Each year, Karen Breitkreuz, an associate professor in the School of Nursing, and Anthony Songer, a professor in the College of Engineering’s construction management program, take a group of students to Belize as part of an upper-level class titled Global Citizenship and Responsibility.
The class is open to all students, who meet during spring semester to prepare for the 10-day trip to Belize, which spans over spring break.
“We focus on discussing concepts of global citizenship, cultural intelligence, leadership and team building,” Breitkreuz said. “Students complete service projects as requested by our Belizean partner elementary school. Our Boise State students lead a three-day healthy lifestyles day camp and then complete construction projects that help ensure the sustainability and flourishing of the school. They have renovated the school garden and playground, and for the past three years, they have built a cantina, or outdoor covered patio area, where the children can eat their lunches.”
Breitkreuz said that one reason the class is so popular – and successful – is that students learn to apply their skills, whatever their academic major, to directly benefit the children and community. They learn the importance of early education through their healthy lifestyle classes and they acquire basic physical skills that they use to enhance an elementary school in an underserved community.
“Students build relationships with the teachers, principles and children, they learn to communicate across cultures, and they learn a tremendous amount about leadership and teamwork by completing their projects in a foreign yet safe setting,” she said.
The class raises funds for the projects through Boise State’s “PonyUp” program. Below is a link to a short video the students created to thank their donors: https://youtu.be/DIM5XJac1-w