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Schreyer Service-Learning Trip to Kenya and Tanzania
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Eliza Mull

Liberal Arts Major(s): International Politics, Latin American Studies
Minor: German
Hometown: Ephrata, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

I loved the mutual exchange of cultures that occurred between Penn State students and the students at SEGA and Hekima Place, the two girls' homes that we visited. Each side was so curious to learn about the other, and I loved building personal connections with the girls. It was a humbling honor to witness the messages of female empowerment and the importance of education being played out at these locations, and I have full confidence that these girls will change their society and world for the better.

How did this experience impact you academically?

As an International Politics major, I'm fascinated by the interactions between cultures and countries, and I loved learning about these African societies. I was especially interested in our discussions of tribalism, corruption, and other factors that may be preventing development in these countries, and I was able to apply information that I had learned in my courses at Penn State, such as the natural resources course and studies associating religion and terrorism.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

I engaged in many fascinating discussions about the dangers of "voluntourism" and the white savior complex with the director of Hekima Place, and she taught me a great deal about the differences between good, successful, sustainable development and detrimental foreign aid practices. I will certainly consider these ideas carefully when I travel or examine foreign policy. I was very inspired by her life story and the fresh changes she is bringing to Hekima Place.

Without the generous financial support from the College of the Liberal Arts, I never would have been able to partake in this life-changing opportunity...

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

Without the generous financial support from the College of the Liberal Arts, I never would have been able to partake in this life-changing opportunity, so I could not be more grateful to the generous alumni and donors who made this experience possible. Additionally, I referenced ideas that I learned in the various Lunch with Honors series during my time in Africa; for example, I remembered how the speaker from Benin criticized the intrusion of Western culture in his country, so I asked Kenyan and Tanzanian citizens if they could relate to these sentiments. Paterno Fellows prepared me to be inquisitive and analytical about other cultures and lifestyles.

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