Office of International Programs


China: Contributing to the Welfare of Orphans

June 30 - July 20, 2014 (Tentative)

SBS 470 (6 credits) or OTH 670 (4 credits)

This international service learning course will provide students the opportunity to study, experience and contribute to the welfare of children in another culture. Through a combination of classroom and experiential learning, the course promotes understanding of the social circumstances and the developmental challenges faced by orphaned children in China. Students will engage in a service project in collaboration with a program that provides education and enrichment to children in an orphanage. The goals of the course are to provide students an opportunity to develop inter-cultural understanding, to deepen their comprehension of children’s developmental needs, and to examine international adoption practices. Classroom and orientation sessions prior to departure and a debriefing session after return are required.

This course is designed with Lewiston-Auburn College’s SBS students (particularly those pursuing a minor in Early Childhood studies), Masters in Occupational Therapy & MOT jump start students in mind. It is also open to other USM students as well as other community members. The course will require students to complete a set of readings and participate in class discussions prior to travel to China. The class will be together in China for 16 days, during which time we will complete 10 days of service learning at two orphanages, New Day Creations in outer Beijing and Dream Home in Shenyang. The remaining time will be spent visiting Beijing, the Great Wall, and spending two nights in a traditional Chinese village. Students will also be required to keep a reflective journal of their experiences, and to report back to the LAC community in the fall.

The Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal wrote a series of articles on our program and posted pictures and videos on their site:

Class Meetings and Itinerary

The class will meet beforehand at Lewiston-Auburn College; exact dates and times to be determined. Many of the day-to-day details in China will not be finalized until closer to departure, but a tentative outline of the daily itinerary is as follows:

Tentative Itinerary

Friday: Leave Portland

Saturday: Arrive Beijing, transfer to New Day Foster Home

Monday-Friday: Volunteer at New Day Foster Home, and on Friday afternoon return to Beijing. Enjoy a Peking duck dinner and acrobatics show

Saturday: Visit Panjiayuan weekend market, enjoy Dumpling lunch, visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, have a hot pot dinner

Sunday: Jinshanling Great Wall Hiking, visit the Olympic Green (outside view)

Monday: Visit the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and take an evening train to Shenyang.  

Monday-Friday: Volunteer at the Shenyang Social Welfare Institute. On Friday, take an evening train to Beijing.

Saturday and Sunday: Visit Ming Village. Return to Beijing on Sunday night.

Monday: Depart for Portland


Deb Como-Kepler, Psy.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in psychotherapy with families and adolescents. A clinical supervisor in the Lewiston area, she has particular interest and training in attachment theory and therapy. Dr. Como‑Kepler is also a part‑time instructor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program of Lewiston‑Auburn College.

Dr. Julie Alexandrin, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Abilities and Disabilities Studies, came to USM in 2007 to create a professional program for educators who work with youth who are gifted and talented and/or have disabilities. This work resulted in the Abilities and Disabilities Studies program, created in 2008, with concentrations in gifted and talented, special education and Teaching ALL Students, with an emphasis in Universal Design and working with students with a disability who are gifted and talented, and/or who are English Language Learners.


The application deadline is March 17, 2014. The deadline for the first $100 deposit (applied to the program cost) is February 14, 2014.

A complete application includes all of the following:

  • Signed, completed application form*
  • Second $100 non-refundable deposit (applied to the program cost)
  • Typed 200-word essay
  • A letter of recommendation from a faculty member or academic advisor
  • Official copies of all academic transcripts

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. You will be notified by e-mail of your application status. If your application is not accepted, the nonrefundable deposit will be returned. If the program is canceled for any reason by the USM, all deposits will be returned.

*If you are having trouble downloading the application, please contact us at (207) 780-4959 or and we will send you one. You may also want to try upgrading to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.


The estimated program fee is $3700. The cost of tuition and fees at the in-state rate is in addition to the program fee. The program fee includes accommodation, roundtrip airfare from Boston, ground transportation including train travel, site visits, field trips, breakfast each day, and comprehensive medical insurance through iNext.

Not included in the program fee is the cost of tuition, fees, some meals, books, academic supplies, or other personal expenses. Six credits of tuition plus regular university fees is $1,721. All participants on USM travel courses receive the in-state tuition rate regardless of residency.

All participants will be automatically registered for a payment plan. The two $100 deposits will go towards the cost of the program and the remaining balance will be due as follows:

50% of the balance due April 5, 2014

Remaining balance due May 5, 2014

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Federal financial aid and loans are available to matriculated students who participate in travel courses. In order to receive the benefit of financial aid, students must be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits during the summer for a summer travel course. If financial aid does not cover the full cost of the program, students are responsible for paying the remaining balance according to the payment plan schedule.

Include the costs of this course in your FAFSA application. If you have questions about financial aid or completing your FAFSA, please contact the financial aid office at (207) 780-4166. If you are not a matriculated student at USM, please check with the financial aid office at your institution.

USM's Office of International Programs offers small scholarships for students enrolled in summer travel courses. Scholarships are competitive and awards are up to $500. The application deadline is March 17, 2013. Students applying for the International Summer Scholarship must apply to a travel course before or at the same time as submitting a scholarship application.