I spent the month of May studying abroad in Kenya! I chose to study in Kenya because it has always been on my bucket list to go to Africa. I thought the best way to learn about African culture would be through immersion. There is a difference between traveling to a country for vacation and living there for four weeks. I was able to fully immerse myself into a community rather than just being a tourist. While there, we studied social entrepreneurship through an empowerment program called Care for AIDS. This is a nonprofit organization that helps fight against the stigma associated with being HIV positive. The program teaches individuals that have HIV/AIDS how to become entrepreneurs and be self-sufficient. We were put into groups of three and each group was paired with an entrepreneur. We used a process known as design thinking in order to help the entrepreneurs improve their businesses.
We also dealt with questions like “What is authentic Africa?” and “How can we end the stereotypes the world has about Africa?” Many humanitarian and religious groups travel to Africa to “teach” Africans how to live and think it’s a place they can “save”. However, what I’ve learned through studying abroad is the world has many things to learn from countries like Kenya. Africa has so much to teach us. We just have to open our ears and be willing to listen instead of thinking our culture or our way is the best.
Studying abroad has made me much more aware of my own cultural biases. One of my favorite parts of the trip was going on a safari. I was ten feet away from wild lions! We went to the Maasai Mara which is connected to the Serengeti. It was awesome to be able to observe these beautiful animals in their natural habitat instead of viewing them in a cage. If you ever get the chance to study abroad, go! It was definitely a life changing experience.
Katelyn Thompson is majoring in Nursing. She participated in a faculty-led trip to Kenya through the College of Business and Honors College in May, 2018. Katelyn had the following to say about her study abroad experience, “Immerse yourself in another’s culture rather than being a spectator. Studying abroad is a much more life-changing experience than tourism.”
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