Engaging students beyond the classroom has become paramount to the teaching and learning experience. To promote this idea many educational institutions encourage students to become active participants in civic engagement projects and study abroad programs. Often these experiences promote “experiential learning” which is learning by a hands-on approach and reflecting on that encounter. The intention of experiential learning is to help participants bridge the connection between theory and practical application thereby leading to a more meaningful and organic understanding. Teaching and learning opportunities can be created outside the four walls of a brick and mortar classroom structure.
Last year I was fortunate to assist students in cultivating new knowledge and fostering international friendship and business relationships through active participation in civic and academic projects. Students in my Summer Success Academy volunteered for Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture to develop a broader comprehension of food desert communities and how urban agriculture is critical to food self-sufficiency, builds economic capacity, and maintaining stewardship over the local environment.
COMPETING IN THE BIG APPLE
In July a group of students headed to New York to participant in the KPMG Case Competition. The students of Association of Latino Professional in Finance and Accounting ALPFA) competed against 22 other chapters representing colleges and universities from all over the United States. Teams were given 3 hours to analyze Ford Motor Company’s business records and financial history to make recommendations for new innovative strategies, products and services. The findings and recommendations were then presented to a panel of KMPG executives who asked probing questions and provided instant feedback. The competition provided students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge developed in class to a real-life situation with true results. The lessons learned were invaluable because the students were not only able to receive feedback from top executives of a major accounting firm but also develop the skills of critical-thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration.
STUDY ABROAD -KENYA
Studying abroad or international travel can be a great learning opportunity for students if properly designed and effectively managed. This is a way for students to view life through a different lens and become global citizens. Every year the members of Beta Alpha Psi honorary accounting organization raises money to send Kenyan girls to college. The group partnered with Imbako Public Health to form the Global Impart Project. The mission of the project is to address the education disparity that women face in Kenya and provide them with access to a quality education. Last year a group of students asked that I serve as the acting Adviser on their 10 day visit to Kenya, Africa. The purpose of the trip was to gather first-hand knowledge about the girls and direct program implications. The 20 girls along with family members traveled from their various villages to spend 10 days with us sharing their lives, culture, and experiences. The U.S. students were able to see the value of not just having a quality education but also the importance of having access to that education which sometime is taken for granted. Outside of the programming side of the project the U.S students received a better understanding of the everyday challenges the girls encountered such as sexism, homelessness, lack of transportation, inadequate school supplies and poor nutrition to list a few. The U.S students left Kenya with a broader sense of community, international relationship, civic engagement, global education, volunteerism, service, and friendship.