Summer international service learning course

Asset-based community development to promote social-emotional well being for youth in Malawi

  • Travel to Malawi for 20 days in late May/early June
  • Earn 6 credits toward elective courses


This course provides an opportunity for students of diverse backgrounds and interests to learn about sustainable development, with a focus on Malawi in the southern region of Africa.

In addition to Binghamton class time, the course involves approximately three weeks in Malawi working closely with a local non-governmental organization, the Malawi Children's Mission (MCM), and the three rural communities it serves: M'bwana, Jamali and Mwanzama.

Originally established as a feeding center for children who have been orphaned, MCM has expanded to provide pre-school and primary education. Approximately 60 children attend school at MCM and over 150 children receive a range of social-emotional and youth development support through the program.


In previous trips, Binghamton students have:

  • worked closely with adults helping to develop a small entrepreneurial enterprise
  • provided professional development to teachers and staff of MCM
  • worked with children and teens to support their education and development

While some projects are ongoing, other service projects are finite and geared to the talents and interests of Binghamton students who participate in the project.

Class meetings

Four class meetings prior to the trip are dedicated to the review of travel requirements (i.e., valid passport, tourist visa, what to expect in Malawi, etc.) and the preparation for our service activities.

Students have one academic assignment due during this time: a two-page bullet pointed issue brief describing a social, political or economic area of interest. Issue briefs are used to inform discussions in class meetings.

In classes prior to the trip, students learn about:

  •  international development
  • the historical and current role of the U.S. and Europe in African development
  • the nature and structure of non-governmental and non-profit organizations
  • strengths and needs of rural communities


Individually and as a class, considerable time is dedicated to exploring our role in international service and the ethical implications of this time in Malawi. Following the trip, students write a paper or develop a digital storytelling project reflecting on a social work issue in Malawi.


For more information, contact the Department Chair and MSW Program Director at 607-777-9156.