Morehouse in Oaxaca
Morehouse College is working to expand the Morehouse in Oaxaca program to
1) broaden the areas of academic credit offered to students and provide them with service learning opportunities, and
2) provide professional development opportunities for faculty members and administrators.
The first faculty development seminar in Oaxaca lasted four weeks over the 2004-05 Christmas break. The Andrew Young Center for International Affairs plans to apply for additional funding to continue the project in the future.
The Oaxaca program aims to further internationalize Morehouse's service learning programs, community-based participatory research and public health services while emphasizing the College's interdisciplinary cooperation and African-American cultural heritage. Specific objectives are designed to improve foreign language and area studies by:
- broadening collaboration between foreign language faculty and those in other disciplines;
- increasing knowledge and understanding of Afro-Mexican culture and community in Oaxaca state;
- improving student and faculty fluency in Spanish for research and fieldwork abroad; and
- expanding the number of departments involved in foreign language and area studies projects.
In order to optimize each participant's experience, the program incorporates appropriate evaluation measures and monitoring strategies for each of its three components:
- pre-departure language instruction, orientation workshops and seminars
- in-country language instruction, seminars and field experiences
- follow-up dissemination, utilization and student/faculty recruitment
Highlights from First Seminar
Fourteen program participants visited Oaxaca for the 2004-05 seminar. Participants met with Mexican counterparts in their professional discipline to better understand their field in a foreign country. They also learned about Afro-Mexicans inhabiting the remote, impoverished black villages (or pueblos negros) on the Western coast of Oaxaca state, the Costa Chica.
During the trip to the Costa Chica, participants instituted several worthwhile projects that will allow future students to gain valuable experience while earning academic credit. For example:
- Public health and sociology faculty conducted research on nutrition and health services.
- A biologist examined the water quality and began a simple water purification project.
- Business faculty looked into local small business practices.
Community service and public health personnel, two sociologists, a biologist, and two faculty members from business and economics later returned to continue with their area projects. The business/economics faculty are also planning future business seminars.Perhaps the most exciting development from the Costa Chica involved the dean of admissions & records, who interviewed young men to identify possible scholarship recipients. Two students have been offered full four-year scholarships to Morehouse.