Since 2011, nearly 30 students from Salem State University (SSU) have spent spring break in Liberia learning about and helping out people in that equatorial African nation. Students have accompanied SSU faculty from four departments (Interdisciplinary Studies, Education, Biology and Nursing). Activities in Liberia are facilitated through a formal Memorandum of Understanding between SSU and the United Methodist University of Liberia (UMU) established in 2011 and renewed in 2016.
During spring semester student will learn about Liberian history, culture, education, health care, jobs and food security. Students learn the average age is 18, 32% of young people are physically stunted due to undernourishment, and 48% live in extreme poverty. Nearly 2/3’s of rural youth are illiterate. The situation for adults is equally dismal; 87% are categorized as “vulnerably unemployed”. Exacerbating this already stressed situation was the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2015, in that time Ebola killed one out every 1,000 Liberians.
When students visit Liberia, they apply and share the knowledge gained at SSU (and elsewhere) to help Liberians help themselves. These personalized experiences in Liberia are varied and credited as a course ( depending on students major, e.g., EDU 500, IDS 289, BIO 408), which includes reporting on what was done and its relevance.
Universally, the Liberian Experience has proven gratifying and rewarding as evidenced by the successes realized by former participants who are now teachers, professors, technicians, nurses and finalizing advanced degrees. To help sustain this experience so other young people can participate, learn, grow and contribute we seek your assistance.
Any assistance that you could provide would be GREATLY appreciated!