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    Posted March 16, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Studying in Underrepresented Locations

    As a 2013 Boren Scholarship recipient, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Dakar, Senegal.

    Through all the highs and lows of my time in Senegal, my interactions and relationships with people are what really made my trip memorable. I met people from various nations including Djibouti, France, Gabon, Sudan, DRC, U.S., and Nigeria. I enjoyed long conversations over attaya (a popular Senegalese tea), having griots (artists who tell stories through songs) sing at me during my niece's wedding reception, "discussing" prices of intricate artifacts at various markets, participating in focus groups with secondary school children on their perception of sexual abuse as part of my internship, assisting midwives give polio vaccinations to infants in a rural village, and attempting to learn local dances. Not only did I discover various cultures all housed on Senegalese soil, I also learned many things about myself--my strengths, my weaknesses, and my multi-cultural identity.

    With the new initiatives to raise the number of students studying abroad, I have one question for Mrs. Michelle Obama: Will there be a focus on increasing partnerships with countries so that students will have the option of studying in more varied locations?

    For example, I had originally wanted to study in a small town in the southeast of Nigeria, but due to complications went to a big city in Senegal where there was already a program and support system in place. From a past study abroad in Pau, France, I have learned that some of the most meaningful memories can be made in small, unsuspecting cities. I believe that expanding, not only the number of students going abroad but also the access to smaller cities and towns will have a tremendous impact on the receiving communities as well as to the U.S.
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