Increased life expectancy and a low birth rate are accelerating a demographic shift in China. Many young people are leaving rural areas and moving to urban centers, while others are migrating out of the country to study or pursue careers. These changes are pushing China into an aging “boom” that is challenging smaller numbers of family members to provide care for an increasing number of older adults. In addition to family responses to the need for elder care, societal responses are emerging with regard to public care for older adults, as well as care solutions related to children. This international project sought to contribute to the development of insightful alternatives for families who are challenged to provide care for older adults and children, and are seeking high quality care situations through public avenues. To that end, a group of students were invited to engage in an interdisciplinary, immersive service-learning project to address these societal needs, which involved the design of a combined nursing home, adult day program, and child day care center to be located in Beijing. Students were able to: 1) participate in an interdisciplinary student project between interior designers from the U.S. and architectural students from Beijing that addressed the universal design needs of children and older adults, 2) immerse themselves in another culture while fostering a fresh model of civic engagement, 3) design using new cultural norms combined with historic elements such as Feng Shui and sustainability principles, and 4) see the impact of social and political/government policy on modern building practices. These outcomes were compared with the diverse experiences received by other XXX students throughout their university service-learning experiences to determine the impact on their education and their desire to participate in future service-learning activities. Before research was conducted, it was hypothesized that at least 75% of students who had completed a service-learning project would agree that they learned information that pertained to their academic goals, and at least 75% of those same students would agree that they would complete another project in the future. Both hypotheses were supported in the smaller group who studied abroad in China, and by the at-large university participants.
|Publisher||Partnerships: A Journal of Service-Learning & Civic Engagement|
|State||Accepted/In press - 2012|