When three divinity students arrive in western Kenya this summer, their internships with the Umoja Project will represent an expanding network of global partnerships for learning and service.
Since 2001, the number of Duke Divinity students serving international internships has increased sevenfold — from three in South Africa six years ago to a new high of 21 spread between Africa and Central and South America during the coming summer.
This commitment to international learning and service shows no sign of becoming a passing trend. More than ever, prospective applicants are ranking the opportunity for contextual learning in other cultures a top priority.
Students in this summer’s group, many of whom have been inspired by returning students’ stories of transformation, will intern in Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, Uganda, and, for the first time, Kenya.
The international field education program began in the summer of 2001 when three students traveled to South Africa, where Peter Storey, a former bishop and national leader of the Methodist Church of Southern African and now Williams professor emeritus of the practice of Christian ministry, had arranged for them to serve and learn.
Those students returned to Duke overwhelmed by the hospitality they encountered in an environment where so many were suffering, says Paige Martin D’08, assistant director of field education. “They came back saying, ‘We thought we had so much to give, but instead we gained so much.’ ”