Xavier University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 2836-2840
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1631
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
For over 20 years Xavier University has been increasing students’ global awareness with numerous service learning opportunities which have been aligned with high social and ethical values in the Jesuit tradition. One in particular is the immersion experience in Nicaragua which has benefited all involved constituents. Initially in 1995, the educational focus for this particular program was “solidarity” but more recently has evolved into “social entrepreneurship.”

The objectives of the newly designed program are to:
(1) increase insight on how to deal with social problems that would enhance social and economic wealth in a Nicaraguan community with little regard to monetary profits for Xavier students,
(2) enhance Xavier students understanding of entrepreneurship, culture, social norms in Nicaragua, and
(3) expand knowledge of the entire Xavier community on globalization and its impact on individuals and society.

This program is a great case study of education and globalization and the benefits that can be gained by international immersion efforts when academic units across an institution and its local community cross-collaborate.

Globalization is the compression of the world and the intensified mindfulness of the world. While most would refer to increased commerce as the main outcome of globalization, expanded reach has allowed education to spread to the far parts of the world. The result has been overall betterment of society through globalization. Third world nations are exposed to methodologies and techniques that have well served developed nations. With this in mind the Nicaraguan international study program was designed and delivered. The service component functioned as the medium through which learning could occur by placing all study in the context of living and working with the economically poor in solidarity. An increased interest by leaders and the community in Nicaragua provided an opportunity to expand the initial project beyond Solidarity to one of greater value resulting in the new focus of Social Entrepreneurship.

In this experience, students are awakened to the nature of a developing economy, society and how social entrepreneurship can create greater good to society akin with Jesuit values. The Center for International Business at Xavier is expanding the value of the immersion experience by actively involving all Xavier stakeholders. Local Xavier business participants along with political speakers who deal with Central American countries educate Xavier students over a week of activities organized around social entrepreneurship and Nicaragua. Former immersion students also participate to share their experiences. A case competition focused on Central American issues provide greater student understanding of the region. Once on site, Nicaraguan business owners work with Xavier students to assist in business plans that are viable and sustainable in Nicaragua.

The end result of all these efforts is an enduring understanding of globalization along with a lasting kinship in Nicaragua. The challenge with immersion trips in developing countries is navigating educational interactions so that everyone can benefit and this program is successfully doing this.
Service Learning, Globalization, Social Entrepreneurship.