Building Intercultural Competence: Greyhounds Around the World

Each spring, for three weeks in May, University of Indianapolis faculty teach courses that include a travel component, giving students the opportunity to enhance their cross-cultural skills.

Goals include developing cultural competence through international immersion, practicing social responsibility, and enhancing critical thinking skills—all highly sought-after skills in an increasingly global workforce. In 2019, University of Indianapolis students, faculty and staff visited Barbados, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, England, Ghana, Peru, and Spain.

Barbados

Designed to promote intercultural competence, this trip challenged students to explore the impact of culture on how people practice their professions. Led by Dr. Terrence Harewood, associate professor of teacher education, the group hosted a professional development workshop at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College for a standing-room-only audience from the island. The students’ activities were featured on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation television station and local radio stations.

“I loved learning about Barbados. The island was my classroom and the locals were my professors.” –Kelly Orban ’21 (sport management)

Costa Rica

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Nearly two dozen students, along with faculty, spent 10 days studying tropical ecology and biodiversity in the region, ranging from volcanoes to cloud forests. The itinerary included snorkeling, visiting a coffee plantation and exploring the Tortuguero National Park and the Corcovado National Park–encountering crocodiles, toucans and other native species along the way.

Ecuador

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Students and faculty partnered with Compassion International to host wellness clinics in rural villages in the Andes, completing health assessments for 250 children and interacting with more than 700 people. The trip was led by Dr. Kathy Hetzler, associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Shannon Moore, assistant professor of nursing.

“The medical mission trip to Ecuador was a great experience that provided me with opportunities to improve my nursing skills and better serve my future patients. I am so grateful to have received this opportunity!” –Kerigan Wesseler ’19 (nursing)

France & England

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Students gained deeper insights into cultures and world views of British and French communities, connecting domestic and international student populations through travel with help from Dr. Patricia Cabrera, instructor of Spanish, and Dr. George Ricco, assistant professor of engineering.

“People can be difficult to understand, but this trip helped with increasing my willingness and desire to comprehend cultures, subcultures and differences in general.” –Autumn Mayo ’20 (communication).

Ghana

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The eighth annual trip to Ghana incorporated healthcare components for the first time, allowing nursing students to accomplish important work and learn new skills. In addition to observing local clinics, the group addressed high-priority needs by teaching wound care and CPR techniques, malaria prevention, and brushing teeth. Greyhounds also funded the building of a primary school in Papase, dedicating the classrooms and teaching local children. The trip was led by Dr. Jodie Ferise, associate provost for international engagement and chief international officer, along with Tia Bell and Toni Morris, assistant professors of nursing.

“One of my favorite memories was walking into one of the schools there. Over a hundred kids came to school on a Saturday because they knew we were coming. It was so cool seeing their excitement as we taught about CPR, wound care, teeth brushing, and letting them hear their heartbeats.” –Shelby Riddle ’21 (nursing)

Peru

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This new international travel course introduced students to the region’s history, culture and social diversity. Faculty leaders Dr. Ana Maria Ferreira, assistant professor of Spanish, and Mimi Chase, director of international services, challenged students to develop their skills as critical writers, readers and thinkers. They visited Machu Picchu (one of the Seven Wonders of the World), Titicaca Lake, Lima and more during the 10-day excursion.

“Peru surpassed all my expectations. Arequipa was my favorite city we stayed in due to the amazing view of the volcanoes surrounding it. Machu Picchu was beautiful, and I enjoyed learning about Inca civilization.” –Joshua Rang ’19 (visual communication design)

Spain

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Accompanied by University Chaplain Rev. Jeremiah Gibbs and Krannert School of Physical Therapy faculty Dr. Frank Bates and Dr. Julie Gahimer, students completed a walking pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago across northern Spain to the Tomb and Cathedral of St. James. The 165-mile journey through 100 towns and villages took three weeks on foot.

“The pilgrimage to Santiago left a lasting impact on all of us. You learn so much about yourself and others, even strangers along the journey, and it honestly changes you as a person. You learn how to cope with aches and pains, all kinds of struggles, and sometimes unfavorable conditions while growing closer to your faith.” –Madyson Butkauskas ’22 (nursing)

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