I consciously chose to pursue international educational opportunities. Operating from a cultural humility and social justice worldview, I engaged in events, activities, and daily interactions to increase my knowledge, skills, and social work competence. I critically analyzed social institutions, history, environmental degradation, and poverty. While abroad as well as upon returning to the USA I reflected on my power and privilege. What role do I play in the hardships I witnessed? Is it "enough" to be a socially conscious consumer? I have the opportunity and financial resources to study abroad. What does this mean? What is my role in international social justice solutions?
My 1st experience abroad was in Bogota, Colombia in July 2010.
- Alongside local Michigan church members and leadership, our mission team worked with local churches to strengthen community outreach and engagement efforts.
- My key learning experience during this trip was reflecting on the intent vs. impact of evangelical mission trips, white privilege, and voluntourism.
My 2nd international experience was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
in January 2012.
- I explored the social institutions of family, government, economics, education, religion, and human rights.
- My key learning experience in Cambodia was visiting various grassroots social justice initiatives as well as communicating across languages and cultural.
My 3rd experience overseas was in Antigua, Guatemala
from January 2013 to May 2013.
- I completed a social work internship at a multi-national NGO, studied the Spanish language, and explored social institutions.
- I assisted in creating a pilot website which features updated information, is user friendly, and easy to maintain. View the website at http://anaexample.weebly.com.
- My key learning experience in Guatemala was observing situationally and culturally specific social service/welfare institutions.
- For more reflections during this study abroad experience, read my blog at katieinantigua.blogspot.com.
My experiences in Colombia, Cambodia, & Guatemala remain invaluable. I stretched my comfort zone and learned to navigate new cultures/spaces. My overall key learning experience was understanding and practicing cultural humility; a vital skill I will continue to develop and employ in all aspects of life.