A student poses with a boy in Africa.
A student poses with a boy in Africa.

Longwood University sophomores Kelsey Resnick 26’, Nora Shank 26’, and Tyra McCowin 25’ are Therapeutic Recreation majors who participated in faculty-led study abroad programs over the summer of 2023. Kelsey and Nora studied global health and wellness in Ireland through a nursing lens, while Tyra studied globalization, cultural heritage and social justice in Ghana as part of a social work course. While, in both cases, the courses the students were taking satisfied one of their civitae requirements, they also found opportunities to educate, advocate, and apply what they have learned from their therapeutic recreation classes as well.

Tyra had the opportunity to participate in service-learning projects, lead games at a local school, and talk about mental health with patients at a hospital. She recalled, “It was amazing because I got to bring TR to Africa and teach them the passion that I have for TR and teach them what TR is in a nutshell.” Tyra also gained new perspective on cultures by learning what leisure looks like in Ghana. She explained, “a lot of people don’t really necessarily have the resources we do…but realizing leisure can happen anywhere at any time.”

Advocacy was a theme that was particularly evident in Ireland. Nora stated, “I think advocacy is a big thing for the field and trying as much as possible to educate so that people will want to change and add programs to whatever facility they're at, because they recognize the benefit, but they just don't have it”. Kelsey affirmed this, stating, “There was one day when we went to Mental Health Ireland, and we got to talk to someone about TR. . . he said he had heard of it, but he had never heard of anyone there doing it. . . and he was talking about how beneficial he thinks it would be if they started using it more there.” Nora found that even though they traveled to a place that was relatively unfamiliar with TR, “it was still valuable because we learned about the health care system in general and because CTRS’ work with nurses; I think it's important to understand their role. . . and we were able to educate our [nursing] class on TR...”

All three students highly recommended studying abroad. They were already planning their next study abroad trip. As Tyra remarked, “Longwood really focuses on generating students who contribute to the common good of the society, and studying abroad is a huge contributor to that, as well as shaping you, and you learn and grow in so many ways.” The Longwood University Therapeutic Recreation Program continues to develop, prepare, and enable citizen leaders to recognize and embrace the challenges and needs of others both in our communities and globally.  

Two TR students pose at a cliff in IrelandTwo students take a selfie at the coast in Ireland.