St. Andrew’s Society for Service Around the World (SASSAW) evolved out of the St. Andrew’s Society for Service in Nepal (SASSIN), which ran between the years of 1992 and 2000 and sent five groups of students and faculty to the remote mountain regions of Nepal. The stated objective of these trips was to give students an opportunity to do community service on a global scale. Anyone who was involved in a SASSIN trip understood that the collateral benefits of such an experience far outweigh their own small efforts. Students and faculty who were part of the SASSIN trips invariably came back with a wealth of experiences, an appreciation for life in a vastly different culture, and a new-found perspective on the meaning of service.
What evolved out of such noble beginnings was a continued desire among the students to venture outside their comfort zones, by fundraising throughout the academic year, and offering service and financial assistance to people in safer, yet similarly needy, parts of the world.
The SASSAW trips take place over three weeks of the summer and in the past have included the following destinations: South Africa, Peru, Thailand, Kenya, Ecuador, Malawi, Namibia, Brazil, Kenya, India, Chile, Costa Rica, and Fiji. Students fundraise all year to raise enough money to support the service project they will be working on. Each trip averages between 15 and 30 students and involves a service project, a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition, and a cultural tourism component.
A few years ago, SASSAW transitioned once again. SASSAW is no longer a stand-alone trip, but engages students in an academic course, registration, and work toward their direct-entry Duke Of Edinburgh Gold Award, as well as pre-trip in the fall, along with the formal trip in August.
The students in this program have a hands-on role in planning and preparing for the trip, and have the primary responsibility for the logistics and details of the experience once they arrive at their destination, making the experience student-directed and led.
International service projects allow our students to witness the difficult circumstances many people in this world must live in on a daily basis. It helps young Andreans gain a greater appreciation for the advantages they have, and promotes the self-discovery process necessary for the testing, shaping, and building of values and character. If they can develop a greater understanding of the need for equity in our world, perhaps someday, when in the position to do so, they may be motivated to take action toward the achievement of a more just society.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
The Gold Level Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions that are part of each SASSAW program allows our students the chance to engage in physical challenges and thereby helps to cultivate in them a spirit of adventure and discovery. They provide opportunities for students to explore nature and, in the process, to learn more about the world around them, and to better connect with that world. The chance to work together as a team with a common purpose also helps students learn more about themselves.
In cultural tourism, both the host and the guest carry with them their awareness of identity and from the interaction between the two, something new can emerge. It can help both sides renew bonds with their roots, as well as spark curiosity about what has been lost in their respective cultures. For the host, the opportunity to earn a living from cultural tourism can give incentives for local training and education. It can promote the improvement of local skills, traditions, and arts and crafts, which can be of mutual benefit to the population, the tourists, and the government. For the guests, our students, it can provide an invaluable opportunity to start to learn the story of the local people and gain some understanding of the significance of the local experience.