Office of Education Abroad Update, December 17, 2014: Issue 58

December 17,2014: Issue 58

Study Abroad Gives Back

Spanish students creating handmade books at Ediciones Vigía in Mantanzas, Cuba

Ask any one of the 34% of CWRU undergraduate students who studied abroad last year and they will likely tell you about the positive, even transformational, experiences they brought back home. Few realize, however, that CWRU students are also leaving behind a positive impact in several countries around the world, from India, Uganda and Cameroon to Cuba, Guatemala and the Philippines. Almost a dozen CWRU study abroad programs and student organizations are working to improve lives in the local communities they visit, even as they reap the personal and academic benefits of international education.

Bioethics students performing community service in Costa Rica

Several faculty-directed CWRU study abroad courses incorporate community service activities into their busy itineraries. In Costa Rica, a Bioethics class led by Nicole Deming and Kurt Rhoads has partnered for over five years with local organizations such as the University of Costa Rica and BodhiSurf on a variety of projects, ranging from cleaning up local beaches, planting trees and making elementary schools safer for Costa Rican children. To the north in Guatemala, the Mandel School’s Victor Groza and Zoe Breen Wood have asked their students to carry an extra suitcase full of supplies to benefit local children, entirely solicited by student donations and fundraising efforts. Moreover, the students work with Mayan children as part of a service learning project that aims to help them in public school. Across the Gulf of Mexico in Cuba, CWRU Spanish students led by Damaris Punales-Alpizar volunteer at Ediciones Vigía, a handmade bookmaker that uses repurposed materials, contributing to a unique facet of Cuban culture. Beyond Latin America, another Mandel School course in India is partnering with the Asian Indian Physicians Organization of Northern Ohio to carry over 170 pounds of medical supplies to aid underserved and needy communities in south India.

CWRU students work with children in Guatemala on a Mandel School study abroad course

CWRU engineering students have developed an exceptional connection to the continent of Africa, making a lasting impact in several countries, including Botswana, Uganda, Cameroon, and this coming winter, Lesotho. Professors Dan Lacks and Mohan Sankaran have brought aspiring engineers to Botswana every summer for the last four years. In addition to studying core concepts at the University of Botswana, CWRU students have applied their skills towards bringing sustainable energy to impoverished and isolated communities on the edge of Kalahari Desert. In Uganda, a group of students visited hospitals and clinics last spring break, implementing a bar-code scanner to improve record keeping. This January, another five students will travel to Lesotho to donate solar electrical systems that were designed and built by a SAGES seminar this fall. As if these life changing efforts were not enough, CWRU engineering students even bring tennis equipment to Botswana to donate to local children. Outside of regular coursework, the CWRU chapter of Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization run by student volunteers, has worked in the community of Batoula, Camroon since 2008, installing pumps, bio-sand filters and a solar-powered water well and distribution system.

In addition, the CWRU community sponsors numerous voluntary international service activities. Along with their work in Cameroon, Engineers Without Borders also has active projects in the Dominican Republic and the Philippines that aim to provide safe drinking water to local communities. Another nonprofit student-run organization, Global Medical Brigades, is planning its first trip to Honduras this May. They will deliver medications and supplies, and work with doctors to offer mobile clinics that will reach 800 patients a day in underserved villages. Other CWRU medical students have also volunteered for the last two years with
Medical Missions of Mercy in the Philippines, where they provide anesthesia for up to 200 surgeries in limited functioning hospitals. Last January, three students participated, facilitating crucial medical interventions for people who could not otherwise afford the care. CWRU nursing students are also active internationally, educating older adults about air pollution in China and working in a rural clinic in Nicaragua, to cite just a couple examples.

CWRU medical students on a medical mission in the Philippines last January

CWRU’s involvement in Nicaragua extends even deeper. For the last five years the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning (CCEL) has directly coordinated a non-credit “alternative spring break” in Nicaragua for CWRU students interested in international service. Partnering with the nonprofit organization Waves of Hope, CCEL’s program has made a lasting impact in a rural coastal community, contributing towards housing and infrastructure projects, and even assisting in the construction of a new high school. In addition, CWRU students also facilitate an afterschool program for local children to play and learn English. Set to return for a sixth season this spring, this popular study abroad option epitomizes our community’s desire to give back while becoming ever more engaged global citizens.

Learn more about how you can give back through study abroad, visit or email

Announcements and Events from The Office of Education Abroad

Join CWRU Faculty on a Summer Study Abroad Course: Deadline is February 1!
CWRU faculty are directing several study abroad courses this summer. From politics to engineering to art history, there is a program perfect for every student. Visit our website to search the summer options.

Deadline Extended for Faculty Directed Spring Semester Study Abroad Courses over Spring Break or May Abroad
The deadline for the CWRU courses offered in the spring semester that go abroad over spring break or May has been extended for most programs to January 16! Apply here to register!

Winter Break and Advising Hours for the Office of Education Abroad
Study abroad advising appointments will end on December 18 and not begin again until January 7 with new services for students. See below for those details. During this time, our staff will still be available to assist students who walk in with questions on days the university is open. The Office of Education Abroad and Case Western Reserve University will be closed December 24-26 and December 31-January 2. We will be open all other days of the Winter Break Holiday.

In addition to our traditional advising sessions, beginning January 7th the Office of Education Abroad will add two new services to support students:
  1.  Walk-In Hours: We will have walk-in hours from 12:30 – 2pm every Friday. Both Study Abroad Advisors will be available to answer quick questions during this time. Walk-in hours are ideal for students who have already met with a study abroad advisor or need to schedule an advising appointment.
  2. Group Advising: Group advising is for those students not sure of where or when they want to study abroad, but who want details and ideas. It’s perfect for undeclared majors or someone just seeking more information. We will offer group advising:
    1.    Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 – 6pm with Autumn
    2.    Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:30 – 1:30 pm with Matt
As always, you can email to make an appointment with an advisor and see what type of advising is best for you. The advisors will be happy to help you start your journey abroad!

Other Announcements and Events

Happy Holidays from the Office of Education Abroad!
The next Update will be January 15, 2015!
See you in the New Year!


In this issue:
  • Study Abroad Gives Back
  • Announcements and Events from OEA
  • Other Announcements and Events
  • Application Deadlines
  • Upcoming Events
December 17, 2014

This update is published by The Office of Education Abroad (OEA) at Case Western Reserve University.  If you are not already subscribed to this update you can sign up here to receive this and other OEA communications.

Application Deadlines

**Deadline Extension**
Spring 2015 Semester Faculty Directed Programs: January 16

Summer 2015 Faculty Directed Programs: February 1

Fall 2015: March 1

Academic Year 2015/16:
March 1

Summer 2015 Independent Programs: April 1
Meet with a Study Abroad advisor

To schedule a phone, Skype, or in-person appointment with a study abroad advisor, contact:
Upcoming Events

Holiday Closing:
Closed Dec. 24-26 and Dec. 31-Jan. 2

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For more information about Study Abroad and all options please visit us at

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