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Students Research and Give Back Abroad

SDSU faculty, staff and students will travel abroad this spring break to conduct research and perform service projects.
SDSU students help at a Guatemalan elementary school over their spring break. (Photo courtesy Patricia Lozada-Santone)
SDSU students help at a Guatemalan elementary school over their spring break. (Photo courtesy Patricia Lozada-Santone)

Service Project in Guatemala

An SDSU undergraduate student and Guatemalan elementary school students dressed in native dance attire.
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Native Dance Attire
An SDSU undergraduate student and Guatemalan elementary school students dressed in native dance attire.
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With more than 350 education abroad programs in more than 50 countries, international study is a central part of the educational experience at San Diego State University.

Through the university’s Office of International Programs and the College of Extended Studies, SDSU continues to expand its international offerings to include educational, research and service-learning programs.

This spring break, April 1-5, many SDSU students will travel abroad to prepare for positions of leadership in a global society. Some of the highlighted destinations include South Africa, Mexicali and Guatamala.

Research in South Africa

SDSU audiology professor Peter Torre and four speech, language, and hearing sciences students are ready to spend spring break in Cape Town, South Africa. The team will partner with South Africa’s Tygerberg Hospital to begin international research and lead a pilot study on the effects of HIV and hearing loss in children. Their research is partly funded by the Office of International Programs and the National Institutes of Health.

Little research has been compiled on HIV and hearing loss in children, and a study of this kind has not yet been conducted in South Africa. For eight days, Torre, who is the director of the Recreational Noise Exposure and Hearing Lab at SDSU, and his student team, will work with Tygerberg Hospital’s audiology clinic to analyze more than 60 children’s language, hearing and speech to determine if HIV is associated with hearing loss.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” said Lucia Kearney, a speech, language, and hearing sciences major who is graduating in May. “We are hopeful our research will have a positive effect on children with HIV.”

For two and a half weeks, the team will be living in an apartment in Cape Town and will have weekends free to explore South Africa. Once they have returned to domestic waters, Torre and his team are eager to analyze the data collected and hope to present and publish their research findings.

Learning and lesson plans in Mexicali

Vicki Fielden, a liberal studies adviser in the Office of Advising and Evaluations will be leading 19 students to Mexicali for a service-learning trip that explores Mexico’s educational system and issues related to migration.

As part of a program, organized by the Division of Undergraduate Studies and a partner organization, Via International, students will visit the deported migrant shelter, Casa del Migrante, where they will interview deportees on their experiences.

A trip to local schools will give students the opportunity to discuss Mexico’s education systems with teachers. Students will also partner with local community members to take part in a service project, laying concrete or creating a green area at a local school.

Throughout the trip, students will write journal entries and take pictures, documenting their exploration of transborder issues. These entries will become the foundation of a mini-lesson plan – a final project that sums up the experiences and knowledge gained from the trip.

Service project in Guatemala

For the second year, Patricia Lozada-Santone, assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Education, will lead more than 30 students from education, nursing, biology and other sciences on a service-learning trip to Guatemala over spring break.

Students will help a Guatemalan elementary school by laying concrete or grass, painting and creating lesson plans for the teachers there. Leading up to the trip, students collected school supplies to donate to the school.

“This opportunity is life-changing and it’s something we really want our students to experience,” program instructor Lozada-Santone said.

More information

More than 30 academic programs or majors at SDSU include study abroad as a graduation requirement.

While studying abroad, students can pay their tuition and fees, receive credit, and use their financial aid. There is also a wide array of scholarships available to help cover costs.

For more information on SDSU’s education abroad programs visit the International Student Center web site or the College of Extended Studies web site.

All photos for this story courtesy of Patricia Lozada-Santone.

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