47a5dd37b3127cce9854895e5ece00000030100AbsWbhy0auGvgFor a group of Winona State University students, spring break plans include serving the needs of elementary school children in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Special Education travel study course gives WSU students the opportunity to spend March 5-13, 2016 at the Pedro Plains Primary School working on a construction project and leading educational activities. They will also bring donations of money, clothes, household items, and school and medical supplies.

“We hope to help our students to appreciate other cultures and show how we can serve others,” said WSU Dean of Science & Engineering Charla Miertschin.

This is the sixth year of WSU’s Special Education Jamaica travel study, which is coordinated by special education professors Carol Long and Jim Kirk, and Nancy Dumke, associate director of Access Services. Miertschin, music professor Dr. Cathy Schmidt, and Post-Secondary Enrollment Options assistant Kim Gresham will serve as travel leaders and register through WSU’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education (ACE).

Miertschin estimated the WSU group will bring one ton of donated goods and more than $4,000 to give to students and teachers at the local schools. In addition, the students will help build a net ball court, similar in size to a basketball court, teach a literacy course centered around migratory birds, and play music games and interact with the children.

The visit is also about making meaningful cultural connections, added Miertschin, who also went on the trip in 2015.

“Being there, you definitely realize how many things you take for granted in our own plentiful American lives, even though they are quite happy with what they have,” she said. “It’s learning what really matters. You observe how different cultures deal with physical and mental disabilities, and our students, as future teachers, can begin to identify with more of the socioeconomic backgrounds from which their future students may come.”

Jamaica 2016 Travel Study

Pedro Plains Primary School students show their WSU spirit.

Follow the Jamaica Special Education travel study group online to share in all of their experiences.

Two other WSU student groups have planned international study trips for spring break.

Professor Kathryn Ready is taking 14 College of Business students to three cities in China to visit businesses that are connected to Winona companies, including Fastenal, and study their practices.

Eight College of Education graduate students, led by Professor Theresa Waterbury, are headed to New Zealand for an educational leadership course.

For more information, contact WSU International Programs assistant Dana Engel at dengel@winona.edu