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Study Abroad in Sri Lanka with Malini Fellowship
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Jule Walsh

Jule Walsh

Paterno Fellow
Majors: History, Anthropology, Political Science
Hometown:  Canadensis, Pa

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I saw an initial posting on the Schreyer Honors College Listserv about the program. I then went to an informational program being held by one of the foundation interns about the experience. After getting all my questions and concerns answered, I knew I wanted to go.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The first day we spent touring the historical city of Galle and learning the history of the country. The following day we were briefed on the workshop we would be participating in with this program, which was based around the story "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". We ended up in a rural town, where there was a school created in order to have Senegalese and Tamil (the two ethnic groups in the country) children learn together, in hopes of ending the hatred between the two groups. Later during the trip, we participated in this workshop again, only in an orphanage in Kandy. During the rest of the trip, we traveled to many different cultural landmarks. This included The Temple of the Tooth, a Buddhist temple, an elephant orphanage, and a tea plantation.

How did this experience impact you academically?

During the course of the trip, between workshops and landmarks, we discussed the various problems with the non-profit organization and the different ways people are trying to fix them. The woman who ran the program, Valerie, made it clear that she did not want her non-profit to be one where people would go in for a few days, do volunteer work, and never return. Our workshops were extensions of bigger programs she was running with the school and the orphanage. Valerie’s method was to build up leaders in a community, and eventually have them help the leaders run the program. This “real-life” lesson is one that I could not have gotten simply hearing about a program in a classroom. I saw these programs in action, how they are organized, and how they were facilitated in the communities, which in turn showed why such programs are beneficial.

What are your career goals or plans? How did this experience impact them?

My career aspiration is to be a lawyer, more specifically one that works with contracts. I believe that one of the most important skills to have, one that will help you succeed regardless of one's chosen path, is to be well-traveled and to have a global perspective. Traveling to different countries helps you to understand where other people’s beliefs come from, and at the same time, they show you how similar everyone else in the world is to each other. It allows people to interact and work better with others. In addition, non-profit work is something that I have always been passionate about. This will most definitely help me later in life when I might be able to assist or create my own non-profit.

"Traveling to different countries shows one where other people's beliefs and actions come from, and at the same time, shows a person how similar everyone else in the world is to each other."

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students? If yes, why?

Yes, this is definitely a program that allows a student to experience something that they would never be able to experience elsewhere. Although the cultural shock is hard at first, it is an experience you could not get in many countries. Furthermore, Valerie created a program that mixed academic information, business advice, and a cultural experience all together. You are never bored, and always on the move, which quite frankly is tiring, but allows you to experience the most you possibly can in the country.

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