Hello everyone! My name is Chelsea Beyrand, and I am the newest International Resident Advisor (Intern) in Windhoek, Namibia. I arrived about two weeks ago and have been slowly learning my way around Windhoek and the Center. I am excited to learn about the history and cultures of Southern Africa and help guide ten incoming students through their semester abroad with the Center for Global Education (CGE).
I graduated from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts this past spring with a dual-degree in Human Development and Theology (focus: Islamic Studies and Social Justice) and a minor in Special Education. Throughout my college career I worked with the Boston College Campus School which is a school on the Boston College campus for students ages 3-21 with severe and/or multiple disabilities and complex health care needs. I volunteered in various capacities throughout my four years and was co-president of the organization my senior year. I also began working at the school my junior year.
My sophomore year of college, I travelled to the Dominican Republic to serve at Hogar Immauel, with ten other Boston College students. Hogar Immanuel is an orphanage for children with disabilities run through the Mustard Seed Communities. While in country, I also spent time at a nearby Haitian village learning about the vast inequality that existed within the country and the stigma of being a Haitian within the Dominican Republic. I led the trip my senior year in order to expose other Boston College students to the realities that exist within the Dominican Republic and to return to the children who changed my life.
My junior year, I spent a semester studying at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. I took classes in African history and learned about the challenges that the continent faces today and how colonialism still exists today in the form of foreign aid and development. While in South Africa, I served at an AIDS clinic in the township outside of Grahamstown, and worked closely with the staff on developing an outreach program to educate elementary school students about HIV and AIDS.
When I began to consider my post-graduation plans, I realized that working with university students had become something that I had become passionate about. I believe that university students are at a very unique time in their lives in regards to identity formation and questioning who they are. CGE’s commitment to experiential learning fosters an environment where classroom learning is met with real life experiences that lead to a personal connection and reflection of the topic. Students gain a much deeper and holistic understanding of their experience, which is something that will stay with them for a very long time. I believe that you never truly stop learning and I am excited to continue my journey learning about Southern Africa and social justice, while also guiding the students in their quest for understanding.
I am excited to draw upon my experience with leading two service organizations and my time in South Africa to foster cross-cultural understanding and dialogue. I look forward to working with the students to create a living and learning environment that focuses on listening to understand, questioning with compassion, and learning to promote social justice, equality, and kindness. I want to challenge the students to not only learn new information and ways of thinking, but to also rethink their way of life back home.
In addition, I will be working with the religious studies instructor to help explore the role of religion in Namibian history. I look forward to continuing my study of religion from my undergraduate studies and hope to contribute some of the knowledge I have learned from various courses and experiential learning opportunities that I have had.
During my summers, I am a health care staff at a summer camp for children and adults with disabilities. In my spare time I enjoy travelling, listening to music, reading, learning more about the world around me, and having quality conversations with friends new and old.
I am looking into various programs to eventually become a nurse practitioner focusing in forensic nursing, community health, or HIV/AIDS, or an occupational therapist working with children with low incidence disabilities.