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Malone University students and faculty/staff take part in Service Learning trips around the world in the spring/summer of 2013

May 24, 2013 | Release # 6630

64 Malone University faculty, staff, and students are either currently, or soon will be, traveling abroad to participate in service learning trips this summer. An additional 17 took part in service learning trips over the semester break earlier this spring. Summer destinations include Italy, India, Romania, Poland, Kenya, Denmark, and Costa Rica. Spring trips took students as far away as Ecuador – and as close to home as the Lighthouse Ministries in Canton. Malone University service learning participants partner with international hosts who have compassion, experience, and knowledge with the people of the countries the teams visit. The trips are created around the potential to learn, both about the culture and from the nationals who host them. The service projects incorporated into the trips are designed by nationals of the host country to address a real need.

Overview of 2013 trips:

Italy, co-leaders: Ann Lawson, instructor of communication arts, and Jacci Welling, Ph.D., professor of history.

This trip is focusing on the art and religion that typify Italian culture and includes visiting several museums and churches. The team has been based in Rome, and has been visiting Roman highlights of the Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum, Vatican and Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, Christian catacombs and Trevi fountain. Side trips to Siena in Tuscany and Cinque Terre on the coast are also on the agenda. The team's service project with Rome Baptist Church is spending two days cooking, serving and talking with refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to Lawson, "The students learn about the culture of Italy and, thereby, learn more about our own. They see the larger world and the way the Lord is working in other cultures and traditions. I hope they learn respect for our difference and our similarities. We visit St. Peter's, the Vatican and many other Roman Catholic churches to better understand our connectedness and roots of Christianity before the Protestant Reformation. There's so much more! I could talk at length about why I do these trips and why I love facilitating and watching the transformation and growth in students!" She continues, "When you travel or immerse yourself in a new culture, you understand more and fear differences less. That enables us to love people, as Christians should. Paul writes about understanding a culture in order be a credible witness, and this gives Malone students that opportunity. Those who travel become resilient, open, aware, and willing to think of situations in new ways."

Dr. Welling adds, "The most powerful experience has been preparing and then distributing lunch at a park for immigrants (mostly young men, far from home) from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Tunisia. Later, we gathered in a reading room sponsored by the same Baptist church that sponsors the weekly lunch program and met with some of the young men who wanted to practice their English. The students will have some wonderful stories to share."

India, co-leaders: Mike Hansen, men's hall resident director, and Stacy Utecht, women's resident hall director.

This trip will focus on engaging with the socially marginalized of India: people who are slum and village dwellers, people who live in leper colonies, and people who are disabled. The team's time will be spent in service to an indigenous mission organization called Word for the World and will be based in Chennai, Madurai, and Pondicherry. Sightseeing will include Indian Ocean, Hindu temples, historic Christian locations in southern India, and rickshaw rides. Hansen and Utecht say that they "are most looking forward to observing the culture, interacting with the people, and learning the intricacies of a country very different from our own! We anticipate being stretched out of our comfort zones, but that our hearts will also come alive as we get to sit with people in leper colonies, hold and play with children, and be inspired by diligent pastors and missionaries. Going to India is like stepping into a different world, but we are excited to be challenged in our thinking and to learn how we can be better global citizens."

Romania, co-leaders: Elizabeth Patterson, associate professor of social work; and Kathryn Gritter, resident hall director.

The team will spend three weeks in Medieval Transylvania, in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, known as Dracula's birthplace, Sighisoara, Romania! They will have the opportunity to experience a country transitioning from a harsh communist dictatorship to becoming members of the European Union. Through working alongside Veritas staff, participants will serve the needs of some of the most marginalized community members, serving and learning through supporting social service programs for children, families, and the elderly. Students will also have an opportunity to live and learn within the culture through staying with host families in the community. The team leaders say that they are looking forward to "giving the students the opportunity to experience the beauty of Romania, learn about the culture and its people, while living with host families and serving alongside Romanian staff as they reach out to some of the needs in the community, including work with disadvantaged children, families and elderly."

Poland, co-leaders: David Entwistle, Psy.D., professor of psychology; and Jack Harris, Ph.D., director of global and off-campus programs; professor of business administration.

Poland has become much more economically productive since leaving the communist block, but it is also a nation where alcoholism, materialism, and spiritual longing are commonplace. The team will be working with Don and Betty Orr, Canadian missionaries who have lived in Poland for the last decade, providing training and support to local pastors and congregations. The team will visit the historic Jewish quarter, the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the Old Town of Warsaw which was completely rebuilt after World War II. According to Dr. Harris, "We spent the last two days with our students spending time interacting with students at a university in Warsaw. Later in the trip we will be working with high school students and a youth group. This evening we will be in Biatystok meeting and exchanging ideas with student from Norway. Tomorrow will be putting furniture together and helping distribute clothing. There will be many more things to come. We will be meeting and working with numerous different groups from Poland, serving wherever we are needed. We will be learning about another culture, how people communicate, its leadership, food, clothing styles, and more."

