This summer, Caitlin Canfield combined her love of travel with her commitment to service by taking ten Sojourner Truth Academy students on a service learning trip to Panama. Canfield is a master's student in international health and development at Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
A volunteer at the New Orleans charter high school, Canfield saw firsthand how the school's students, almost all from low-income families, had never had the opportunity to travel and "be a tourist."
With the exception of Katrina, "most have never been out of New Orleans,"Canfield notes. Calling travel a "transformative experience," she decided to find a way to share it with these kids.
The trip lasted ten days and included service learning projects in both urban and rural areas of Panama. Two nights were spent in home stays with rural host families. All ten of the students are in Spanish classes at Sojourner Truth, which has a social justice focus and requires community service.
Canfield designed the trip to include a variety of experiences - service, culture, and environment - with ample opportunity for students to interact with local families and other teenagers.
To coordinate the trip, she partnered with Fundacion ProEd, a non-profit that brings together public and private school kids in Panama to complete community projects. Tulane alumna Nanette Svenson is involved in the
organization and has assisted Canfield with in-country arrangements.
Costs for the trip - which runs about $2,000 per student - were covered 100% through fundraising activities, such as raffles, letter writing campaigns, and events.
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