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Black Hills State University students Kristin Rath, physical science composite major from Canton; Rachel Crawford, chemistry major from Spearfish; Madison Jilek, chemistry major from Spearfish; and recent BHSU graduate Brett Montieth, visit Gaborone Secondary School in Botswana, Africa this week. The group worked with students to develop a service learning program that will be implemented at BHSU.

 

A group of Black Hills State University students, faculty and staff are at Botho University in Botswana this week, finalizing plans for a service learning trip that will provide experimental education opportunities for BHSU students to address human and community needs, globally.

“This experience will provide us with a different perspective on education and how our education at BHSU can make an impact, globally,” said Kristin Rath, physical science composite major from Canton. “I’m looking forward to experiencing our partner school’s culture and geography. It’s completely different than anything I have ever encountered.”

The group is visiting with Gaborone Secondary School in Botswana to meet with teachers to discuss the focus for the Service Learning trip next year that will give BHSU students the opportunity to teach and interact with high school students. This will be the first ever service learning opportunity for BHSU students in an African country.

“Service learning identifies a topic generally centered on health, wellness, sustainability and the impact one has on their environment,” said Dr. Lois Flagstad, vice president of Enrollment and Student Affairs at BHSU. “The emphasis of empowering others is a learning experience for everyone involved. We received an invitation to meet with school officials who have specific ideas for us to meet the needs of their students.”

The service learning project, planned for May 2016, will be part of a new International Service Learning Program at BHSU. Throughout the semester, a cohort of students will work together on a cultural project before traveling abroad with a faculty-led group. The program will provide an integrated opportunity for students to engage with various cultures, which prepares them as global citizens.

Students and faculty also will attend the 2015 Botho University International Research Conference Nov. 5-6. The students and faculty will meet with undergraduate researchers from around the world and share their own research experiences at BHSU.

International studies are a key for graduates’ success, said Dr. Katie Wildman, director of International Relations & Global Engagement at BHSU. The trip abroad will allow BHSU students to create global connections, as well as recruit potential international exchange students to attend BHSU.

“The experiences our BHSU Botswana team will experience are profound,” said Dr. Katie Wildman, director of International Relations and Global Engagement at BHSU. “Traveling has a way of encouraging challenge and finding pleasant surprises. Being in a different culture provides the opportunity for self-reflection and the ability for participants to compare and contrast the society they are visiting with their home culture.”