Service Learning and Community Development in Malawi
The 2018 Malawi Service Learning and Community Development program is led by Professor Lisa Blitz and Associate Professor Youjung Lee. This program provides an opportunity for students of diverse backgrounds and interests to learn about the dynamics of sustainable development with a focus on Malawi in the Southern Region of Africa. In addition to class time in Binghamton, the course involves three weeks in Malawi working closely with a local non-governmental organization, the Malawi Children’s Mission (MCM), and the three rural communities it serves: M’bwana, Jamali, and Mwazama. Originally established as a feeding center for orphaned children, MCM has expanded to provide preschool and primary education. Approximately 60 children go to school at MCM, receiving a quality of education that cannot be matched by overcrowded local government schools, and over 150 children rely on MCM for their most substantial meal of the day. The children served by MCM are largely those who have been orphaned by AIDS or other circumstances and have endured profound trauma and loss. Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, and the highest concentration of its poorest citizens live in the rural areas. Malaria, malnutrition, and HIV infection are endemic, and concerns about substance abuse among youth are prevalent. While the needs are profound, the strengths of the communities are impressive. To support these strengths, the project uses an asset-based community development (ABCD) approach. Readings, discussions, and individual research will cover concepts and issues of social and economic justice and the roles of local and international governments in development. We will give particular attention to the region’s cultural and political history, its richness of natural resources, and its post-colonial economic, political, and social growth and struggles. We will discuss the current and critical debates around the services provided by local NGOs and international aid organizations and the functions that they serve in and for communities. We will also examine the relationships, parallels, and differences between American racial, social, and economic justice struggles and those of sub-Saharan Africa.
The 6 credit academic component of the program will be tied to summer term registration and on-site activities; however your coursework will begin towards the end of the spring semester to allow for sufficient preparation before the trip. The class will meet in person for four (3) hour classes prior to departure, and participants will be notified of the course dates once they are accepted into the program. Students will be required to complete some readings and assignments prior to departing for Malawi. Professor Lisa Blitz and Associate Professor Youjung Lee will also join you in Malawi for the on-site portion of the program.
Please note that this program will not be available for Summer 2020.
A round trip group flight will be arranged for the program participants. The Office of International Education will make the flight reservation for you, however each student will be responsible for paying the full balance of their airfare directly to our travel agency. No deviations from the group flight itinerary will be permitted.
On-Site in Malawi
The dates for travel to Malawi for summer 2018 are tentatively set for departure on June 1st and return on June 21st. The group flight departs from and returns to an NYC airport. Students need to arrange their own transportation to/from the airport.
The time in Malawi will include work in micro-finance projects, youth programming, and cultural immersion activities. See the "Student Life" section below for more details.
Students will be required to participate in online debriefing and reflection exercises and prepare a final paper linking the readings and course concepts to the experience in Malawi.
The 6 credit Binghamton University program provides an opportunity for students of diverse backgrounds and interests to learn about asset based community development while participating in service-learning.
The objectives of the course are to:
1. Investigate what local development looks like in practice by identifying key players which include local government, local community-based organizations, and NGOs;
2. Scrutinize and think critically about the roles of local government and civil society organizations in sub-Saharan African development generally and in the Southern African region in particular;
3. Explore the social, political, historical, cultural and ethical dimensions of international engagement;
4. Engage in personal and critical reflection on our practices as global citizens;
5. Develop skills and competencies to enable successful international travel and positive engagement in service learning that is mutually beneficial and which
promotes greater cross-cultural understanding and learning.
The course situates local asset-based community development (ABCD) practice within the intersections of social justice, economic viability, and cultural identity. The course is designed to help students develop knowledge and skills that enable them to reflect on local development, the role of the United States and Europe in African affairs and development, the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting equity and development, and students’ own roles in international service.
To learn more about how students will achieve these objectives during the onsite portion of the program, see the information under "Student Life" below.
The Binghamton course will be crosslisted across the following departments, for students to choose the academic credit designation that fits best for them: Social Work - SW 580 (graduate students only), Public Administration-PAFF581M (graduate students only), Human Development -HDEV 480, Africana Studies-AFST 480D, and Nursing-NURS 505 or NURS 349.
While in Malawi, students and faculty will stay at Annie’s Lodge, Nyambadwe, just outside of the city of Blantyre, and approximately 30 minutes’ drive to the Malawi Children’s Mission (MCM). Annie’s Lodge provides safe, comfortable, and affordable lodging, has an onsite restaurant with full breakfast included in the price, and provides internet access for a nominal fee.
The three weeks in Malawi will include participation in:
(1) Micro-financed entrepreneurship. Students will work with MCM staff, community members, and village chiefs to support their development of micro-financed entrepreneurial endeavors that benefit their communities. This will include (a) providing information on micro-financing and what has worked in similar sub-Saharan communities; (b) teach bookkeeping skills, business management, and business development plans to the entrepreneurs; and (c) help the entrepreneurs prepare business plans and annual reports to MCM board of directors.
(2) Afterschool programming for youth. Students will develop and conduct after-school programs with children and youth who attend MCM, including (a) helping older youth explore vocational and career possibilities; (b) supporting education and conversational English skills; and (c) engaging in social and recreational activities.
(3) Cultural immersion activities. This can include quiet time reading a book written by an African author, going to a venue to listen to music, going out to dinner at a local restaurant, shopping at stores frequented by locals, etc.
Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible in the spring semester. This program does accept both Binghamton and SUNY students, however there is a requirement to attend the 4 pre-program class sessions at Binghamton University. If you are not a Binghamton student, please plan ahead accordingly to be able to attend these.
Please click below to view the Summer 2018 program Estimate of Costs Sheet for Undergraduate and Graduate Students:
Malawi Graduate Student Cost Sheet Summer 2018.pdf
Malawi Undergraduate Student Cost Sheet Summer 2018.pdf
Financial Aid: Since this summer program is 6 credits, students who are eligible for financial aid may apply it. The amount of financial aid that you may be eligible to receive is of an individual nature. All students should print out this Estimate of Costs Sheet, bring it to the Financial Aid office, and consult with a counselor there about what the implications of this cost would be for them individually. Federal and New York State financial aid is generally applicable to study abroad programs. The Binghamton Financial Aid Services Office is able to consider only the application of students matriculated at Binghamton for degree study.
Withdrawal Policy: When a student commits to an education abroad program in their Terra Dotta online program application, the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives (IEGI) mirrors the Binghamton University Student Accounts refund policy for tuition, tuition differentials, and all program fees.
Scholarships: Students applying for this program are highly encouraged to apply for the Myers Family Scholarship if eligible. This provides an award of $1,500. For more information about this scholarship, click here.
For more information about scholarships and financial aid in general, click here.
In addition to a personal statement, a recommendation, and completing some information, applicants will be required to participate in an interview with the faculty directors and study abroad advisers who are seeking mature and prepared students for this program.
For questions about the academic course, please contact Professor Lisa Blitz, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about the program in general, please contact Linda Torricelli at email@example.com