While Luther and Wartburg may be Iowa Conference rivals, the two schools are proving to be great collaborators in the realm of student learning. For the first time this spring, they partnered to offer four Luther social work students internships through the Wartburg West campus in Denver, Colo. The internships give students an urban experience and exposure to situations that aren’t as common in the rural Midwest.
Seth Warner ’18, who interned at the Saint Francis Center under the direction of Laura (Meixell) Kuhlmann ’07, says, “My internship has included working with the homeless population, and there simply isn’t a large homeless population near Decorah.”
Claire Lutter ’18, who interned at the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office, agrees: “I work with kids who are involved with the justice system and need additional help or resources. This is a population I intend to work with in the future, and an opportunity like this would be near impossible to find in Decorah.”
Bonita (Bohning) Bock ’75 has been director of the Wartburg West program, which was founded in 1985, for the past 27 years. “I know how influential Luther’s Nottingham program was for me, but not everyone can do a whole year abroad,” Bock says, citing financial reasons and the difficulty of completing necessary credits while studying off campus.
In addition to internships, Wartburg West includes curriculum learning, and the similarities between Luther’s and Wartburg’s social work curriculums made for a natural partnership. “There was such an even match between the programs, so you didn’t have to go through layers and layers of figuring out whether this was an equitable exchange,” Bock says. “If we were going to start a relationship with Luther having students in Denver, this was a great place to start.”
In addition to Luther students, Wartburg West receives students from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and nursing students from Allen College in Waterloo, Iowa. “In this higher ed environment,” Bock says, “we really need to look at how we can be more cooperative rather than competitive.”