The World as a Campus: Trips Over Break Help USD Students Serve and Learn

Image 2016 Cuba Trip USD students in Cuba.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- A lot of University of South Dakota students will venture out on various spring break trips next week, including five with a service element through USD’s Alternative Week of Off-Campus Learning (AWOL) program: Baltimore; Sauk Center, Minnesota; Moab, Utah; Beards Fork; West Virginia; and Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Trips sponsored by USD's Center for Academic Global Engagement (CAGE) over this past winter break included domestic and international locations:

CUBA -- USD was the first South Dakota state school to sponsor travel to Cuba specifically with a focus on health services. Fourteen students, among the first Americans in over 50 years to enter Cuba, learned about health care, dentistry, education and elder care. The students were accompanied by Carole South-Winter, Ph.D., assistant professor of health services administration, who said Cuba’s health care system as a model that students can learn from. She predicts that the country will have a large medical tourism industry in the near future.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- Fifteen USD students traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for seven days and saw Middle Eastern culture from a new perspective. Stops included the Jumeriah Mosque, Falcon Hospital and Burj Khalifah, the tallest building in the world. One of the students on the trip, Ashley McKeown, said she was able to interact with people who had faced discrimination and social tension, and was encouraged by their kind words. The students were accompanied by Timothy Schorn, Ph.D., director of International Studies.

IRELAND -- Nineteen students traveled to Ireland for 10 days to attend lectures on leadership and entrepreneurship. The students were recruited through CAGE and accompanied by Kimberly Grieve, Ph.D., dean of students at USD. Though there were guided tours and lectures, the students had the freedom to explore on their own most afternoons.

The AWOL program, also part of CAGE, made it possible for numerous students to participate in service learning trips over winter break to Orlando, Florida; Dallas; Springfield, Missouri; and Guatemala. They worked with multiple organizations, including Give Kids the World, Senior Care Health & Rehabilitation Center and Habitat for Humanity. Each trip gave the students involved a new perspective, and allowed them to build new relationships with fellow students and the people they were serving.


Equador and Peru are among the location of future CAGE trips.


Read one student’s firsthand account of her first trip abroad, a missions trip to Puerto Rico.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News