We know that (international) service-learning experiences are powerful and can be pivotal in a student’s career, but international experiences are also expensive, and these costs can be prohibitive to many students who would really benefit from the experience. I had a powerful study abroad experience in my second year…ten years ago next month! That service trip to rural Argentina shaped my life in many different ways. It led be to graduate studies, and to continue my research in Argentina several years later. It also led me to a career in service-learning, and it motivated me to improve my Spanish. I believe that for many of our students, experiences such as this one are just as powerful. Where will these students be in 10 years?
This year, our students are very fortunate to receive partial scholarships through the Shell Experiential Energy Learning (SEEL) Program through the U of C’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. This program helps fund hands-on learning experiences for students, including field study experiences that relate to energy, environment and economy. Our students are learning about the rural economy and way of life in Chira Island – a community that is working hard to preserve the natural environment and that is looking to small-scale eco-tourism operations to create jobs and preserve the environment, and the local way of life.