208880 Building Bridges: A community engagement initiative linking university students to culture, identity and HIV in a Zulu context

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

DeWitt Webster, PhD , Dept. of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Garey Davis , Multicultural Research and Resource Center, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
The Building Bridges Program is an international/multicultural education program housed in the Multicultural Research and Resource Center (MRRC) at George Mason University (GMU). The program provides students, staff, and faculty with opportunities to engage in a field experience relative to community outreach and cultural exchange in a university life context. One graduate and two undergraduate students accompanied the Building Bridges Program Director and a member of the GMU faculty on the pilot program to the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa in the summer of 2008. The students' experiences included an academic component focused on global health, culture, identity and HIV/AIDS in a South African context and a community engagement component centered on youth, gender and culture in urban and rural areas of the Kwazulu Natal Province. The academic and community engagement components of the were complementary in that students could link course readings and discussions into their daily lived experiences such as helping boys in a local orphanage with homework, assisting residents in a holistic HIV/AIDS hospice, or sharing in meal preparation and clean up with a Zulu family in a rural community. The GMU students also collaborated with UKZN students several projects. The program facilitators documented feedback from program participants throughout the experience to guide the design and implementation of a course in GMU's Center for Field Studies. The established course on cultural, identity and community engagement will take 10 undergraduate and graduate students to UKZN in the summer of 2009.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this session participants will be able to: Describe a community engagement program involving a joint effort between a US-based university and a South Africa-based university Discuss ways to merge a curriculum addressing culture and identity with lived experiences of students participating and a field studies community engagement program. Apply strategies to identify and engage key stakeholders in organizing and sustaining a community engagement and cross cultural collaboration between universities on two different continents.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. J. DeWitt Webster is Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University where he teaches courses in Community health, health behavior/health education, and international health. His research addresses culture and identity in the context of health behavior; program planning, implementation, and evaluation; and health promotion initiatives through community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches. He has collaborated with UNAIDS, USAID, WHO, CDC , international foundations, federal and state ministries of health and NGOs on efforts around HIV/AIDS prevention and care, maternal and child health, and cancer prevention in Nigeria, South Africa and the United States. Dr. Webster earned his PhD in Biobehavioral Health from the Pennsylvania State University and his MPH in Community Health Education from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. He also completed post doctoral training in CBPR at the University of Michigan School of Public Health through the W.K. Kellogg Community Health Scholar Program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.