Lesley University’s unique science and service semester in Guyana wins a national award.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
He achieved this experience through the Guyana Lesley Abroad Service Semester (GLASS), an innovative program that weaves ecological education, the study of indigenous culture, and community service in the South American savannah and rain forest.
“The overall experience was amazing, from getting to immerse myself in a culture that is unknown to most people, to doing hands-on work that helped me progress as a biology major,” reflects Makenzie, who is now a senior at Lesley.
The first study abroad program in Guyana, Lesley’s program facilitates cultural exchange between students and the Macushi people of the Yupukari region, supporting a local initiative to increase literacy and numeracy among the indigenous population, while providing hands-on environmental studies. The program recently won national acclaim from the Forum on Education Abroad, which honored program co-founder Alice Layton with the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design for the Indigenous Natural Resource Ecology course.
“This program restores some of the connection we’ve lost with nature and our own roots as humans,” says Dr. David Morimoto, Director of Lesley’s Natural Science and Mathematics division. “This is being driven by the real-world problems of indigenous people of Guyana, who face threats to their environment, land, culture and even language, and they need a voice and are benefiting from the power of education.”The program creates apprenticeships for students with villagers for practice-based study of tropical ecology, indigenous knowledge, and cross-cultural eco-pedagogy.
“Study abroad is place-based education, and indigenous knowledge is also place-based,” explains Alice Layton.
“It’s learning to look at your own culture and other cultures consciously, and it’s about community service – giving students the lifelong skill of being a helper, whatever profession they choose."
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