Don’t Be a Benchwarmer: Lessons in Engaging with Community Abroad

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Hi Education Abroad go-ers, Enkompass visitors!

Depending on the nature of your program you will meet several people, perhaps with names that you struggle to pronounce and others that you dub with a nickname to help trigger your memory about that ridiculous taxi ride back to your guesthouse. Nevertheless, this is not an opportunity you want to bench. The Education Abroad at UK portfolio includes five different program types that vary in levels of on-site support and cultural immersion.

The most rewarding experience abroad is gaining an understanding of the people who live there. I studied in South Africa with Dr. Barnes who is Director for the School of Journalism and Telecommunications and Interim Assistant Provost for Internationalization at the University of Kentucky. She enhanced our program by scheduling meetings with agencies and working closely with Dr. Alan Jansen who is the programs on-site educator for Arcadia University. Both professors were advocates for meeting locals outside of the professionals in the public relations, creative and advertising industry that we were destined to meet. Below is an abridged version of different folks I met abroad. My hope is that you take initiative to forge friendships while abroad too. I urge you, don’t be a benchwarmer.

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You will meet people who have made history. This is Jomo. He was our tour guide at Robben Island and former prisoner. Jomo was imprisoned on Robben Island because he was involved in political protests during his teens. He lived on the island for five years. For more, click here:

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The District Six Museum  was unlike anyplace I visited during my time in South Africa was. This fine gentleman—and quite the ladies man—is Noor. Noor has also authored his own book that you can find here:

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This is Zukile and Loretta Duma. This couple hosted my roommates and I one weekend during our stay in South Africa. Fortunately for us, it was Africa Day celebration at their church. My sweet, sweet mama took the prize at the best outfit in my book. Together they radiated true pride for their community in Gugulethu. Sunday morning’s church service was a blast! Read more about J L Zwane:

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It is very possible that you will meet someone who irrevocably changes your perspective about the country.  This is Colleen. I could never have enough words to describe her here, so come talk to me!I am in the Education Abroad Resource Center (Bradley Hall 315) every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 P.M.-3 P.M.

Since I have established such rapport… for more photos you are cordially invited to visit my personal blog, Mermaid en Route. NOW!

Until Next Time,