Three members of the Mary Baldwin University community traveled to Haiti over spring break to explore ways of partnering with Haitian social work and health care programs to expand study abroad opportunities for MBU students.
Thanks in part to a High Impact grant issued by MBU’s Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement; Assistant Professor of Social Work and Director of Field Experience Doris Dodson, Director of Health Care Administration Donovan Branche, and student Rebecca Dubois ’18 spent the week learning about ways to send MBU students further into the field.
The High Impact grant is specifically designed for research abroad.
Branche met with medical administrators in Cange, Mirebalais, Port Au Prince, and Leogane to scout out future May Term trips for students.
“We wanted to explore ways to take students to Haiti, and I believe it’s important for students in health care to study overseas in order to have a broader world view,” Branche said.
Branche believes that students who are immersed in other cultures make better health care providers.
Likewise, Dodson taught a class at the Enstiti Travay Sosyal & Syans Sosyal Institute of Social Work and Social Science in Port Au Prince.
“I have gone to Haiti before with Mary Baldwin before,” Dodson said. “However, teaching a class this time was a different experience for me.”
Having to use an interpreter and dealing with minor cultural differences were challenges that Dodson overcame in her teaching experience. Explaining that there are some universal understandings when it comes to social work, Dodson said that instructors in every culture handle the material differently.
Branche said she found partnerships with medical facilities to be very promising, particularly those in Leogane. Dubois, who speaks four languages, served as an interpreter for the trip.
“When it came to speaking with the community members and for transportation needs, she was vital,” Branche explained.
If a trip is approved, Branche would take around eight to 10 students to Haiti where they would stress the importance of hand washing and germ control and take a general community needs assessment.
“Health care administration is the business side of health care,” Branche said. “We administer care, whereas health care providers deliver care.”
Upon returning to the States both educators feel they have made positive connections in Haiti and are currently working with their department heads to implement trips for students for May Term 2018.