Social responsibility can be broadly defined as acting ethically with sensitivity toward cultural, social, economic, and environmental issues. In some cases, this may be passive – for example, consciously avoiding engaging in activities that are harmful. In other cases, actively contributing to the betterment of society and/or the environment – for example, participating in reforestation of native species – provides evidence of social responsibility. AEA recognizes that there are opportunities and obstacles to social responsibility when traveling internationally, and encourage all of our groups to consider their responsibilities as travelers and guests in foreign countries. We are happy to arrange collaborative, community-based service learning experiences, facilitate chances for cross-cultural exchange and university partnerships, and create opportunities to learn about the history, culture, and people of the destination, from those who know best: the local people themselves.

Our guides are local to the areas visited and our service projects are created according to the needs of the local communities. In Bali, for example, AEA groups teach in one of our partner villages, at the request of the local schools. Our partner schools in Bali tell us what they need; never the other way around. One AEA group has returned to the same village, university, orphanage, National School for the Deaf, and substance abuse center three years in a row.

Programs like these not only allow the students and faculty to form long-lasting relationships for research and learning, but also give the communities the opportunity to share, learn, and form relationships and trust with the participants. We apply this same community-based service model to many of our other locations – including Ghana, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Guatemala, and Thailand – where faculty have chosen to return with their student groups year after year.

 

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