HBCUs Abroad Presents: Amanda

Meet Amanda Carrington
 Bloomfield, Connecticut
Spelman College, May 2014
BA in Sociology & Anthropology

During her junior year she had the opportunity to study abroad twice. In the summer of 2012 Amanda participated in a study abroad opportunity sponsored by her college. She traveled with a group of peers and two professors to Trinidad in the West Indies. While there Amanda took courses centered around Caribbean Civilizations (history) and Festival Arts (performance arts) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) at St. Augustine. During the fall of 2012 she studied abroad in Kigali, Rwanda for a semester (including a two week excursion to Gulu, Uganda) with the School for International Training. In Kigali her courses were centered on Post Genocide Restoration and Peace Building studies.

What was your motivation for studying abroad?
I have always loved traveling to new places to learn about, and experience, different cultures. During my first year of college I made a vow to myself to take advantage of various study abroad opportunities. Changing my major from psychology to sociology & anthropology gave me the freedom I needed to study abroad. I also received nothing but support from friends, family, and the dedicated staff of the Spelman study abroad office. At that time many of my peers were taking advantage of the study abroad opportunities (including a significant amount of people within my major). This gave me peace of mind as it solidified that I was making a beneficial decision. It also reinforced the fact that I’d chosen to surround myself with motivated, likeminded women. 
Playing the steel pan in festival arts class in Trinidad

What is your favorite memory from study abroad? 
I have many amazing memories from my time in Trinidad and Rwanda. One of my fondest memories of UWI occurred while getting to know other students on campus. Our dorm housed regular UWI students taking summer courses, as well as the university volleyball team who was in training. Soon after meeting them we played several intense rounds of Taboo, which quickly became a tradition. As Taboo is a game of US pop culture references, it gave us the opportunity to share aspects of the US with our new friends. In turn, they insisted on showing us around the city outside of the campus to teach us more about Trinidadian culture. My fondest memories of Kigali mostly center on getting to know my older (host) brother, and hanging out with his friends. I am an only child so suddenly having a brother close to my age was an invaluable experience. He was very friendly and caring, and wanted to show me everything that made Kigali a wonderful place. 
Dinner my friends and I held for our host families
What was the toughest thing about studying abroad?
 I didn’t have too many mentally/emotionally/physically trying times while at UWI. As a Trinidadian-American I was already familiar with the culture—I had also traveled to Trinidad several times before. In addition it was extremely helpful to have family living close by. The hardest thing about my time in Kigali was learning the language. Kinyarwanda is unlike any language I have ever learned. However I had to at least get the basics; figuring out the language helped me to be self-reliant and independent. It also deepened my appreciation of the culture, while reflecting my genuine interest in it.

How has your experience abroad helped your personal development?
Studying abroad renewed my love of learning about the world around me. It also helped solidify my career goals, as well as explore the values I wanted to live my life by.
How has study abroad impacted your global awareness?
Having these experiences helped to broaden my global lens and reject any ethnocentric sentiments. It made me more critical of the biased Western media, and more open to seek knowledge from various sources.
Hand woven bowls from a women’s cooperative in Rwanda

How has study abroad impacted your education and/or career?
Studying abroad piqued my interest in focusing my graduate studies on International Development, with a focus on gender development. It encouraged me to apply for the Peace Corps, which has led me to my current role as a TEL volunteer in Colombia (from 2014-2016). In the future I hope to work in an NGO that focuses on women’s rights and empowerment.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying abroad?
My advice for students thinking about studying abroad would be: do it! Do not let fears of finance stop you from having this wonderful experience. There are a multitude of support networks available if you, or your family cannot afford to pay out of pocket. The opportunity to travel while in college does not come around often. Whenever I share my experience with college graduates, many of them express deep regret over never studying abroad as well. As cliché as it sounds, studying abroad will change your life forever!
Hills from my home in Kigali
How can people contact you for more information?  
“Mi Vida Colombiana”(Peace Corps Colombia Blog): http://amandascolombianlife.blogspot.com/
 Email: ajamilah92@gmail.com 

Thank you Amanda!
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-The Natural Travelista