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Professional Counseling students study abroad in India

Professional Counseling students recently took a two-week study abroad course to northern India. Led by associate professor Charles Lindsey, the purpose of the course was to explore and experience first-hand the mental health, spiritual, and social justice concerns that currently exist within Indian society.

Before taking the journey to India, students spent three days in the classroom learning about India’s culture, history and religion. The intent of the study abroad trip was to immerse the students into a different culture than their own. It enabled them to learn about counseling, mental health practices and how spirituality is intertwined into India’s culture. The class is designed toward personal growth and making students step out of their comfort zones to discover themselves as individuals.

Kathy Schoofs, who is working toward her master’s in school counseling and community counseling, was one of 13 graduate students who went on the study abroad trip.

“It is difficult to express in words what the trip means to us because all the students took something different from the experience. For me India was both amazing and overwhelming,” Schoofs said. “We were exposed to extreme poverty and a lifestyle very different from ours. The people we met and interacted with were inspiring and beautiful in their own ways.”

Prof Counseling in IndiaWhile in India the students not only received the opportunity to visit the many historical and culturally enriching tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal and the Agra Red Fort, they also visited a variety of schools and organizations. At the Annapurna Center, an organization that helps empower young women, the students played games and dressed in traditional Indian attire. At Ambedkar School, the students taught American songs such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “You Are My Sunshine.”

Upon returning home, each student was required to create a portfolio that reflected on what each individual took from the trip. The portfolios pieces ranged from scrapbooks, to Powerpoint presentations and art projects, which reflected and showcased each student’s feelings, thoughts and experiences during their time in India.

“My favorite part of the trip was when we were able to tour the village that the Annapurna center is located in. While we were touring the village we were passing an American football back and forth with the children and towards the end of the tour there at least 30 children playing with us. Interacting with the children was truly an amazing experience and when I think of my time India, I immediately think of those children,” said Schoofs.

To learn more about the Counseling, Spirituality and Culture in India study abroad trip, visit uwosh.edu/india.

By Carlyn Brown

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