Education beyond borders: 2023 summer travel concludes with three international learning experiences

July 7, 2023

By Tessa Chilton

With boundless enthusiasm, 47 students from the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), ventured far beyond Belknap Campus on one of three international learning opportunities this summer.

These transformative experiences allowed students to immerse themselves in diverse cultures, collaborate with interdisciplinary teams and gain authentic experiences outside of the classroom.

The summer learning trips focused on three different areas - teaching, development and service:

1.     International Teaching Experience in Belize, Central America (May 14 – May 25)

The UofL International Service Learning Program (ISLP) has been going to Belize once a year since 1998. However, in 2000 Margaret Pentecost, assistant dean for student services at the CEHD, started the International Teaching Experience which invited elementary teacher education students to embark on a journey to Belize focused exclusively on learning and collaboration within Belizean host schools.

This year, 16 students from the Department of Special Education, Early Childhood & Prevention Science and the Department of Elementary, Middle & Secondary Teacher Education traveled alongside faculty John Finch, Sherri Brown and Scott Patton to work with Belizean teachers and students in the Red Bank rural community of Stann Creek District. Students also had the opportunity to visit historic landmarks such as the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins.

“The culture in Belize is vastly different from America. It took time to observe and listen in order to better understand the students,” said Nicole Ford, a senior elementary education major.

“We didn’t have access to the type of resources and technology that we’re used to in the United States. It was challenging to prepare lessons, but it forced us to be more creative,” said Abby Hageman, a senior elementary education major. “I loved getting to work with the 15 other UofL student teachers to come up with engaging activities for our different classes. I also enjoyed collaborating with my host teacher.”

Students: Addy Abels, Heather Allen, Kristen Amos, Hannah Cox, Nicole Ford, Iakynn Goldsmith, Abby Hageman, Jillian Harris, Teshan Henry, Jordyn Hunter, Katherine Kennedy, Malina Lara, Mackenzie Mahler, Avery Story, Jenna Price and Miranda Pleschek


2.     Global Human Resources Development in Dublin, Ireland (June 5 – June 10)

Six scholars, along with faculty Lynda Byrd-Poller and Valerie Ford from the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development, traveled to Dublin, Ireland to attend the University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) Conference hosted by the National College of Ireland (NCI). During the conference, the scholars participated in research sessions and workshops around global human resources development (HRD). One of the scholars, Deme Wharton, presented her paper "A&S Diversity and Equity Advocate Program: Impacts on Staff Hiring Committees."

 In addition to the conference, scholars enjoyed a private presentation with Barry Holmes, Director of Group Human Resources at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), cultural excursions, business visits and a networking gala. Everyone on the trip agree that the learning and networking was impactful, but the opportunity to meet and learn with peers and faculty in this manner was priceless. 

Students: Scott Boswell, Darice Chapel, Sarah Crismore, Raphael Garcia, Eliza Norton, and Deme Wharton


3.     International Service Abroad Program in Berlin, Germany (June 14 – June 27)

25 students along with faculty Gin Presley,Adam Cocco, Ime Okpokho and Anita Moorman from the Department of Health and Sport Sciences (HSS) were among 16,000 volunteers at the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany. Throughout the week, students worked in venue management, spectator services, sport presentation, social media, competition management, awards presentation and volunteer management in venues across Berlin, including Neptunbrunnen, Messe Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni and Olympiapark.

The Special Olympics World Games is the largest inclusive sport event in the world, bringing together 7,000 athletes and unified partners from 190 countries to compete in 26 different sports. This international experience provided HSS students and faculty with the opportunity to interact with hundreds of athletes, volunteers, coaches, and staff from around the world. In addition, the students enjoyed Berlin’s cultural heritage and history, including Museum Island, Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Wall. 

Students: Angel Okorie, Ben Strausbaugh, Bhoomi Shah, Cailey Hurst, Chris Nuckols, Emily Bridges, Heba Qaissi, Jaaylyn Mack, Josh Weikert, Kaela Dickerman, Katelyn Becker, Kylie Blake, Liz Corrao, Lizzy Stamper, Maddy Miller, Madison Bush, Michelle Goderwis, Mitchell Kirst, Peter Kakaletris, Reigan Lines, Steph Price, Sydney Keyes, Thiago de Queiroz, Zachary Smith and Zoie Soehngen.


Amy Lingo, Interim Dean of the CEHD, expressed her enthusiasm with the international learning experiences this year. “These transformative moments outside of the classroom play a pivotal role in student success,” said Lingo. “As we continue to provide these opportunities, we are shaping students to be, not only academically accomplished, but also well-rounded global citizens, ready to make a meaningful impact in their communities and beyond.”

International experiences are a testament to the CEHD's commitment to providing education that extends beyond the classroom. One alumnus, Cody Davis, who currently serves as a special education teacher for students with moderate to severe disabilities (MSD) at Cochran Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky, fondly remembers his transformative trip to Belize in 2017. 

“This trip helped me realize how fortunate I should feel every day. It showed me how to enjoy life truly for what it is,” said Davis. “Professionally, I learned to teach with minimal resources and think outside the box. This experience helped me better understand students from different backgrounds and challenged me to think differently about student misconceptions and viewpoints.” 

His advice for students considering the international learning program? Go for it. “Immerse yourself and be present. Be a sponge and soak in everything and take it for what it is,” said Davis. “It truly is an amazing opportunity that most people do not get to experience.”

The college will announce its 2024 International Learning experiences sometime this fall. Please check back on our website for more information on how you can be a part of international learning at the CEHD.

International learning is not made possible without the generous support of our alumni and friends. Consider making a gift to CEHD International Learning and empower our students to make a difference here and beyond.


Other 2023 International Experiences:

International Study Tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy | March 2023

 More CEHD News

About the College of Education and Human Development:

Founded in 1968, the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) is a vibrant community that prepares students for leadership in a variety of metropolitan settings including schools, public and private corporations, and governmental agencies.

CEHD embraces the University's mission to advance the intellectual, cultural, and economic development of our diverse communities and citizens. Our commitment to student success is unparalleled as we promote the highest levels of learning and social, emotional, and physical health and well-being for all children, individuals, and families.

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