from 8:15-9:15 learning about the culture and traditions of indigenous people, specifically the Māori tribe of New Zealand, followed by a visit to the country from May 22 to June 5.
Dr. Douglas Wallace, associate dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, began to think of this Global Social Service Practicum while going on International Service Projects through the university. Wallace said he wants to create a program that added an educational aspect to these cross-cultural experiences.
“[Dr. Carol Minton-Ryan] and I had both led ISP teams at CBU and we enjoyed those tremendously, but we also both thought that it would be amazing to have an academic component to our trip, so that is the reason that we worked together to develop the Global Social Service Practicum,” Wallace said. “I think that it’s important for all undergrad students to consider going on a cross-cultural trip sometime in their educational journey because we are becoming more of a global village. In order to be a productive and effective citizen, you have to understand a little more first-hand how the globe works. These trips are amazing opportunities for that very thing.”
Dr. Minton-Ryan, professor of sociology, also helped find this program and was inspired by her own travels. She saw the differences in culture in these countries compared to our own and knew it would be great for students.
“Initially, the destinations were the result of my travels to Malawi and the Netherlands,” Minton-Ryan said. “I realized the unique opportunities available in Malawi, for example, to not only study food insecurity, but then work with a non-profit to provide food relief to several villages. In the Netherlands, we studied the loss of generation and went to some historical sites of the Holocaust including the Anne Frank house, the Corrie ten Boon house and Westerbork (the concentration camp where the Frank’s were held before being transported to Auschwitz). We also studied the loss of a generation due to Alzheimer’s disease and had the privilege of visiting Hogeweyk Memory Care Village. This is one of the newest developments in housing for those with memory impairment.”
Wallace said this spring’s trip to New Zealand is centered around indigenous people in the country, as well as how the government works in collaboration with the Māori tribe.
“The New Zealand (trip) is built around the ingenious people groups and the way the government has worked with the Māori tribe to build some unity there,” Wallace said. “They’ve got some amazing geothermal environmental stuff that goes along with community building. We also go to Hobbiton, which is where they filmed ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ so we want the students to have an interesting academic experience and a cross-cultural experience, and then also just enjoy the trip.”
The Global Social Service Practicum is one of many opportunities at CBU that is making its return after COVID-19. As travel restrictions tightened all over the world, the program did not take place for two years
“One of the major impacts COVID had was planning on going to Ecuador-Peru,” Wallace said. “We had already been on the familiarization trip, so we vetted the organization, and we had started the class. We were about two months into the class where we were doing team building and learning about Ecuador-Peru, then all of the sudden COVID hit, and nobody was allowed to go anywhere. So, unfortunately, we had to cancel our trip. Our students did get their course fee refunded, but we were all extremely disappointed that we didn’t get to go anywhere.”
Hailey Martin, junior sociology major, is looking into applying to the program. She shared how the trip can be beneficial to both her life and her education.
“I think this program would be such an amazing learning experience in many ways,” Martin said. “I think this program could be beneficial to my education if I were to participate because this experience introduces us to a brand new culture that is vastly different from our own. I have never been able to truly experience another culture so I think this would be beneficial and give me a better appreciation for the life I have here.”
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