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University of Central Missouri
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Global Vision Students Share Experiences in India

Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 6, 2014) - For four University of Central Missouri students, the opportunity to spend a week abroad in India was a life-changing experience. They shared their experiences in India as participants in UCM’s Global Vision Service Learning Program during the summer of 2014 during a recent panel presentation in the UCM Gallery of Art and Design.

Global Vision Panel 2014
Michael Sekelsky, left, associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, introduced the four participants in Global Vision 2014. They are, left to right, Jayme Smith, Austin Teagarden, Nicole Valenzuela and Audrey Amor.

Jayme Smith, a senior international studies major from Rolla; Nicole Valenzuela, a senior economics major from Warrensburg; Austin Teagarden, a senior pre-physical therapy major from Bettendorf, Iowa; and Audrey Amor, a senior special education major from Kansas City, used photos to illustrate their presentation. Joining them by Skype was their advisor, UCM faculty member Amy Jammeh.

The students were selected following a selection process that designates one student from each of UCM four academic colleges. Each summer, the Global Vision team spends two weeks volunteering on community projects such as supporting youth and adults with special needs, teaching English to children from pre-school through high school, and supporting at-risk individuals needing special emotional support. The students are provided with a unique opportunity to learn about working with host partners on family-friendly service efforts with grass-roots agencies in a friendly and historically rich region.

The group spent their time in the coast Indian city of Chennai, working with children in the Christ King School, Little Angel Early Intervention Center, Assisi Day Care and the Seam Children’s Home. They were able to interact with children ages pre-school through 16 in school and orphanage settings. During their experience, they were hosted by a family in their home in Chennai.

“They understand a smile,” Valenzuela said, describing her experience in communication through the language barrier.

Teagarden, making reference to his own experience in foster care, noted that the experience working with orphaned children at the Seam Children’s Home made a lasting impression on all of the students

“I worked with a little girl named Stella,” he said, “teaching her the ABCs. At one point she grabbed my cheeks and said ‘I love you!’”

Smith said the experience with the children left them all grateful for what they have.
“These children had so little, but they were all anxious to share with us,” she said. “It was also interesting to see how these small children had learned to take care of and comfort one another.”

“I didn’t think I would form a bond with the children,” Valenzuela said, “but it was an emotional experience when our two cultures combined.”

All four of the student agreed they felt privileged to be able to share their experiences, and they had a clear message for future Global Vision students.

“We got more than we expected,” Amor said. “None of us knew exactly what to expect, but we were able to learn about the a culture so very different than our own, and we have the opportunity to bring those experiences back and share them. Be prepared for an emotional experience.”

The Global Vision Service Learning Project was founded in 2008. The program is funded by an endowment through UCM Foundation created by an anonymous UCM alumnus, along with financial support by the UCM International Center, the UCM President’s Commission on Inclusivity, and the Warrensburg Rotary Club. UCM students have completed the service learning experience in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Poland and India during the past four years.