Winter Term in Service
Celebrating 40 Years!
Service. Reflection. Immersion. Education.
Founded in 1973, Winter Term in Service (WTIS) is one of DePauw’s oldest and most popular service-based programs. During the January Winter Term, faculty leaders partner with locally identified initiatives around the world to invite DePauw students to engage in service-learning. WTIS teams immerse themselves in the culture of their host communities, working alongside local people to provide much needed construction projects, medical clinics, public health education, and many other important services for people in their host community. This service project is the vehicle for hands-on learning, which is further intensified through critical reflection.
The mission of the Winter Term in Service Program is to provide DePauw students, faculty members, alumni, and participating professionals an opportunity to collaborate on a locally identified work project in a domestic or international setting. Through the project we intend to challenge participants in an environment of shared learning. Our aim is exposure to relevant social and political issues, engagement in critical reflection of our values and experiences, and increased understanding of diverse communities’ interconnectedness. These goals are at the heart of what we mean by service. (Adopted Spring 2003)
Students who have participated in the Winter Term in Service program often describe their WTIS experience as the most profound event of their college years. The WTIS program is designed to challenge students to experience:
- a heightened sense of cultural diversity,
- a better understanding of who they are and what they believe,
- perspective on how they as individuals can move from awareness to action,
- an understanding of the interconnectedness of people not only across the globe but also within their own communities, and
- a greater awareness of the systematic inequalities that exist in our world.
They will also learn to work and live peacefully with a large diverse group of individuals, develop leaderships skills which can be used throughout life, develop a heightened sense of the importance of service, and the importance of cooperation and teamwork.
Over the fall semester, during January, and after students return, we ask them to be conscious of the four pillars of the program in order to gain a better understanding and critically reflect on their experience. The four components are:
Service: Through the service project done on site, students gain an understanding of the needs of others and can critically think about their own needs and wants to gain a better understanding of their own world.
“The greatest part of these trips is the chance to not only go to a place you have never been but also the opportunity to serve others and learn about that culture. The program offers a different perspective on service where we work collaboratively with the members of the community, creating lasting relationships while we serve.” ~WTIS Participant, 2004
Reflection: Participants are encouraged to reflect on how their views of the world may be affected by what they are reading, discussing, and doing. We believe strongly that it is not only practice, but also thought that gives service its real meaning.
“Reflection forces you to step back and look at all the things you are learning on the trip and really analyze the experiences you are having instead of just going through the motions. It helps give you a better understanding not only of the need for your service but also the situations that made this service necessary and the potential consequences, both positive and negative, of your service.” ~WTIS participant, 2000
Immersion: Living in the community in which you are serving gives students the opportunity to socialize and build relationships with the local people. Participants don’t just see another culture; they become a part of it.
“We were thrown into an environment where there was not a McDonalds in the entire country…there was nothing we could perceive as normal and it was the most rewarding experience of my life.” ~WTIS participant, 2000.
Education: Until we understand another culture, we cannot fully understand our own. WTIS participants are encouraged to think about the value systems and responsibilities that shape our world and how they affect our own culture.
“I found that I had more influence on students in this one month than I have in a semester, indeed in two or three semesters. I think that the changes I observed in my students are so tremendous that it just overwhelms any other educational experiences we have.” ~Bernie Batto, DePauw Professor Emeritus