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Malawi group photo

 

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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 longer.

"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 Africa.

 

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 way."

"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."

 
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