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TRIO Student Reflections from Abroad: Erika

This is an excerpt from a student’s reflection written for Augsburg TRIO’s spring 2019 newsletter. Please see the newsletter for the original post in full. Thank you to Erika and TRIO for sharing with CGEE!

1.) Where did you study abroad? Why did you choose this location and/or program? How did you hear about the program?

I studied abroad in Southern Africa and had the honor of visiting South Africa and Namibia. I chose to study abroad through the Nation-Building, Globalization, and Decolonizing the Mind in Southern Africa program because of my interest in politics. I heard about this program through the Center for Global Education & Experience and the MSS office.

2.) What did you learn from this experience?

Of the many things that I learned during my four-months abroad, I would like to highlight learning about the political development in Southern Africa.  For my integrative project, I researched the poor governance in Namibia, and learned that the social, economic, and sustainability issues in Namibia stems from the abuse of power in the government. The research I conducted helped me better understand how government, politics, and law should work with the community in order to better create a fair society for all.

 

3.) Were there any challenges you encountered and how did you handle it?

One difficult challenge to grasp from my experience abroad was the issue of racism.  Due to my lighter complexion, many local individuals considered me as a white person because of their past history of the liberation struggle from the Apartheid System. Another challenge I encountered was the language barrier. Namibia has 26 different languages and the program prepared me for the basic of one dominant language, Oshiwambo; which was not enough to maneuver around places. The racism I faced was not a threat, it was actually a privilege, but an uncomfortable experience. I handled these encounters by explaining myself and informing others why it is problematic to generalize. Lastly, for the language barrier, I created flashcards through Quizlet and practiced Oshiwambo with friends or my co-workers at my internship site.