School of Social Welfare’s 2014 US-Africa Summer Study Tour

Students on US-Africa Summer Study tourBeginning in the Summer of 2000, students and faculty have traveled to Africa on the US-Africa Partnership to Build Stronger Communities Summer Tour (initiated by Dr. Shirley Jones, Distinguished Service Professor). Dr. Robert L. Miller, Jr., Associate Professor, is carrying on the work of Dr. Jones and leading the tour. This summer, four MSW students – Chelsea Andolina, Rosanna Garcia and Matt Ecker from UAlbany and Ashley Dawson from Binghamton University – and Dr. Julia Hastings, Assistant Professor, traveled with Dr. Miller to South Africa, Tanzania and Zanzibar. The group met with South African Constitutional Justice Edwin Cameron and visited many social service agencies and several schools of social work. The trip is designed to examine social policies in the areas of HIV, gender rights and child welfare. The School of Social Welfare offers its students a wonderful service-learning opportunity through the Summer Study Tour, which includes a three-credit course, that exposes students to the policies that govern social service provision in Africa. The goal of this tour is to introduce students to the Continent of Africa and provide “hands-on” global and international learning experiences as well as community engagement opportunities. Students who have participated in the tour over the years have described the trip as life-changing and transformative: “My education was exemplary, but going to Africa gave me the unflappable belief that if I reached out a genuine hand to people in great need, that I could have an impact.” “I learned in South Africa that everyone has a voice. It is our job as social workers and helping professionals to empower communities and provide them with the tools to come together to advocate for social justice. It was not only the trip of a lifetime, it was the trip that will forever define my life.”