A Summer to Remember
While many students were enjoying time off between school semesters, Andrew Young ’20 was conducting research on the ground in Lusaka, Zambia. Young, along with 11 fellow Cornell students, spent last summer abroad as part of the Zambia Global Service Learning Program.
“Most summers, I'm at home, spending time with my family. My Zambia experience was my first time outside of North America,” he said.
The program, now in its fifth year of collaboration with Cornell’s Global Health Program, gives ILR students the opportunity to complete a research project on topics in the sphere of global health and labor relations.
The students are embedded with local organizations for eight weeks to gain a deeper understanding of structural issues and questions facing local communities. They study and present their findings with the support of the Southern Africa Institute for Policy and Research, an independent research center with the goal of educating and influencing policymaking in the region.
Research topics dovetailed with the students’ interests and ranged from disability inclusion to healthcare access.
Alexandra Phelps ’20 and Efe Airewele, HumEc ’20, worked at the Sani Foundation, researching the labor market experiences of persons with intellectual disabilities. They interviewed stakeholders in the disability sector to identify barriers to labor market access, then summarized their findings in a 50-page report.
Young spent his summer investigating the intersection of gender-based violence and African customary law, and presented his findings to community stakeholder.
“I thought it was most important that my research make an impact in the community. By presenting the findings, I hope that my research will have an influence on gender-based violence,” he said.
Cuong Pham ’20, and Amrit Hingorani, CALS ’20, researched the impact of mining on access to the health care system. The paper they produced has been selected by their host institute for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
The program allows participants to explore career interests and potential paths in a unique international setting.
Phelps said, “My experience in Zambia clarified my interests and reinforced my desire to join the Peace Corps.”
“By engaging with a culture and population different from that of Cornell and my hometown in Maryland, I was forced to challenge every notion of what I deemed normal. In doing so, I widened my perspective.”
Students also found time to explore Zambian culture.
“On the weekends, if we weren’t with our homestay families, we would visit an elephant orphanage, the local market, or play soccer with locals,” Phelps said.
Young said, “We took two group trips -- one to Livingstone, where we saw Victoria Falls, and another to Kapiri Mposhe, where we spent a long weekend with a Peace Corps volunteer. Both experiences were amazing and made the program even more enriching. I'm so grateful for Cornell and ILR for providing me with this unbelievable opportunity.”