William Okrafo-Smart

CIEE Internship Abroad: iKhaya Le Langa
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William Okrafo-Smart

Liberal Arts Major(s): Global and International Studies, Psychology
Minor: Economics, Sociology
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

The entire international internship experience had profound impacts on me both inside and outside the internship. For the actual internship, the Youth Enterprise Program was the biggest project I worked on. For this project, I had to design, implement, and facilitate a five-week series of workshops aimed at introducing youth of Langa to the foundational aspects of entrepreneurship. The goal was to have the students set up informal business to make their community cleaner, greener, and safer in attempt to begin to reverse the lasting effects of apartheid in their township. Outside of my internship, I met a lot of amazing individuals who became great friends of mine. They challenged my ways of thinking and contributed to my personal development. My words will never be able to aptly describe my experience.

My liberal arts framework guided me in designing the workshops to focus on humanistic as well as entrepreneurial development in my students

How did this experience impact you academically?

In this society, a liberal arts education is not valued as it should be—it is often downplayed and sometimes seen as irrelevant. However, this experience pushed me to extend my classroom education into the real world. My employer was excited to see that I majored in Psychology and Global and International Studies with a Wealth and Inequality concentration. He told me that my areas of study were perfect for understanding and unpacking the intergenerational trauma that haunted the community as well as being able to understand the economic aspects of poverty. My liberal arts framework guided me in designing the workshops to focus on humanistic as well as entrepreneurial development in my students. The critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal skills I developed allowed me to teach my workshop despite the cultural and language barriers, in addition to the challenges that come with teaching teenage boys! In short, this experience pushed me to work on a meaningful project.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

To be frank, I’m not exactly sure what I would want to do after I complete my undergraduate studies at Penn State. I went into this internship curious about the field of social entrepreneurship and community development. This internship has taught me what it takes to be a social entrepreneur and what it means to work with a community in need firsthand. This experience has empowered me and fueled my passion to work in a position of social change for my long-term goals. I have considered becoming a social entrepreneur, a professor, or getting involved with policy work. After graduation, I hope to continue my education by attempting to tackle real-world problems by working with a non-profit organization.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

One of the requirements of the Paterno Fellows program is to get an internship or to study abroad in order to enhance our learning experience. Given that this was one of the requirements, I was determined to complete it because I was enchanted by any challenge to enhance my education. Thus, the Paterno Fellows Program helped fuel my desire to obtain this internship experience. In addition to helping fuel my motivation, the program, along with the College of the Liberal Arts, provided me with much-needed funding to make this internship experience possible!

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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