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Overnight Stay at Heifer Ranch Provides First-Hand Experience for Research Presentations


A-State Honors World Literature Class at Heifer Ranch

A-State Honors World Literature Class at Heifer Ranch

JONESBORO – An overnight stay at Heifer Ranch in Perryville has provided members of an honors class from Arkansas State University with a new perspective on the challenges of overcoming hunger and poverty.

They will share those insights next week in the form of research presentations during Create@stAte, the annual symposium of research, scholarship and creativity for ASU students.

Create@stAte will be held Thursday, April 11, in several rooms of the Carl R. Reng Student Union. Sessions are scheduled beginning at 9 a.m., and the day concludes with an awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m. A catalog listing the numerous entries from across campus will be distributed.

The Honors class in world literature, from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, explored the effects of global poverty through Heifer International's Global Gateway program with guidance from the course instructor, Dr. Kate Krueger, assistant professor of English, and Rebecca Oliver, director of the Honors College.

During their stay at the ranch, which includes a farm with gardens and animals, the students learned about several communities around the world that Heifer serves, including their culture, challenges and ways of life, Dr. Krueger explained.

“We spent a night bartering for and preparing food like rice and vegetables over a fire and sleeping in shelters common in those communities––from Appalachian cabins, to Thai bamboo houses, to shacks in urban slums that one might find in Haiti,” she continued. “The students quickly grasped that the best way of making it through the night and having enough to eat was to share resources and to work together as a community.”

The professor also said the experience attempts to put students in the shoes of people around the world who are suffering from poverty, even as it becomes clear there are ways we can act to address this issue.

Ashley Tosch of Sherwood, a freshman majoring in secondary English education, came away with a very positive reaction to the overnight project.

“This was one of the most meaningful experiences I have had as an Honors student. Many of us would like to say we can imagine how other cultural groups live their lives, but very few of us can actually say we can relate to them,” she noted. “Being able to drop all notions of how we believe something to be, and having the opportunity to actually experience a day in the lives of those who are different, is a beautiful experience.”

She was especially struck by how the project caused her to change many of her assumptions.

“Things we take for granted every day are some of the very things that others would love to have, even just for a day. This course is not set up just to make one aware of poverty and the hardships around the world; it is designed to help one become a knowledgeable world citizen.”

Jordan Campbell, a freshman from Sheridan, also appreciated the broader purpose of the course.

“As Honors students, we need to be able to use our skills to help benefit as many people as we can. This trip was a great way for each of us to get a taste of how using our skills to help others can feel,” she said. “Most everyone on the trip was surprised that we pooled our resources and helped each other with each task so willingly. I would most definitely recommend this course. Not only are we reading and learning about literature, but we are discussing it in such a way that it's easy to see how each text reflects on one’s morals and how one lives.”

The literature students are now working in the same groups they were assigned at the ranch to develop their research presentations on each community Heifer International serves, including those in Guatemala and Tibet. They will present the results of their experiences during Create@stAte.

“Anytime we can get students out of the traditional classroom setting and out of their comfort zone, they have the potential for intellectual growth and self-examination,” Oliver commented. “Educating global citizens who are fully prepared to contribute their knowledge and skills to the wider world is part of our mission in Honors. This trip was challenging, fun and a bonding experience for the students, Dr. Krueger and myself.”

Heifer International offers the global education experience and introduction to its sustainable solutions at its Learning Center at Heifer Ranch, located about 45 miles northwest of Little Rock. Each program helps participants understand that one person can make a difference in ending hunger and poverty.

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Honors class works on project at Heifer Ranch.
Honors class works together on project at Heifer Ranch.