Since 2008, undergraduate students from Wake Forest University have engaged in summer service-learning programs in Nicaragua. These programs provide experiential education that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, encourage lifelong civic engagement, and strengthen communities for the common good.
During the summer of 2008, two academic courses were taught: Social Enterprise Leadership in a Developing Country and The Writer and Society in Central America. Students served in several non-profit organizations, including a physical therapy and rehabilitation center for children with disabilities, a nonprofit that provides education and vocational training to marginalized communities, a school, and an orphanage.
During the summers of 2009 and 2010, the two courses taught were: Health Issues on a Global Scale and Comparative Communication. Students engaged in service-learning projects that included volunteering in acute care clinics, physical therapy/rehabilitation facilities, and public and private elementary schools, as well as assisting with food-aid programs and conducting university-based research.
Beginning in Summer 2010, Wake Forest University began offering a program for Nicaragua high school students to better prepare them for leadership roles in business and society. The program offers a week-long curriculum focused on knowledge, skills, and applications designed to increase students’ interest, confidence, and ability in pursuing leadership roles in organizations and communities.
Specific future goals are to: expand and develop the program to be delivered on an annual basis each summer; increase the number of high schools (to 3-4) from which students are recruited; increase the number of students (to 24-30) who enroll in the program; expand the workshop from approximately 20 contact hours to over 30; and add an additional faculty member for curriculum development and delivery. Anticipated results among students include; greater pursuit of leadership roles, stronger commitment to higher education, and increased involvement in community affairs.