Words cannot fully describe…
The journey of William Penn University’s first study abroad trip offered by the school has been one full of chaotic moments, sleepless nights, good conversations, amazing photos, and new friends as trip coordinator.
Prior to this experience, I had participated in a sister-city exchange program as a high school student to Japan and spent five and a half months studying as an undergraduate in South Africa. I had never been the organizer, facing the difficulties of finding lodging around the world. I had never had to make major travel arrangements for a group in a country I had never been to previously. I had never had to constantly count people, ensuring that all of the trip participants were accounted for – ensuring that no one was lost or left behind. I had not faced the responsibility as trip coordinator to ensure the happiness of trip participants or the challenges in solving issues as they come up (with one being the big threat of a temporarily lost passport).
However, I also had never been fully responsible for the change in someone’s intercultural interest and knowledge. My previous experiences had been assisting those who already decided they wanted to travel and may have needed some further trip and cultural information to feel fully prepared. I had never had the privilege of knowing I had changed people’s lives – who didn’t even realize beforehand how much potential there was.
For that, I would like to publicly thank everyone who has helped me in the past six months preparing for the 11-day trip to Rwanda and Tanzania. Theophile will always be a great connection for me – and for anyone who intends to travel to Rwanda. Roy’s Safaris helped assist with everything when in Tanzania, allowing me to step back and enjoy the trip rather than stress about various aspects. Most importantly, I want to thank the students who participated on the trip. Without your interest, the trip would never have happened. Without your continuation, as I know a few questioned that in the early stages, the group would have faltered. Without your words of sincere thanks and gratitude, I know that this experience would not have been the same for me in the role of Trip Coordinator for Rwanda and Tanzania 2012 as the Graduate Assistant for International Programs at William Penn University.