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Community Service Abroad

Study Abroad student with foreign childStudents at Mary Baldwin College can earn academic credit by volunteering overseas, either during May Term or for a summer, semester, or year, under the supervision of an MBC faculty member. Community service (particularly in a community unlike one’s own) is an excellent way to gain international experience, improve language skills, and develop cross-cultural competence. It helps students become more engaged global citizens and see how their actions can make a real difference in the world. Service learning links the student’s community service to an academic discipline and requires thoughtful and structured reflection of the experience.

Mary Baldwin students can organize weeks, summers, semesters, or years of service through outside providers such as Cross Cultural Solutions, the School for International Training, or VIDA Volunteers. MBC students have volunteered in India, Oman, El Salvador, Costa Rice, and other countries. To organize a service abroad experience, visit the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement, or email to set up an appointment with a study abroad advisor.




picture for haitiDestination: Cherident (a mountain village in south central Haiti)
Course:  CE 281 Civic Engagement & Social Entrepreneurism (3 hours) + CE 102 The Reflective Self in Community (1 hour)
Cost: $1300 (includes all travel, lodging, meals, and most admission fees)
Tentative travel dates: Friday, February 28, until Friday, March 7
Instructor: Dr. Bruce Dorries
Contact Information:, 540-887-7112, Spencer Center for Civic Engagement

The director of Civic Engagement, Steve Grande, will also provide assistance with the courses.  MBC instructors and staff making the trip to lend support and teaching include: Kim Robinson, Doris Dodson, Kai Kennedy, Rhea Vance Cheng. A previous student in Civic Engagement and Social Entrepreneurism, Bethany Zaimen, will serve as a teaching assistant for the courses.

By taking this course students will think differently about how they can be more confident, compassionate changemakers. Social entrepreneurship is an emerging field that combines business practices, public policy and economic development, as well as the motivation to create a better world. Social entrepreneurs promote public good through innovation, creating sustainable approaches to major problems: poverty, environmental degradation, injustice, etc. The practices we will be studying are helping many thousands of people around the planet to address both local and global challenges. Their work has a positive impact on millions. The goal of the course is for students to understand tools and theories of social entrepreneurism and civic engagement, as well as to develop ideas to address a problem on the grassroots level.

We will examine the history, development and theories of social entrepreneurism. As a means of applying what we learn the course will include study of the town of Cherident and the nation of Haiti. We will be reading from two text books, watching many documentaries about social entrepreneurism and Haiti, and learning from guests familiar with that country, or who have expertise in changemaking, innovation and civic leadership.

We will address questions such as: What does Civic Engagement? Who benefits from civic engagement and how – both the citizens of Cherident/hosts, as well as us, the visitors? What can civic engagement and social entrepreneurism accomplish in addressing the problems and challenges in Haiti – and elsewhere? How is civic life and democracy different in Haiti from the U.S.? How can blueprints from other social enterprises around the world, including the U.S., be adapted to Haiti? What can we learn from Haitians to address problems in the U.S. and elsewhere? Students will begin to address these questions through readings, writing, presentations, film, as well as discussion with expatriates and others who have spent considerable time in Haiti or in social entrepreneurism.

Students traveling to Haiti over spring break will do work for five days, providing support for three nonprofits operating in Cherident: Haiti Education Foundation, Health Care Partners, Living Waters. All three of these organizations have partnered with Tinkling Springs Presbyterian Church for many years.

These students will engage in daily journaling and discussions to connect their experiences with principles and concepts we will cover in CE 281 and CE 102. Much of the civic engagement with Cherident will involve fundraising, purchase and packaging of medical and hygiene supplies, assisting with patients awaiting treatment (taking blood pressure, checking pulse, providing support to children and families waiting in long lines), stocking medical supplies and assisting with inventory, tutoring children in basic English, assisting with art education of children, and community needs assessment for future projects and partnership.