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10 Reasons for Participation in
International Civic and
Social Action Projects

By Joy Charlton
Professor of Sociology and
Director of the Eugene M. Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility

1. Today, students’ ideas of community are not limited to their immediate surroundings. They go to places where they see need, whether that is across town or across the world.

2. Social action abroad helps us to identify those characteristics that we share with all humanity.

3. Students have a keen desire to experience another culture and worldview, while bringing their energy and compassion as well as the testing of their ideas in the spirit of reciprocity.

4. Students develop commitments to particular communities internationally when they study abroad, take a gap year, volunteer, or travel—and choose to return.

5. For some students, “hometown” is in another country; they want to “give back” out of a sense of appreciation, concern, and connection.

6. Students unable to study abroad during the academic year because of curriculum demands can receive a grant from the College to engage in social justice activities abroad during the summer.

7. Social action abroad gives our students new approaches to solving problems by exposing them to strategies and priorities different from our own.

8. Conducting a project or working with partners in a culturally different setting encourages students to break out of their comfort zones and learn invaluable communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills that will translate to future work anywhere.

9. Building individual relationships around the world is a powerful tool in creating international cooperation.

10. Acts of helpful, humble, and intentional assistance in the context of the highest level of educated preparation make us more effective, more humane, and more respectful global citizens.

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