BEYOND BORDERS: PLANTING SEEDS OF CONSCIENTIZATION AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

Olena Huzar, Myroslaw Tataryn, Maria Truchan-Tataryn

Abstract



University international experience programs generally emphasize activities which nurture language skills and/or cross-cultural sensitization. Through a pilot project, St. Jerome’s University has developed a unique  model in cooperation with the Ternopil Pedagogical National University (Ukraine). While providing language-education and cultural sensitization through a 90-day placement for Canadian students in Ternopil, Ukraine, the main focus of the placement is working (volunteer) in PetrykyInternat with abandoned young women and children with disabilities. In order to prepare the students for the experience they are obligated to take two university credited half-courses in the year prior to their placement. The courses and experience focus on a) sensitizing the students to issues of NorthSouth disparity, disability, and political/social marginalization; and b) the model of being a co-learner during the placement, rather than an “aid worker”. Over the pilot period the Canadian students have remarked on their personal transformation and political maturation whereas in Ternopil we have recognized new attitudes towards the residents of the Internat, both among the staff, University students, University administration, and city-dwellers. The paper will highlight major aspects of this program from the critical perspective of Disability Studies and suggests it as a model for other universities.

Key Words: Planting seeds of conscientization, social transformation


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