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Sept. 20, 2013
By Kari Sierks, media relations assistant
Two Northwest faculty members and five students visited Panama last month for a nine-day visit of service learning to cap a study abroad course that included a study of Latin American culture.
In Panama, the faculty and students led a daylong workshop for regional teachers that addressed classroom management and learning styles. The benefits from the workshop will further the work of the Pro-Ed Foundation to improve teacher skills in Panamanian classrooms.
The Pro-Ed Foundation, founded by Panamanian philanthropist Alex Psychoyos, is headed by Psychoyos' daughter, Debbie Psychoyos, who was Northwest's 2008 Ploghoft Lecturer and is currently an Ed.D. candidate in Northwest's cooperative doctorate program offered through the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Northwest students worked with faculty members Dr. Nissa Ingraham and Dr. Carla Edwards and ProEd Foundation at schools in Panama City and in the interior at El Pajaro schools.
The group traveled to the rain forest and the Panama Canal as well as to the old town of Panama City. They visited schools and homes in impoverished rural areas, interacted with middle class families and teachers and were treated to a dinner and evening in the home of the Debbie Psychoyos.
The students painted school classrooms, cleaned school-area yards and helped children with English vocabulary and cultural sensitivity. The students also gained a respect for the country and culture of Panama.
Jeff Blevins, a senior psychology major from Kansas City, said the students were exposed to different lifestyles and social classes on the trip. They experienced how Panama differs from the United States.
“Getting to see the social stratification of Panama was enlightening,” Blevins said. “Seeing how different Panama City and the interior are and how Panama as a country is developing economically was very eye-opening for me.”
Debbie Psychoyos has provided international learning experiences for Northwest students for four years. Every evening the group turned their focus to in-depth discussions of the psychological differences between people of different backgrounds and socioeconomic status. The experience was focused on understanding Latin American culture across the spectrum of race, religion and socio-economic status.
Next month, Debbie Psychoyos will speak at Northwest as part of the Ploghoft Diversity Lecture series. The series is designed to enhance the academic environment through individual discipline and interdisciplinary topics.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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