An initial plan to globalize citizenship will be emerging this summer in the form of a four-week study abroad program in Robins Bay, Jamaica.
Program coordinator and associate professor of recreation and tourism management, Vinod Sasidharan, was also responsible for the Dominican Republic service-learning program last summer. The program’s goal was to help achieve the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, thus allowing the community sustainable development experience with help from students.
“It gave me the opportunity to do hands-on work that specifically related to my field of study,” San Diego State graduate student Tucker Ballister said. “It gives students the chance to practice real-world skills while fostering new relationships, because, most likely you will be working with people you have never met.”
Ballister, a former attendee of the Dominican Republic service-learning program, said he considers the adjustment to third-world accommodations the biggest obstacle when working on rural community sustainability projects and, expecting to “live in American (accomodations)” is not an option.
By strengthening the educational system and helping the community develop jobs that are not necessarily fishing, which is the main drive for a village’s business, sustainable agriculture would be the main goal of the project.
“The community is a complete blank,” Sasidharan said. “Which is great for us because we have a wider field to work in.”
With six hours of hands-on work every day for four weeks, students will engage in experiential activities in the remote area, two hours from Kingston. They will focus on multidisciplinary approaches to sustainability with five suggested plans that can be put into action to improve the community in the long run.
Yet the four weeks will “not be enough” to finish the project, Sasidharan said.
“I like to give students a break from working to experience the culture,” Sasidharan said. “Relaxing is an important factor for creativity and we need creativity to come up with valuable plans that will benefit the Jamaican community.”
Once the five plans are proposed to the community, the Jamaican government, which has already agreed to fund the plan once it’s been established, will aid the community by providing it with the money needed to put the students’ work into motion.
“My area of interest is to help people live sustainable lives,” Sasidharan said. “It is a selfish motif of mine.”
The program’s cost will be $3,886, which includes the six units of tuition, lodging, all meals, VIP-airport transfer and field trips to surrounding areas.