Service-Learning Students to Travel to Liberia
(NSU NEWSROOM—Feb. 7, 2014) - A pair of Norfolk State University students will travel to Liberia next month as part of a faculty-led, service-learning education trip where they will interact with their African peers, participate in community projects and help mentor elementary school students.
Norfolk State students Ja’lyn Hall, 19, of Norfolk, and Ashley King, 21, of Portsmouth, will travel to West Africa during the University’s spring break for students March 10 to 17. As a part of their journey, the students will travel to the University of Liberia, learn about technical agriculture and set up a pen pal project between elementary school students in Norfolk and Liberia.
Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, who directs Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at NSU, and Dr. Geoffroy DeLaforcade, co-director of the NSU Office of International Studies and Service-Learning, said the students’ travel to the country is about the University’s mission to help students become global citizens.
Hall and King were selected from a pool of student candidates who interviewed to go on the trip. Ross-Hammond said the NSU Office of Student Affairs and the NSU International Programs Foundation jointly funded the trip.
“We’re teaching students about critical thinking and how they can interact on a global level,” Ross-Hammond said. “The service-learning aspect allows them to understand while they do the work, and then talk about the results of the service on their academic learning and critical thinking skills.”
Ross-Hammond said to prepare for the trip, the students are learning about Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who became the country’s first independent president in 1847. Jenkins, who was born free in 1809 in Norfolk, became president of the country after he moved there to open a store. He later became involved in politics and was elected to two terms as president. He also established Liberia College, known today as University of Liberia.
The students headed to Liberia said they are both excited about the opportunity to travel on behalf of NSU. During their journey, they will also meet with U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, the president from the University of Liberia, and engage in discussions with students at the university.
Hall, who is a sophomore kinesiotherapy major, said she has read about the country’s customs and traditions, but now she is ready to experience the people firsthand.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Africa,” Hall said. “My hope is to establish new friendships and to maybe go back there one day and visit on my own. I want to take it all in and enjoy the adventure.”
King, a junior sociology major, said this will be her first international trip and she is excited that it will be in Africa. King said she is most interested in finding the similarities between American and Liberian cultures.
“This trip will allow me to see the world from a new perspective,” King said. “I’m ready to meet the people and learn.”