Assistant Professor of Social Work Dr. Heather Kanenberg and Professor of Social Work Dr. Peggy McFarland will be taking students to Cairo, Egypt for the first time after visiting there this past January.
The service learning trip will take place this coming January from the first to the ninth. It is focused primarily on social work but is open to all majors and disciplines. The service learning trip will take ten students to travel to the Middle East and experience the culture in that region.
“We started this program with the intention and the goal of allowing students the opportunity to get involved in the culture and environment there,” said Kanenberg. Kanenberg and McFarland both visited Cairo last January to see if the program was feasible. They have been planning the trip in consultation with Ambassador in Residence John Craig, the Elizabethtown College Office of Study Abroad, and the American University of Cairo.
The trip to Cairo will be a beneficial endeavor for students, who will be exposed to culture in an area that is an integral component of our foreign policy and international relations. “One of our goals is to help students develop a knowledge and understanding of ways of helping across cultures. We want them to better understand what kinds of issues people in other environments and cultures face,” Kanenberg said. “We want students to identify what their role can be in this global society.”
Kanenberg also emphasized that the experience could lead to knowledge that students could not learn in the news or from a book.
“One of our goals is to help expose students to new cultural experiences and knowledge and information they would not be exposed to in a book,” she said. Students will have the opportunity to tour different historical landmarks such as the Citadel of Salah Al-Din, the Pyramids of Giza, Coptic Cairo, and the Khan El-Khalil Bazaar. Students and faculty will reside in the American University dorms in the Zamalek area of Cairo.
The students on the trip will be split into two small groups, each with a faculty member, in which they will go into the community to work with non-profit organizations. Students will help with things like physical labor, painting and restoration of buildings. They will also be given the opportunity to help teach both local children and adults how to speak English, do math and understand currency. The students will also attend lectures by academics and political scientists in order to further educate themselves about the recent changes in the region.
Kanenberg has recently shown concern for the turmoil that has been developing in the Middle East, specifically the assassination of a United States ambassador. “Right now, everything looks great. Dr. McFarland and I are both watching for any security concerns. We are not at any heightened risk of going right now because of who we are,” Kanenberg said. She informed me that she is in frequent contact with colleagues in Egypt and is following the non-Western media very closely.
Kanenberg expressed hope that this service learning trip would open more doors for future trips of a similar nature. “I’m hopeful that it will, I really am,” Kanenberg said. “I understand the concerns but it is so possible. I am very hopeful it will open doors. It is a great opportunity for exposure for Etown students and the College, educating for service and being a global citizen.” In closing, Kanenberg stated, “This is going to be a wonderful experience. It is an exciting doorway opportunity for students and for our college to think about getting involved in that region a little bit more.”