Favorite Study Abroad Memories – Rwanda and Tanzania (Post 3 in a series of 3)

While my last post focused on the difficulty of choosing a favorite memory (or short list of memories) from spending 5 and a half months abroad, I surprisingly have found myself also facing issues choosing a favorite memory from the Rwanda and Tanzania trip I developed and led for William Penn University this past March.

The Rwanda and Tanzania student trip was one that I worked on almost every day starting back in late September. Ranging from tasks such as advertisements of the trip to creating a class for the participants – there were definitely many ups and downs. To highlight the trip experiences, I have decided to share two memories – one from Rwanda and one from Tanzania.

The Rwanda portion was the emphasis of this trip – which served as William Penn University’s first study abroad program. For me, it was an enjoyable experience, as I found some foods similar to what I had gotten used to in South Africa. Of all of the experiences we had there, my favorite was of meeting the Student Government Association at INATEK in Kibungo.

The meeting between our student delegation and the student government leaders was awkward at the beginning – as the students at INATEK had become accustomed to speaking with non-native English speakers in their classroom settings. However, as I spoke more with the girl sitting next to me, and the boy sitting past her, I gained a better connection as a fellow student. We passed notes and shared small jokes and moments of understanding through talking about the difficulties of being a college student while trying to explore yourself as a person. I think that brief meeting encouraged the students of William Penn University to become more active in exploring avenues of student exchanges between William Penn University and INATEK.

My favorite memory from Tanzania was not a planned activity or outing – although I did enjoy the safari portion very much. Rather, it was during the last night on the trip and I was sitting at a table with my fellow student participants. Out of nowhere, I was given a card with laughing zebras on the cover and heartfelt messages from Robin, Roy, Matt, Linda, Melisa, and India – expressing their thanks for my hard work during the previous months and days. Even while I was able to finally get some souvenirs that I had been wanting to get for a few years, since my last trip to Africa, this card is one that I will cherish. Additionally, all the talks during the trip and the time around it which have shown the effect I have had on encouraging others to learn about other cultures and countries.

You gain different experiences and perspectives participating on a trip as a coordinator rather than an individual person there just to have fun. There is more stress and moments of worry – but there are also greater benefits from the trip, as you see how others have grown because of your work. I think that is what I gained most from the trip – although, I will always have the photos and my journal to remind me of the memories and day-to-day difficulties and moments of enjoyment that I had.