HBCUs Abroad Presents: Imani

Meet Imani Evans
 Trenton, New Jersey
Hampton University, 2015
Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Imani Evans was born in Trenton, NJ.  She was a 2011 graduate of Ewing High School in Ewing, NJ.  Imani is currently a senior at Hampton University where she majors in Communicative Sciences and Disorders.  Upon completion of her undergraduate degree in May of 2015, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and then her Doctorate.  Her career goals include remaining in academia as a professor and conducting research to increase the academic success of culturally and linguistically diverse children in the school setting.  She also plans to one day open her own private practice in the United States and establish centers for special needs children in developing countries.

What was your motivation for studying abroad?  
     I always wanted to travel to Africa, but I didn’t want to just go as a tourist.  I wanted an inside perspective of the culture and customs in Ghana, so I decided to live with a host family and volunteer abroad.  In addition to sight-seeing and traveling the country, I also made meaningful connections and memories through my involvement in the community.

What is your favorite memory from study abroad? 
     I have so many memories from Ghana that it’s hard to pinpoint just one.  I would definitely say that my favorite moments were those spent with the children I volunteered with at the Mampong Demonstration School for the Deaf.  The pure happiness and thankfulness that the children displayed from my presence in their classroom each day gave me a sense of belonging and satisfaction that I have never felt before.  

    What was the toughest thing about studying abroad? 
     The toughest thing would be the culture shock you experience in your first days abroad.  For me it took about a week to get used to all the different sights, sounds, smells, food, and especially the constant attention and stares for being foreign.  However, you will become so emerged in the culture that things that were once shocking become commonplace.  

How has your experience abroad helped your personal development?
     My experience abroad taught me to stop and appreciate, value, and not overlook the little things in life.  The time I spent in Ghana was without cable, no laptop, no cell phone, no running water, and at times no electricity.  However, this was the greatest time of my life. 

How has study abroad impacted your global awareness? 
     When you read about foreign countries in books, see them on television, or hear about them in the news, one’s attention in constantly drawn to the differences between them and us.  Differences and often maximized in the media, and similarities are minimized.  During my time in Ghana, sometimes I couldn’t even believe I was in Africa.  I was so accustomed to seeing poverty, war, and disease in the news.  Although some of these things were true, my expectations were completely turned upside-down.  I have come to see that the human race as a whole, no matter what country you live in, shares way more in common than what separates us.  I think it everyone owes it to themselves to go out and see the world with their own lens.
How has study abroad impacted your education and/or career? 
     After my time in Ghana, my career goals include opening centers for special needs children in developing countries throughout Africa.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying abroad? 
      I would tell them to absolutely, without a doubt, go for it.  It sounds cliché, but you will find your life forever changed.  You learn so much about others, but even more about yourself.  Years later, you will still reminisce about the time you spent abroad.  When talking to my peers, they ask me how I could live for a month without my phone, running water, air conditioning, internet, and electricity.  When I think of all I have gained from just that one month in Ghana, I wonder how could someone not live this way.  Don’t let fear of change or fear of the unknown prevent you doing anything.  For someone thinking of studying abroad, my advice would be to try new things, be open-minded, be patient, meet new people, and make sure to write everything down so you can remember all the memories for years to come!

How can people contact you for more information?  
Email: evansimani93@yahoo.com
Website/Blog: truth-ofthematter.tumblr.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/imani.evans
Instagram: @_havefaith93

Thank you Imani!
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- The Natural Travelista