HBCU's Abroad Presents: Chenoa
Meet Chenoa Murray
Paine College – 2010
Morehouse School of Medicine – 2015
B.S. Biology, M.P.H.
As a proud graduate of two HBCUs, Paine College and Morehouse School of Medicine, hARTherapy lives with arms wide open to new experiences that the world has to offer. As a current HIV/AIDS Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa, she strives daily to inspire others to live their dreams, especially her fellow sun-kissed brothers and sisters! As a humanitarian, writer, vocalist, and lover of all things chocolate, hARTherapy can be found wherever wanderlusting hearts roam in the universe or in her pajamas laughing at an old Fresh Prince of Belair episode.
What was your motivation for studying abroad?
I grew up on Army posts for half of my life. My parents were always encouraging me to see the world and explore it with arms wide open. Not only that, I have always felt a connection to cultures and how remarkably similar countries can be despite differences on the surface. I am a free-spirit on a never-ending quest for knowledge and an endless passion for interacting with people I can learn from!
AT THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER
Taking a moment to reflect on the lives that have been lost here at the U.S.-Mexico border.
What is your favorite memory from study abroad?
Although there are too many to list here, I’ll list one memory that cracked me up.
After kayaking for the first time in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Nicoya, Costa Rica I strolled over to a bench to catch my breath. I noticed three FINE, surfer-type guys over there so I figured, hey, why not? As I got closer, I saw that one was Black, one was White, and the other was Asian. I noticed that each one had a beautiful head of locs and *at least* 10 abs, I swear. The smoking reefer and dancing to dope Reggae music threw me for a loop. It threw me off even more when I realized that they were all actually Costa Ricans (‘Ticos’) and Spanish was their first language. The confusion was oh so real and my mind went blank when they started to talk to me because I was close-minded and just couldn’t process what I was seeing. This was when I truly fell in love with traveling; nowhere in America had I ever experienced culture like this before!
TRADITIONAL ZULU CELEBRATION
KwaZulu-Natal South Africa)
I met some Zulu royalty at the celebration too!
What was the toughest thing about study abroad?
Ignoring the noise.
It’s not the noise from nay-sayers, nor the racket from people who try to persuade you to just stay home where it’s safe, and it’s certainly not the clatter you experience in your brain when you try to figure out how in THE WORLD you are going to finance such an endeavor. No. The toughest thing about studying abroad is ignoring all of the “Are you crazy?”, “What are you going to do when you get back?”, and “How will this help pay your student loans?” type questions in your own head. My biggest enemy stood before me in the mirror as I made such decisions to do it anyway.
TRADITIONAL ZULU CELEBRATION
Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa)
I participated in the celebration of past Zulu warriors who fearlessly defended Zululand.
How has your experience abroad helped your personal development?
I’ve been forced to face fears I never thought I would conquer: rats and scorpions, new languages and food poisoning, racism and bigotry. Although I could have experienced this personal development on American soil, experiencing them alone and having to rely completely on myself has compelled me to have a heightened sense of self and where I stand on issues great and small.
HIV PREVENTION CLASS (Fall 2015, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
Here we were discussing ways to improve self-esteem so that we don't put ourselves at risk for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
How has study abroad impacted your global awareness?
“It is not about you”- these are the words I constantly heard a mentor of mine drill in my head since I was 13 years old. Living in other countries has proven this indeed to be true. When you take a walk in other people’s shoes, you find less and less to complain about.
Additionally, I was under the false pretense that I was appreciative of the life I had before my travels, but I was only fooling myself. Studying abroad has made me all the more appreciative of what I have at home in Atlanta honestly.
HOSPITAL GENERAL NOGALES
Here I was getting a better understanding of Mexico's Healthcare System by touring one of its most utilized health facilities at the border.
How has study abroad impacted your education and/or career?
Studying abroad has given me the confidence to serve as a Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Volunteer in South Africa currently. I am on a career path that allows for frequent travel and constant community connections so studying abroad has forced me to develop the skills to do this fearlessly (well, almost!).
TRADITIONAL ZULU WEDDING SHENANIGANS (Fall 2015,KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
My first experience at a Zulu wedding was fabulous!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying abroad?
You’re wasting time reading about me, I want to read about YOU!!! Surround yourself with people who are expert travelers, join travel groups and pour over fabulous blogs. Most importantly, prove EVERYONE wrong who says you can’t do it; there’s no feeling like it!
AT THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER
Viewing America from the hills of Nogales, Mexico.
How can people contact you for more information?:
Thank you Chenoa!
Want to represent your HBCU with an interview? I’m still looking for lots of stories!
- The Natural Travelista