Four May Terms to focus on service abroad


by Josie Clarke, Special to The Simpsonian

Many Simpson College students take part in traveling May Term courses every year, but some of these courses are more than just another class.

Four May Term courses this year focus on service and will impact people in Ghana, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Colorado.

Though other May term courses can be wonderful opportunities for Simpson students, the experiences from service courses can change students’ lives while they, in turn, impact the lives of others.

The Ghanaian Culture course, taught by Carolyn Dallinger and Walter Lain, will travel to Ghana, Africa. The students go on tours around the country and work in schools.

Students going on the trip were asked to get donations of money and supplies to take with them to Ghana. The donations they collect will go to towns that don’t have electricity and people who don’t have roofs over their heads.

Rachel Freland, a junior at Simpson, is signed up for the trip. A single-credit class was required to go on the trip, in which she learned about education and poverty in Ghana through projects she had to do.

“They hardly have supplies. For example, paper isn’t even found on shelves there,” Freland said. She and other members of the class have asked for donations of any sort over Facebook for their trip. Freland has raised about $500, and people have donated school supplies and dolls for her to take.

While earning their credits and giving to the communities, the students will also be working with children in schools and orphanages. They will be hanging out and engaging with the kids, dancing, eating and cooking with them among other things.

Allison Wolf teaches the service course that will travel to Costa Rica. Students in this class will learn about ecotourism and take on service projects. Students will learn about the tourism that takes place in Costa Rica, which earns the country $1.7 billion each year. They will investigate the ethical nature of ecotourism, exploring its pros and cons as they travel around the country.

The exploration of ecotourism will include taking part in ecotourist activities like hiking through the cloud forest, learning about coffee and chocolate production and spending time at the beach. They will also do service work and stay with host families.

The course in the Dominican Republic will be taught by Marzia Corni-Benson and Megan Pilcher. Students in this class will get first-hand experience with underdevelopment, poverty, lack of education and lack of access to basic sanitation throughout the Dominican Republic. They will also have the opportunity to interact with locals in underprivileged parts of the country.

Though it seems to be a popular vacation spot, the Dominican Republic is actually a developing country, as the class description indicates.

The class will also focus on how few people in the country actually have control over the money, while the rest live in poverty. The students will learn about the history of the Dominican Republic to unveil the reasons behind the country’s poor economic, political and social status.

The service course staying in the U.S. is the Colorado trip, which will be led by Jan Everhart.

Students in this course will first spend a week on campus, learning basic concepts of community and working together for the greater good. They will then go to Colorado for the second week to participate in intensive service work that focuses on problems such as homelessness, hunger and poverty.

The class covers the ideas of social justice, social change, leadership and community service.

“We’ve run this course for 15 consecutive years, and students get to explore their own gifts in relation to what the world needs,” Everhart said.

At the end of the trip, the students participate in a retreat to reflect on both how their work has changed them as people and on the lives that they touched.

Everhart said, “Occasionally, students have radically altered their life’s direction as a result of experiences with Call of Service.”