Students Combine Studying Abroad With Service Learning

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

Last month, 16 Valencia students, led by Professor of Reading Liz Earle and Professor of Student Life Skills Christy Cheney, participated in an international service-learning study abroad trip in Italy.

In Sicily, students learned about the difficulties faced by immigrants who are seeking to integrate in a new environment. They heard from a man who explained his journey from the Congo to Italy, as well as from a woman who works with women who have been part of the sex trade. The students also spent a day at Casa delle Farfalle, a regional park near the base of Mt. Etna in Sicily, learning how they help to maintain biodiversity of butterflies, insects and plants. A hike to the summit of an extinct volcano for a clear view of Mt. Etna was exhausting but thrilling.

In Rome, students helped clean a kitchen and worked side-by-side with migrants preparing the evening’s dinner. They also heard from a man who described his difficult journey from his home country to Italy and the process of integrating into Italian society and becoming employed. Other students created a podcast, sharing their reflections and personal connections to immigration.

Students’ personal and educational growth went beyond their expectations, and they came home not only motivated to learn more about the immigration process, but also to get involved in helping those in need.

Below are a few testimonials from our study abroad students.

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