New programs take Rams abroad

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) students are going global thanks to the launch of three unique faculty-led study abroad programs, and the extension of other programs.

“The number of students studying abroad each year is now the highest ever,” said Joti Sekhon, director of international programs and professor of sociology at WSSU. “This increase is due mainly to faculty engagement with internationalization and enhanced efforts to advise students and promote programs.”

Over the past four years, the number of WSSU students who’ve study abroad has increased 50 percent.

Since March, WSSU students have traveled to three new destinations: Cuba, South Africa, and India. Students also returned to Kenya for a spring break trip. Each program was developed through international partnerships. 

Cuba: Afro Cuban Studies

WSSU students and faculty pictured with artist Martha Jimenex at her studio in Camaguey during a 14-day study abroad in Cuba.

Thirteen WSSU students and seven faculty journeyed to Cuba on May 27 for a 14-day program that focused on Afro-Cuban culture, history, religions, health, education and community development.

Stops included: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second largest city; Santa Clara’s historic downtown; Regla, an Afro Cuban historic community; and Old Havana.

Lakhia Fuller, a senior biology major from Goldsboro, said she wishes she would’ve taken advantage of WSSU international programs sooner.

“In Cuba, I learned to sit and take in all of the simple yet beautiful things in life,” Fuller said. “Going to Cuba was completely out of my comfort zone, but it allowed me to grow into a more observant, creative, assertive, flexible, and confident person.”

The Afro-Cuban studies program was created through a $41,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State and Partners of the Americas. As part of the program, WSSU also developed a semester-long course, African American Studies 3020, that explores Afro-Cuban history and culture. The course is taught by Dr. James Pope, assistant professor in the Department of Liberal Studies. Students also enrolled in a Spanish language course to prepare for the program.

University of Western Cape, South Africa

WSSU's School of Health Sciences faculty and students with children from the Baitul Ansaar Orphanage in Mitchells Plain, a township in Cape Town, South Africa, during study abroad with the University of Western Cape. 

Earlier this summer, four healthcare management students from WSSU’s School of Health Sciences (SOHS) became the first to study abroad as part of a new partnership with the University of Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa. During the trip, June 15-25, students learned about the healthcare system in South Africa, and gained a comparative perspective on issues of health equity in the US and Southern Africa.  

Kevin Byers, assistant dean for administrative services for WSSU’s SOHS, said the goal is to establish longer exchange opportunities for students, faculty and staff at WSSU and at the UWC.

The dean and faculty from the School of Community and Health Sciences at UWC have visited WSSU twice since the Memorandum of Understanding was established in 2017.

Jamia Millia Islamia University, India

WSSU social work faculty and students visit the Taj Mahal during their spring break study abroad in India.

Students and faculty from WSSU’s social work program spent spring break in India through a partnership with Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI), a minority-serving institution in New Delhi. WSSU's partnership with JMI started five years ago as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to integrate India into the liberal arts curriculum. The partnership began with faculty exchanges. This was the first study abroad for students.

Kenyatta University, Kenya

Senior nursing student Rashaun Brown takes a quick selfie with African elephants during a study abroad trip to Kenya.

Thirteen students participated in a study abroad program in collaboration with Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, over spring break. This six-year partnership allows WSSU students to learn about the history, culture and politics of Kenya and east Africa within a colonial, post-colonial and global context. In addition to lectures on campus, students are engaged with artistic projects in the local community and travel for an excursion designed to expose them to the Kenya’s global connections via trade and tourism.

Increasing Student Opportunities

"Through these and other faculty-led programs, such as those in Brazil and China, as well as the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), there are increased opportunities for study abroad for WSSU students," Sekhon said. 

WSSU continues its partnership with Hubei University of Medicine in China. WSSU and Hubei signed a five-year collaborative agreement that expanded opportunities for WSSU nursing students and faculty to study in China. Nursing students and six faculty from the SOHS visited Hubei over spring break in March. 

This summer, nearly 30 WSSU students are traveling abroad. Additional destinations include: Costa Rica, Tanzania, Botswana, Austria, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, and Belize.

WSSU’s Office of International Programs seeks to facilitate curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities to equip graduates with knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors to function as globally competent citizens. For more information about study abroad programs, visit the WSSU’s International Programs website.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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