Dr. Steve Kramer Shares El Salvador Work Trip Experiences at LINC Luncheon

May 25, 2010


Dr. Steve Kramer, professor of psychology, and two of the students who accompanied him on his most recent work trip to El Salvador presented “El Salvador for Spring Break: Are You Kidding Me?” at the LINC Community Luncheon held February 17.

Kramer spoke about the significant impact serving abroad has had in his life and how it led him to find ways to enhance the education experience for his students. He has been organizing work trips to various countries for many years and was inspired to do so through his own unique experience abroad.

Before joining the Mount Union faculty in 1974, Kramer had the opportunity to teach for two years in Baghdad, Iraq. “I felt it changed my life in many ways,” he said. “I came to grow dramatically from that experience.”

When he began teaching at the College, he began to explore ways to provide a similar experience for his students. “Personal wellbeing increases dramatically when students become more socially responsible,” said Kramer. “There is a poverty of experience in the classroom alone and these trips add to the education experience.”

kramerstudentsMatt Merlene, a senior psychology major of Conneaut, signed on for the trip because he loves to travel and had participated in a work trip as part of a youth organization. In El Salvador, Merlene was struck by the extreme level of poverty and the huge gap that exists between the rich and the poor. “They showed us so much hospitality,” said Merlene. “I learned that everyone takes care of others and their guests, and I have learned not to take for granted what I have as well.”

Bekah Deppert, a senior psychology major of Avon, was impressed with how interested people were in getting to know the students. “They were genuinely interested in getting to know us,” said Deppert. She shared how they ended their time there with a Game Night during which they played soccer and gave the children of the village gifts that they had brought along. “We gained a sense of community as a group as well,” she added. “We all got to know each other better.”

Kramer established the Wilderness Experience in 1976 and the Social Responsibility Course in 1992, which has included annual Spring Break service trips to various third world countries. He was one of the first at Mount Union to incorporate service-learning in the classroom and was instrumental in establishing an Office of Service-Learning and Community Service on campus.  He also helped establish JANUS, a student organization that focuses on citizenship and social justice, and was involved in the founding of the Alliance Area Habitat for Humanity.

The Community luncheon series known as LINC (lunch, information, networking, and conversation) that began last year was conceived to take advantage of the local expertise from Mount Union’s faculty and staff that exists in Alliance, in light of the College’s exceptional academic reputation.

The sessions are open to the public and run from noon until 1 p.m. during the third Tuesday of the months of September, October, November, February, March and April. The cost for the lunch is $9 and will be served in the Hoover-Price Campus Center.

The March 17 session will feature Dr. Martin Horning, professor of economics, accounting and business administration, who will present “Puzzling Through the U.S. Financial Crisis” and the April 21 session will feature Dr. Jamie Capuzza, professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication, who will focus on “Global Advances in Women’s Rights.”

For further information or to make a reservation contact Diane Thomas, assistant director of public affairs at (330) 823-6063 or e-mail thomasdl@mountunion.edu. Payment will be accepted at the door, but space is limited so call to reserve your spot today.

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