Experience the World
Sociology majors and minors have spent time in all parts of the world. The following are testimonies on the global perspectives they have gained through their travel and study abroad experiences.
Cate Irvin, '05, Kenya
"After graduation from Emmanuel College, I did a little traveling and eventually settled in as a counselor in an HIV and Family Planning clinic in Western Massachusetts. After about nine months, I decided to apply the training and experience I had gained at the clinic to do HIV testing and counseling in Nairobi, Kenya. Through books and the internet, I found a program that looked promising. Unfortunately, the program I chose turned out to be expensive and disorganized. After several frustrating months, I struck out on my own and found an orphanage about 45 minutes outside of Nairobi in the small village of Embulbul.
Through my contacts at the orphanage, I was able to spend time not only assisting in the care of orphaned and displaced children, but I was also able to work at the Voluntary Testing and Counseling Centre for HIV testing. This organization ran monthly medical camps. As part of the HIV Centre I traveled to the rural areas, mostly through sections of Massailand. We brought a staff of HIV counselors, a nurse, HIV test kits, and some basic medicines. We were able to provide a rudimentary level of medical treatment to areas that had never had access to Western style medical care.
I was truly inspired by the people with whom I worked in Kenya. My goal is to return to Kenya and continue the work that I began. I hope to obtain a degree in International Public Health, and am currently in the process of starting my own non-profit to continue where I left off."
Marie Renee Gagnon, '09, Rabat, Morocco (Spring 2008)
"International and religious studies have always been of great interest to me throughout my education. During spring of my junior year, I studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco. While boarding with a Moroccan family and learning Arabic, I studied social, religious and political topics that were impacting the country. Qualitative research skills, gained from the sociology department, prepared me for the field research, which I considered to be the most valuable part of the program. Using qualitative research methods, I traveled to a small village in the Sahara to conduct my study on the social impact of tourism within the community of Hassi Labiad. Overall, my cross-cultural experience in Morocco gave me skills to adapt and learn from any experience."
Lauren Dupuis, '10, Salamanca, Spain (Fall 2008)
"In the fall semester of 2008, I had the wonderful opportunity of studying in Salamanca, Spain. Studying abroad was always something I wanted to do, but also something I was very apprehensive about. I knew it would be hard to be away from my family, Emmanuel College, and the city of Boston for a whole semester. Yet looking back on the experience as a whole, it was one of the best choices I could have made. It helped me grow intellectually, and I came back a stronger person than I was before I left. Assimilating to a foreign culture is hard and at times exhausting. You are thrown into a different world where the sights, sounds, and smells are different from that of your native country. Nonetheless, the tedious days of translation and adapting to Spaniards way of life paid off. At the end of my four months abroad I was truly able to call Salamanca, Spain my home away from home."
Lauren Harris, '09, Institut Catholique de Paris (Spring 2009)
"For the second semester of my junior year, I was able to study abroad in Paris, France. For four months, I lived with a Parisian family, allowing me to learn about the interactions between and the behaviors of the French, and attended classes at a local university, The Institut Catholique de Paris, allowing me to more formally study French institutions. Being in the middle of a French family's life illustrated the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between French and American behaviors and norms. Besides greatly improving my French language skills, the semester taught me a lot about France, how it works, and why it is so different and misunderstood. By studying French politics, I learned the meanings and purpose of laws, and how they influenced interactions and ideas, such as those regarding immigration. Focusing on the French education and work system taught me a lot about how people are connected to the state and the creation of class and status. Each new discussion revealed something about the people of France and what it meant for the government, the military, the schools, and the families to be French.
Studying abroad has been an amazing experience. It has influenced my outlook on the world and fueled my interest in comparative sociology. I have been able to see some of the most historic and significant monuments in Europe, but I have also had the opportunity to see how different structures work, how people interact in society. Studying abroad has absolutely been the best decision I could have made and has infinitely positive impact on my sociology studies."
Byron Glaus, '10, The University of Sussex in Brighton, England (Spring 2009)
"Summing up my experience abroad is no easy task. I have seen and experienced so many wonderful things it is hard to compress it all into a paragraph but I will do my best. England itself has been far greater than I could have ever imagined in both the social and educational aspects. I have used my time here to really focus on the similarities and differences between the American way of life and the British. Some days I find myself in awe at how dissimilar our cultures really are, even in the subtleties like communicating and socializing. Other days, I get a sense of comradery and friendship that feels much stronger than any other I have experienced before. This experience alone has changed me in a way I never thought possible. It has helped me grow significantly in academics, giving me a new approach to social research and study habits, which I will take with me and continue to use when I return home. Although this paragraph barely skims the surface of what I have had the pleasure of experiencing while abroad, I hope that it expresses to whomever reads this that I am a truly blessed individual to be where I am at this moment in time. My time abroad is an achievement and a success that I will carry with me always."
Susanna L. Derby, '10, the University of Cape Town, South Africa (Spring 2009)
"South Africa has been a safarian adventure! Currently I am studying at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Cape Town is a vibrant city and a wonderful city to live in. Here I am taking a Social and Economic Development Class, Poverty and Globalization, History, and Religion Conflict and Violence. Although classes are rigorous, it is worth the time and energy. In addition to my studies, because everyone knows you don't only study while abroad, I've been having a grand old time experiencing South Africa. Between the different suburbs of Cape Town, going to Braai's or barbeques, visiting Townships and experiencing the current 2009 Elections this past week. I am enjoying the many cultural fruits of South Africa.
Cape Town is beautiful, and in addition to the every day I've had the opportunity to go to the beaches: Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, skydiving, climbing mountains and volunteering with a youth cultural arts program in a township called Mannenberg. After the term ends, I will be interning at a non-profit called Global Development for Peace and Leadership, that works with youth from all over Cape Town in building peace. Overall, my experience thus far has been uplifting and worthwhile. Many in the west do not understand or have preconceptions of Africa; here it is very much like we know, urbanized, modernized, and up to date in technology and infrastructure, but you won't meet the same kinds of people, hence South Africa's Rainbow Nation."