Kakamega State Of Mind
College: College of Arts and Sciences
Majors: International Studies
When I got the email saying that I had been accepted as a summer intern for the Foundation for Sustainable Development’s program in Kenya, I knew that I was about to embark on an unique and life altering experience, I did not however, realize the extent of it. After months of waiting in the US and then 24 hours of airplanes and connecting flights, I finally made it to Kakamega, a small developing town in the Western Province of Kenya. This is where I would meet 11 other interns who, like myself, wanted to make a difference in the world. We spent 1 week together learning about the region, the local language of Swahili, the culture, and about each other, then it was time to be separated off into our individual families and organizations!
The house I was to live in was little more than a shack but it became home quickly, thanks to the amazing family that I was placed with. It was a husband, wife, and their 4 year old son, Jerome, whom after no time I would know as my mom, dad, and little brother. My mom and I would cook over the fire after I made the 45 minute muddy trek home from work every night. We would all eat as a family, I would take my bucket shower, and if we were lucky enough to have power that night, we would all watch our favorite syndicated soap opera from Mexico before retiring to bed. This routine has been something that I have grown to miss most.
The transition into my job was a little tougher than expected; seeing development from the ground up can be extremely difficult. Since my interests and expertise revolve around women’s empowerment, I was placed with an organization that focused on such. During my time there I developed materials and delivered a workshop on the key issues facing the women of Kakamega. I presented them to 11 female leaders from various parts of the community that I had identified through my research. These women then took the information back to other women and taught them in return. After monitoring and evaluating the progress of this project, I could notice an overwhelming increase in morale and determination in these women since our first few meetings. They wanted to learn more, know about their rights, continue to have meetings, teach others, and empower themselves in hopes to better the future for the community that they loved. We had made a difference!
I had the best internship ever because it allowed me to see the world from an entirely different perspective, to meet new people, learn so much from them, and take more self-initiative than I thought that I was capable of. I can now say, with more certainty than ever, that I know what I want to do with my life and career path. I owe this realization to the experience I had doing a summer internship.
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