Malawi service learning class impacts students, organization
By Annie Lambert
|On June 3, eight University
of South Carolina students and two professors departed Columbia
for Malawi, Africa. Two weeks later, a family returned. Their
adventure included hiking, kayaking, a stay in a safari camp,
volunteer work and, most of all, the experience of a lifetime.
This service learning class put students on the frontlines
of nonprofit work in Africa. With Ministry of Hope, a non-governmental
organization, students worked at a crisis nursery for orphans
and set up a mobile medical clinic, documenting every step
of the way.
With only five minutes of internet access each day, the students
created posts for the organization's Facebook
page and produced stories and photographs for Ministry
of Hope's newsletter and website.
The students' multimedia
stories focus on a broken water pump that caused villagers
to walk miles for clean water; a five-year old boy with stage
three malaria, which is often fatal; a recent Ithaca College
graduate spending her summer volunteering in Malawi; and an
orphan in a crisis nursery who is too old to receive care much
"Some of the videos produced by the students have already
appeared on the nonprofit's website and Facebook page, and
people are responding to that. They did a story about a pump
on a well being broken at one of the villages, and people are
already asking how they can donate to get it fixed," said
Van Kornegay, one of the two professors who led the class to
Video by USC students Daniel
Shelly and Jessica Gorman
Between volunteering, educational work and once-in-a-lifetime
adventures, these students experienced and learned a lot
in the short time they were abroad. But the impact was not
strictly educational. Before their departure, the students
were posed a question by the Dobson Fund, who provided a
grant to the program.
"They asked, what will the spiritual impact of the trip
be to you?" said Kornegay. "We had a contemplative
morning where we went off and wrote down what it meant to us.
There were some deep, heartfelt expressions that came out.
To me, that is more important than what they learned journalistically.
It's more personal. The trip touched everyone in a significant
"You hear about third world countries in the news and
on television, but being there and experiencing it for yourself
is an amazing thing," said Lauren Laubach, a senior broadcast
journalism student. "It gives you an entirely different
perspective on life."