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School of Social Welfare Students Take the Ultimate Field Trip: Summer Study Tours of Africa

For 11 summers, UAlbany School of Social Welfare (SSW) students, along with faculty, scholars and community practitioners, have traveled to African countries to see what social service delivery means in poorer nations and if government policies and programs are providing effective change and development. What they find is challenge, but with it a tremendous sense of community and hope.

The study tours, part of the students' SSW academic program, are organized by the US-Africa Partnership for Stronger Communities project. UAlbany Distinguished Professor Shirley Jones, a SSW faculty member for more than two decades, initiated the study tour program in 2000 and continues to sponsor fundraising activities that provide scholarship assistance to the student participants.

She and fellow SSW faculty member Robert Miller, who is also a visiting professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, led tours the last two years to Ethiopia and South Africa. The tour participants visited townships, villages, institutions of higher education, governmental institutions, social agencies, and historical areas to learn about cultural, racial, and religious diversity, and study international social and economic policies and programs that help to promote change and development.

During the August 2011 tour to South Africa, students visited a refugee settlement and met with development officials and organizations in rural communities such as the Women on Farms Organization. The students also took knitted and quilted blanket and school supplies to orphanages and schools. The 2011 Summer Study Tour participants will present articles on their international experiences for possible publication or presentations at conferences.

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