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U.Va. Students Honored at International Service Learning Conference

February 6, 2008 – Three University of Virginia students were honored for their presentation of an innovative service-learning program at the inaugural student conference, "Transforming International Education Through Service-Learning," held Feb 1-3 in Raleigh, N.C.

The conference, sponsored by the International Academic Collaboration of the Atlantic Coast Conference, provided a forum for students and faculty to discuss ways of making study-abroad programs more service-oriented and service projects abroad more academic.

U.Va.'s delegation included eight undergraduate students, an international graduate student, an alumna returning from a stint in the Peace Corps and four faculty members. The delegation led presentations on best practices in service learning and participated in several poster sessions.

The poster presentation of U.Va. students Shokoufeh Dianat, Ricky Sahu and Veronica Yeh, "Students Collaborating to Build Biodigesters in Rural South Africa," was awarded first place among student presentations.

"This conference was a wonderful opportunity for U.Va. students to learn from other students and to introduce new ideas to other schools," said Marina Markot, the University's associate director for study abroad. "U.Va.'s entirely student-led Alternative Spring Break Program impressed and inspired many other students. U.Va. students and faculty benefited from networking with other schools and with representatives from within our own institution to discuss new service-learning initiatives."

ACC International Academic Collaboration is part of a broader collaboration effort among the ACC schools. Fostering innovative partnerships among member schools, ACC-IAC sponsors joint study-abroad and faculty development programs, as well as funding scholarships for study abroad.

Other U.Va. delegates included undergraduate students Jessalyn Elliott, Abbie Klinghoffer, Melissa Reese, Brian Gavron and Maggie Kirkpatrick; 2004 graduate Meredith Lawrence; graduate student Lunfundo Mavhandu; and faculty members Robert Swap, Mark White, Edith "Winx" Lawrence, and Markot.

For information about international service learning at U.Va., contact Mark White of the McIntire School of Commerce at (434) 924-7365 or maw3u@virginia.edu. For information about the ACC International Academic Collaborative, contact Rebecca Brown, director of U.Va.'s International Studies Office, or Marina Markot, associate director for study abroad, at (434) 982-3010.

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