16 Students Participate in Service Learning in Guatemala

By Purnell T. Cropper | January 25, 2011

By Sarah R. Schwartz ’10

Sixteen students joined Terry Greiner and Dr. Erica R. Davila, Assistant Professor of Education, in Guatemala Jan. 8-16 as part of a four-credit interdisciplinary course. As part of the experience, which Greiner introduced to Arcadia in 2007, students traveled to Zacapa and Antigua, Guatemala, to assist Hearts In Motion with medical, educational and language translation projects.

ID 381, Service Learning in Guatemala, offers students an introduction to Guatemalan culture through interdisciplinary study and travel with a focus on the sociopolitical relationship between Guatemala and the United States.

“Because the course is interdisciplinary, I learned a lot about other professions,” says Sociology major Jacquelyn Crutchley ’13. “I got to live a day as a Guatemalan teacher and translator, and I observed a physician for a few days. The experience has made me want to continue the work I started and help those in need for the rest of my life.”

The course includes several reading requirements and written assignments designed to educate participants about the nature of cultural difference, the process of acculturation and the relationship of their studies to the personal experience of travel. In addition, students were required to participate in three local community trips. These field trips have various objectives including the Spanish language, educational experiences, immigration/migration and healthcare/social services.

“I learned so much from the course and have come out of it a different person, says Elementary Education major Shannon Goerke ’13. “When I first visited Arcadia I attended an education panel and more than half of the students had attended the Guatemala service trip. I knew that expanding my global perspective would push me to become a better teacher but seeing their enthusiasm about the course really inspired me to do it myself.”

Now that the class has returned to the Glenside campus, students prepare for their final group presentations in February.

“I am excited about the follow-up work we will be doing with the teachers of Zacapa and seeing the progress of a new school that Hearts in Motion is building and plans to have up-and-running next month,” says Davila, who will be returning to Guatemala with ID481, a new one-credit graduate course, in July. “The most important aspect of this course is experiencing the connections that our Arcadia students make with the people of Guatemala, especially the children.”

Course participants include: Jennifer Arnold, Marilyn Beatty, Michelle Cramer, Jacquelyn Crutchley, Olivia Foya, Brianne Gallagher, Shannon Goerke, Allison Graber, Shiomara Larriu, Janelly Rodriguez, Allison Russell, Shobitha Shaji, Alicia Sharp, Noriette Suarez, Amanda Surkin and Katelyn Sweeney.