What is SST?

Goshen College may be a small liberal arts school in northern Indiana, but its students, faculty and staff have footprints all over the world.

Study-Service Term (SST) is a semester-long program rooted in cultural immersion, service and community. Unlike most study abroad programs, students stay with host families in developing countries with the singular aim to experience day-to-day life in the most authentic way possible.

The seed for SST was planted in 1967 with trial units to Haiti and Barbados, and a pilot program with Bluffton University to Columbia. The program officially kicked off in 1968 with programs in Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Honduras and Jamaica. Nicaragua and Haiti added units in 1969. Since the program began 50 years ago, more than 7,700 students have lived in 24 countries across the globe. It’s now the #4 best study abroad program in the country.


Percentage of campus that studies abroad

Whether you study nursing or history, the option for international education is built into your degree. Most students at GC end up studying abroad, and if they don’t, domestic alternatives must be met.

Groups have gone to countries such as China, Peru, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Senegal, Tanzania, Cambodia, Haiti, El Salvador and South Korea, to name a few.

Photo credit: Goshen College


How It Works

You’re in for thirteen weeks of change. The first half of the journey is study of language and culture in the country’s capital with a group of 10-20 other Goshen College students, and two group leaders, who are almost always professors from the college and their spouses. (Since 1968 more than 230 faculty leaders have filled this role as mentor; 16 returned to the same area more than once, and 29 have led in multiple locations.)

For the final six weeks, students fling across the country to remote areas, often solo or in pairs, for service assignments – in clinics, schools and orphanages, with GNOs, on farms. Throughout, you live with host families who help to make the country home.

SSTers experience a changed worldview and increased interest in reflective thought, more interest in the welfare of others, and the development of autonomy, self-confidence, self-esteem and independence, found Norman Kauffmann, who studied the effects of SST for his dissertation in the 1980s.



SST was the one of the most important experiences of my life

In a survey conducted in 2006, this number of students from 1968-2006 agreed that SST was a powerful experience that affected life as they knew it. The same number have traveled outside the U.S. since SST.



Apart from all the facts and figures, SST is meaningful relationships built across lines of culture; a chance to see the needs of the world; a push beyond comfort zones; an opportunity to accept great kindness; an understanding that there is so much more out there than what is familiar.

To find out more about the SST program, visit Goshen College’s SST website.