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Study abroad in Nyeri, Kenya through Penn State
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Nora Frumento

Nora Frumento

Major: Global and International Studies & Community, Environment, and Development
Minors: Arabic and Spanish

 

Hometown: State College, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about this opportunity originally from a professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences. This is an embedded course, meaning that you study during the semester with the class and travel afterwards. There are many courses like this offered at Penn State and students should talk to professors in their colleges.  For more information on this course, students should contact Janelle Larson because she is the professor in charge of this course. Janelle Larson can provide information about this course and will help students figure out if they want to take the course or not. I encourage students to go to the study abroad office and talk to someone there because they are incredibly helpful and great resources as well.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

This course travels to the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre in Nyeri, Kenya. We work alongside dedicated staff and youth. This course is part of an initiative to develop viable economic and youth development options for a program for street children in Kenya. During the past trip to Kenya, I worked with two other students to develop and deliver two sets of workshops. The first set included helping the youth at the Centre develop their business skills. We were working with both high school students and youth who are interested in starting their own youth enterprises at the CYEC. These workshops focused on interviewing skills, resume building, and discussing the basics of business. In the second set of workshops, we collaborated with staff members at the CYEC and went to the local informal settlement and worked with women in a group. We had two meetings, where we discussed small business, managing money/savings, challenges and obstacles these women face, and other topics they were interested in. While my team focused on these workshops, there were other projects going on at the Centre as well. If anyone is interested in learning more about what the course did this past year there is a blog which details our different projects, days, and experiences: http://cedkenya2014.wordpress.com. Many things were going on while we were at the CYEC that my course was able to be a part of. Having the opportunity to travel back to the CYEC for a third time was incredible because I've had this unique opportunity to watch the kids grow up. The little kids are getting bigger and it's been a real blessing, as a Kenyan would say, to be in their lives even if only for a short periods of time. I feel like the CYEC is a home away from home for me. I have had this amazing opportunity to connect with the staff and youth there and at this point, they feel like family.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I recommend and encourage experiential learning because this course has impacted my academic career, and my life in general, in a variety of ways. When I first took this course I was a sophomore with two minors but no concrete major. Now, I'm starting my final year at Penn State with two majors and two minors. This course has given me the unique opportunity of seeing the things that I've learned about in my courses firsthand. It has challenged me to think in situations I've never been in before and has pushed me to become more confident in myself. This course brings together people of many different majors and backgrounds and it's clear to see that each of our strengths come out while we are abroad. This trip has given me the opportunity to use the skills I've learned throughout my college career and gain new skills along the way as well. This course changed my college career and impacted me academically because before I took, I did not know what I wanted to major in and focus on. After I returned I knew that I wanted to learn more about the things I saw and the things that the professors and other students discussed during the trip. So, this class helped me find my way two my two majors that I am grateful to have found.

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

At the moment, I think the next step for me will be graduate school. I had no idea as a freshman that I would find an area of study that I would want to pursue further but now I know that I want to find a graduate school where I can study international development. There are also various programs that I would like to apply for like Fulbright, Princeton in Africa, and Jet for example. These programs I have learned about primarily from people and professors in this course over the past three years. It's been encouraging to be in a course with people from different disciplines and in different places in their lives because I've seen and had the pleasure of knowing people who are doing so many different things with their lives. Studying alongside graduate students in this course has really instilled in me a want to follow in their footsteps, find a specific area of study, and pursue it. Ultimately, I would like to find a career in which I can continue to travel to the CYEC and be a part of all that is going on there.

These kinds of programs are made for people who want to learn more about the world around them, speak different languages, meet new people, experience different cultures, and have the opportunity to travel.

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

I would most definitely recommend this experience to other liberal arts students and students of other majors as well. This course allows a unique opportunity that I think more students should take advantage of. If it's not this course, I recommend other liberal arts students to find an embedded program that they are interested in and to go for it. Traveling teaches people a lot about themselves and traveling to places so vastly different teaches students about the rest of the world. The College of the Liberal Arts is filled with students who are studying different languages, cultures, history, and worldly topics. These kinds of programs are made for people who want to learn more about the world around them, speak different languages, meet new people, experience different cultures, and have the opportunity to travel. This course has been a fundamental part of my college career and I feel so fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to be in it. I would recommend other students find something like this and pursue it.

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