Kenya, co-leaders: Jay Case, Ph.D., professor of history; and David Dixon, Ph.D., professor of communication arts.

This trip is designed to engage the Christian faith in Africa, and is grounded in an academic course on the history of Christianity among the cultures of East Africa. The trip has taken the team to the modern city of Nairobi, churches founded by a student of (Malone University founders) Walter and Emma Malone in the hills of western Kenya, and a mission station on the Great Rift Valley called Kijabe. Service projects include interacting with children in an orphanage and ministry among domestic refugees. Dr. Dixon explains, "This trip is primarily to learn about the history of Christianity in East Africa, so we're looking forward to meeting with people who have watched Christianity take root, and have wrestled with what it means to be Christian in African cultures."

Follow their blog here:


Denmark, co-leaders: Debra Lee, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences; and Kathleen Flaherty, Ph.D., professor of nursing.

This trip follows a recent visit by Danish nursing student Mike Flor as a result of relationships built through the University's cross-cultural experience, a requirement for all nursing majors. Jack Harris, Ph.D., director of global and off-campus programs, and Lora Wyss, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, collaborated on ways in which a component of nursing focuses on spiritual care in a secular environment – and introduced that concept to Danish academics through the cross-cultural experience. Trip leaders Dean Debra Lee and Professor Kathleen Flaherty are introducing current junior nursing students to Denmark culture - including nursing and health care - while exploring cross cultural possibilities for graduate nursing education. Follow their blog here:


Costa Rica, team leader: Leslie Hay, Ph.D., associate professor of biology

While some students will be fulfilling internships involving sea turtle monitoring on the beaches of Osa Peninsula, a remote beach in southern Costa Rica at Corcovado National Park, others will spend a week doing research projects. Research will focus on tropical ecology at two biological research stations, run by the renowned Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). Dr. Hay is an OTS alumna and has been doing research and mentoring undergraduates there for several summers. According to Dr. Hay, "I am looking forward (the most) to seeing the students' faces when they wake up early in the morning in the rainforest in southern Costa Rica and they hear male howler monkeys "booming" (very loud raucous calling) near their cabin, and they see and hear scarlet macaws calling in the trees nearby. It is a magical experience that you must 'walk-in' to fully know and comprehend the majesty of God in all his creation! My first experience of the tropical rainforest was 25 years ago in Ecuador, and I have never forgotten it – and now I have shared His majesty of the tropical rainforests with many students – I never tire of it, as God's glorious splendor abounds!"

Ecuador, team leader: Beth Clark Thomas, Ph.D., professor of elementary education.

Designed specifically with education majors in mind, this trip – conducted over spring break -- focused on schools and education systems as the team explored the rich culture of Ecuador and its people. The service project included working with children at the Nuevos Amigos school, supported by RiverTree Christian Church. Nuevos Amigos serves children living in extreme poverty, providing a Christian education, meals, school supplies, vitamins, and clothing for more than 125 children each day. According to Dr. Clark-Thomas, "The trip was transformative! It was especially meaningful to see how the Nuevos Amigos teachers, students, and community openly give God the glory for 'all' that they have, when we, who have so much, aren't always as intentional. The team taught children literacy lessons, taught English to the teachers, ate in the homes of the school community, and even took the children of Nuevos Amigos School on a field trip to the Equator!"

Lighthouse Ministries, Canton, team leader: Joey Frangos

You don't have to travel very far to encounter – and do something about – poverty. Conducted over spring break, the domestic travel team learned from, and worked with, our urban neighbors in Canton through Lighthouse Ministries . The Lighthouse is an urban youth outreach organization that offers programming to support the at-risk youth living in its Southeast Canton neighborhood. The students spent spring break with Lighthouse Ministries' after school program each day, at the elementary school, helping students with homework, playing with them in recreation, and helping with art class. The team learned about poverty and the forces/decisions that seem to perpetuate poverty here in the U.S. In addition, they worked with local homeowners in the urban area, helping with small work projects that need taken care of. The students were challenged in many ways, and given a new understanding of the city in which they live.

Malone University, a Christian university for the arts, sciences, and professions in the liberal arts tradition, affiliated with the Evangelical Friends Church, awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 100 academic programs. Malone has been recognized by the prestigious Templeton Foundation as a leader in character development, as one of Northeast Ohio’s Top Workplaces by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and is ranked among the top colleges and universities in the Midwest under the category Regional Universities according to U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges 2015 


Suzanne Thomas, APR
Director of University Relations
Malone University
2600 Cleveland Avenue N.W., Canton, OH, 44709
Phone: 330-471-8239
Cell: 330-324-2424

Categories: academics