Cabrini Education and Business students will have the opportunity to experience Bridges to Zambia, a month-long service learning trip to Lusaka, Zambia in summer 2022, thanks to two grants from the prestigious Fulbright-Hays federal program. The trip will be Cabrini students’ second journey to Zambia since the inaugural trip in 2019. These two grants, including one originally intended for 2021, enable Cabrini to expand the the 2022 cohort from 12 to 24 students.
“These Fulbright grants have a long history of facilitating cross-cultural communication, which is definitely keeping with Cabrini’s mission and our goals for students,” said Martha Ritter, PhD, Associate Professor, Teacher Education. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to offer students.”
Undergraduate students enrolled in two Engagements with the Common Good (ECG) courses—People, Planet, and Profits and Bridges to Zambia—as well as graduate students in Education (MEd), Business (MBA), and Leadership and Organization Development and Change (PhD), can apply for the travel grant with their instructors. The first Bridges to Zambia grant project is led by Erin McLaughlin, PhD, Chair and Professor, Business, and Susan Pierson, PhD, ESL Program Coordinator and Associate Professor, Education, while the latest grant will be supervised by Ritter and Celia E. Szelwach, DBA, Professor of Practice, Leadership and Organization and Change.
In Zambia, Cabrini students will engage with students and teachers at St. Lawrence School, a Pre-K‒8 school in the capital city of Lusaka. Ritter said St. Lawrence School’s leadership has more than doubled the student body’s passing rate for Zambia’s national exams in recent years, thanks to dedicated teachers and eager students.
“The environment of this particular school is amazing,” Ritter said. “There are all these hardships that you know are in the children’s lives, and yet they’re so ready to learn.”
During the 2019 trip, Business students established a social business, Peace By Piece, a Zambian crafts company, in partnership with women and girls at Lusaka women’s shelter Vision of Hope. Szelwach said Cabrini students will continue to help this small startup work toward self-sufficiency through fundamental practices like community asset mapping, which focuses on “looking for strengths instead of deficits.”
Whether studying to be a business leader or teacher, Ritter said Cabrini students can expect an immersive and diverse learning experience in Lusaka.
“Many of us don’t know much about Africa particularly the colonial history of Africa,” said Ritter, who traveled with the first Bridges to Zambia cohort in 2019. “[This experience serves] to help us to understand some of that history and Zambia’s struggles for self-determination and freedom.”
Zambia also faces challenges stemming from climate change and environmental degradation, Ritter said, which further contributes to the extreme poverty. Interacting with the Zambian people, especially students, is a learning experience for everyone involved.
“It’s definitely a reciprocal situation,” Ritter said. “We bring certain assumptions and learn to question those assumptions.”
Complete with field trips to famed landmark Victoria Falls and Zambezi National Park, as well as other important Zambian cultural and historical sites, Bridges to Zambia is a unique opportunity for students to learn, teach, and evolve through a new cultural lens.
“You see where you came from so much more clearly when you see a new place,” Ritter said. “You create friendships across boundaries that you never expected to cross.”