William Woods University is planning a 15-week spring semester class focusing on the society of Kenya and culminating with a week in the African country for the 12 students chosen to participate.
Called “Woods Around the World,” the class will be a cultural study that includes a service-learning trip over spring break and action planning for service-learning projects in the local community when the students return.
Students selected to participate are Dan Binning of St. Charles, Mo.; Cassie Davis of Old Monroe, Mo.; Catharine Douglas of Kansas City, Mo.; Erica Dyer of Odessa, Mo.; Jessica Gabrian of O’Fallon, Mo.; Nicki Knight of Nixa, Mo.; Whitney Miller of Boise, Idaho; Amanda Payne of Topeka, Kan.; Nichole Peatross of Duchesne, Utah; Meghan Scuderi of Cumberland Gap, Tenn.; Brittany Welton of Willow Springs, Mo., and Courtney Yantes of Plain City, Ohio.
The class will be multi-cultural, interdisciplinary, collaborative and service-based in its curricular approach. Issues such as religion, media, economics, health, human rights and the arts will be reviewed before students and faculty see the society first-hand.
William Woods University received a $10,000 grant for the project from the Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). WWU also received $5,000 from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation.
William Woods was one of six schools chosen to receive special funding from the College/University Grant fund, a program administered by HELM. The College/University Grant funds special projects at undergraduate institutions related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) that will benefit the relationship between the institution and the church as a whole.
As part of “Woods Around the World,” students and faculty will give presentations for local church and civic organizations, describing the impact of the class and trip.
HELM also assisted with the start-up costs to create WWU’s Office of Faith and Service in 2004 with a grant of $15,000. The Rev. Travis Tamerius, coordinator of the Office of Faith and Service, will serve as the lead instructor for the course.
“In a global society, students need exposure to other cultures.” Tamerius said. “This project is a great way for them to acquire that experience first hand. Not only will they learn a lot about Kenya, they will also learn a lot about themselves in the process.”
“Woods around the World” will give WWU students experience in providing service to a needy population while learning about another culture. Students will study the culture from various disciplinary perspectives: historical, geographical, religious, political, economic, artistic, humanitarian and more.
Tamerius said “Woods around the World” will provide occasions for intensive service and learning opportunities, along with life-changing experiences.
“Churches and relief organizations in Africa are doing their part to bring relief to those facing profound hardship brought on by government corruption, economic collapse, severe food shortages, social dislocation and the widespread HIV epidemic,” Tamerius said.
“Our team of students will have the opportunity to assist local agencies in their various projects focused on helping the vulnerable: whether it is serving in soup kitchens, working on a project shelter, serving in an orphanage, at a health clinic, or simply listening to the stories of the broken and oppressed and retelling those stories to the wider world.”