WSU Facilitates Service Abroad This Summer
OGDEN, Utah — This summer, Weber State University volunteers, including the university president, will travel to Ghana and Mozambique to provide service and education to communities and citizens of Africa. Additional service efforts from the university will benefit schoolchildren in Thailand and Ecuador.
Medical Assistance in Ghana
On May 17, a team of 20 volunteers, including WSU President Charles A. Wight and his wife Victoria Rasmussen, will travel to Ghana as part of a study abroad trip. Volunteers will offer community health education courses, free medical clinics and education for healthcare workers. The team also will aid in a variety of health and art projects in three rural primary schools.
Trip director Lisa Trujillo, WSU respiratory therapy associate professor, has extensive knowledge and experience with service work in Ghana. In 2016, she helped the University of Ghana implement the country’s first and only respiratory therapy degree program. She has traveled to Ghana 20 times in the past decade, often bringing WSU students who gain international experience in underserved communities. She is pleased to welcome the university president and his wife as trip participants.
“We feel it is a great opportunity for them to see firsthand the hard work our students put into study abroad and international service experiences,” Trujillo said.
This is Wight’s first international service trip with WSU. While in Ghana, he will teach short courses on malaria prevention and represent the Rotary Club of Ogden, which is a trip sponsor. He will also meet with leaders at the University of Ghana to discuss their respiratory therapy program, which has received development support from WSU.
“Victoria and I are delighted to participate in this service adventure with students and faculty from the respiratory therapy program,” Wight said.
Those participating in the month-long trip will leave for Ghana May 17 and have the option to return to the U.S. June 10 or spend an additional week in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to return June 17.
Educational Resources for Mozambique
From May 11-June 2, Weber State faculty, along with 31 students and alumni, will help build a library and two classrooms for the Eduardo Mondlane secondary school in Mozambique. The school currently has 50 students per class, and the additions will help alleviate overcrowding. The added space will also allow grades 11 and 12 to be offered at the school.
Julie Rich, geography professor; Jeremy Farner, design engineering technology associate professor and Mike Moon, Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) assistant director, will host the trip. The service team has raised $57,000 to build the school structures and has partnered with the nonprofit organization No Poor Among Us to complete the humanitarian effort.
Moon said the projects will promote a quality education, which is one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty. In addition to benefitting the people of Mozambique, Moon said participating WSU students gain important experience in helping others.
“Our WSU students get immersed in another culture much different from their own,” Moon said. “While they learn about the geography, construction, politics and historical facts of Mozambique and Southern Africa, they also learn about proper ways to address critical community needs. They return to Ogden equipped with the confidence and knowledge to step in and meet those needs on a local level.”
Past WSU volunteers already have witnessed the success of service in Mozambique. In 2014, volunteers helped build the Boane Women’s Center. Since its construction, the facility has trained more than 450 women in business skills, micro-finance, sewing and culinary arts. In a nation where only 50 percent of females are literate, the Boane Women’s Center has provided vital educational resources. To view a documentary on this service project, visit weber.edu/ccel/global.html.
Teaching English in Thailand
For the past two academic years, computer science students from the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology have worked with nonprofit organizations and primary schools in Phuket, Thailand, to use custom-built Android apps to teach English communication skills.
The goal is to provide opportunities to learn English, so children can attend universities in Thailand, which require English proficiency, or obtain well-paying jobs within the local tourism and hospitality industries.
To support the effort, Richard Fry, computer science associate professor, recently led a trip to Thailand where he and his students helped provide technology to improve English proficiency. He is now collaborating with professors from the College of Education to create software to digitalize native Thai folklore. The software will convert stories into interactive Android apps for Thai elementary students to practice English skills. Fry plans to make another trip to Thailand this summer to interview Thai children and collect more information for the project.
Service from Home to Benefit Ecuador
In 2016, zoology students from the College of Science, under the direction of zoology professor Sam Zeveloff, raised money for the Otonga Foundation, a conservation organization in Ecuador. A portion of the donated proceeds was used to purchase backpacks, which were given to 90 native Otonga children to use on their first day of school, which began just after Easter weekend in March.
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