Making a Difference in Southeast Asia
From Appalachia to Hanoi, Thailand to London, the Bronx to the Galapagos, Mount students lead in research and service.
At the Mount, study abroad includes true cultural immersion and is academically rich.
Karen Cantor ’15 is a senior nursing major who spent three weeks in Vietnam conducting research and performing community service. She interviewed doctors and traditional healers about how they treat pain and learned about herbal remedies that figure significantly in Vietnamese medicine. She gained insights into Vietnamese values about illness and health, especially the emphasis on holistic living. The comparison to American medicine taught her more about home, as well.
“As a future psychiatric nurse in New York, I’m going to meet patients with different customs, so it’s important to know how to provide culturally competent care,” says Karen, whose honors thesis compares American and Vietnamese approaches to pain management. “I’m more aware that patients are not just illnesses and symptoms, but people with emotional, social, and family backgrounds.”
Todd Gable ’15 had a similar life-changing experience. Todd long knew that he wanted to be an English teacher and work with economically and socially underserved teenagers, but student teaching was disheartening, especially his experience at a Bronx high school where test preparation trumped learning about literature. “It was not what I thought being a teacher should be about,” he recalls.
Todd enrolled in a service project that sent him to Thailand to teach English to Burmese refugees. He spent seven weeks at a school that housed students and teachers alike. It was more than a school, he says. It was a community seeking a better life through education. “It revitalized my ambitions for teaching and what that can mean. It shared the qualities that make me love the Mount.”
Both Karen and Todd’s life-changing experiences were made possible through IPSL, a 30-year-old service learning organization with an office at the Mount. Possible sites for experiences like theirs span the globe. How many other colleges and universities combine the incomparable internship and service opportunities of New York with equally fine opportunities for international study?