International service-learning projects extend textbook knowledge into practical, real-world applications while giving students an opportunity to engage in a different culture. In May 2012, a group of Purdue students from various majors in the College of Agriculture, led by a student leader and faculty member, traveled to Costa Rica to complete several service-learning projects. These projects included: (1) the construction and installation of water filtration systems, (2) creating an animal health care curricula for local schools, and (3) finalizing a guidebook of fl ora and fauna to benefit an emerging ecotourism site. Maymester students met for an 8-week course prior to traveling that allowed for planning and preparation of the projects. The student leader and faculty member wrote and won grants to aid in the funding of the water fi ltration project as well as the animal health care project. All of these service-learning projects were a result of collaboration with Costa Rican community leaders to determine areas in their community that could use improvement. One of the key elements in service-learning is the concept of reciprocity. While the Maymester students provided a service to aid the Costa Rican communities, they also gained knowledge on cross-cultural collaboration and communication. Students generally reported feeling grateful for the opportunity to help a community and valued the learning process that came from working in another country.
"Sustainable Service-Learning Projects in the Tropics: A Costa Rica Maymester,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 1
, Article 4.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol1/iss1/4