Guam native creates unique study abroad program - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam native creates unique study abroad program

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A group of students have flown across the Pacific to raise awareness about public health in Guam's community, while also gaining valuable cross-cultural and career experiences. Dr. Mark Perez is a professor at Central Washington University, but his love for his home island of Guam led him to create a study abroad program, that brings CWU students to Guam every summer to engage in service learning experiences geared toward health education.

"We kind of thought what is a way that we can allow our students from central to come and experience a diverse a diverse culture to experience study abroad, and to come out of the comfort zone but to also apply what they've been learning in their programs," he explained. Assistant professor of public health, Dr. Tishra Beesan added, "What they're doing now is their fieldwork and internship experiences, so they get to come to the island of Guam, work with different populations from really across the lifespan, from early childhood all the way through early adults."

The students conduct health education lessons in everything from anti-bullying to nutrition and self-esteem. They have been working with summer camp students at the University of Guam, and the Sinajana and Agana Heights Mayor's Offices. Student Courtney Cook said, "I think this experience has really just going to help me become a better, well-rounded teacher, and it makes me really want to hurry up and get done with school that way I can get into my own classroom, and I know I'm going to leave an impact on the children here."

Student Linsay Cristobal also said, "I definitely have been reassured even just in the short time that I've been here that I've picked the right major and the right field to go into and just getting to experience it and actually live it, because sitting in a classroom you never think oh I wonder what it's like outside of the college campus."

Students have also been working with senior citizen centers in both Sinajana and Mangilao.  Student Makenna Robinson said, "We've also done some focus groups with the senior citizens which has been really interesting to hear from them what they think about health at their age in this community."

After the two week outreach program, students will move on to a one month internship at the department of public health and social services. Dr. Perez says the mutually beneficial partnership is something he hopes to continue for years to come, adding, "There's lots of prospects of what we can do with future collaboration, and we're excited about doing that."

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