SPARTANBURG — University of South Carolina Upstate students will soon have the chance to learn first-hand how German officials are handling the influx of refugees into their country.
Plans are in the works to expand a partnership between the University of South Carolina Upstate and Hochschule Landshut, the University of Applied Science in Landshut, Germany, to include an annual exchange of students in the criminal justice and child-advocacy-studies disciplines.
The idea came after some preliminary discussions with visiting instructors from the German university, according to Dr. Samantha Hauptman, chair of the Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Women’s Studies Department, and assistant professor of criminal justice.
“We realized there were a lot of things that we want to do,” Hauptman said recently. “So we said why don’t we bring students into it, and do an exchange program, so that we can work with refugees on their end, and on this end, the students will work with our jail inmates and other community agencies.”
Dr. Lynn McMillan, USC Upstate instructor, child advocacy studies, has teamed up with Hauptman on this end to make the program a reality. The pair will leave May 23 for Hochschule Landshut, where they will meet with their counterparts to hammer out details of the exchange program.
McMillan said she hopes the program will give students from each country an understanding of the social issues the two countries face.
“I want to go to the courts while we’re over there, and visit some community agencies that do some human-services work, as well as the refugee camp and the juvenile detention center (in Landshut) to see the difference in how they treat juveniles in another country,” McMillan explained. “And then when the German students come here, we want to do the reciprocal — prison, (Department of Juvenile Justice), and the family courts, so they can see what happens here.”
Both McMillan and Hauptman stressed the importance to students of seizing the opportunity to study abroad.
“Having the practical experience of providing direct services to refugees is pretty spectacular,” Hauptman said. “But learning about other cultures, broadening (students’) horizons, doing comparative studies and even a bit of language study: Travel provides some of the best educational experiences.”
The exchange program is scheduled to kick off in September, when a group of German students visit USC Upstate. Then, during the 2018 Maymester, a group of USC Upstate students studying criminal justice or child advocacy will visit Landshut for two weeks.
The exchange groups will comprise between 10-15 students from each country, McMillan said.
The University of South Carolina Upstate is a regional, comprehensive university that offers more than 40 bachelor’s degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing, and teacher education, and master’s degrees in education, informatics, and nursing. These are degrees that help students to transition easily to careers in the Upstate region. USC Upstate is committed to fulfilling regional and state workforce needs and thus the university is a major engine of social and economic development. Comprised of a diverse and dynamic community of approximately 6,000 students from 26 states and 17 countries, USC Upstate is a wonderful blend of traditional and nontraditional students who reflect the Upstate’s rich international character. USC Upstate offers a balance of strengths that, when added up, results in a learning experience that’s hard to match. The academic programs are accredited and highly ranked, with amazing research and internship opportunities for students. USC Upstate has its main campus in Spartanburg, the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics and the UPSTATE Gallery on Main in downtown Spartanburg, two locations in Greenville, and a growing number of programs online. The USC Upstate Spartans, which fields 17 varsity sports, compete on the NCAA Division I level as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Nearly 30,000 alumni have earned degrees from USC Upstate and approximately 85 percent choose to remain in the Upstate region to build their lives and careers, making a significant impact of the region’s economy and quality of life. Learn more at www.uscupstate.edu.