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Humans of K: Studying Abroad with Maya Edery

By Mallika Mitra

With gold bangles and earrings, and a pile of books sitting next to her, Maya Edery ’15 met with me to talk about why she sometimes finds herself wanting to eat with her with hands. After studying abroad in Varanasi, India, and then traveling around the country with her mother when the program ended, there were several habits Maya had to ‘unlearn.’

She lived on the campus of a school for pre-K through high school with six other women from K, and would wake up to the sounds of students doing karate and going to play practice, as well as the barks of Menna and Raffie, two dogs that lived in the guesthouse next door.

The program was service learning based, which allowed Maya to teach classes and take classes, simultaneously.

“I taught a class of English,” she said. “I did a class on sexual assault and rape and sexual education.”

The classes Maya took included Globalization and Local Narratives, Hindi, Yoga, Women’s Studies, and Mehndi, an art class.

The mission of the school, Nirman, was “to bring students of all different castes, classes, and religions” together, Maya said.

For their final exam, the K students had to perform a play in Hindi to the entire school, in which Maya played the goddess, Sita.

During the trip abroad, she went on a “crazy, unplanned backpacking adventure” for two weeks of independent travels with Sonia Morales ’15. The girls went to the Himalayas to white water raft, kayak, and camp. They then went to Kerala to look for tigers at a national park.

“We didn’t decide our trip before going,” she said. “We would decide where we were going the next day based on who we met.”

They met a famous singer from New Zealand who traveled with them for three days, swam in the Indian Ocean, stayed in a guesthouse on top of a hill station in Munnar, and went on a jungle trek that resulted in feet covered in leeches.

It was Maya’s “first time traveling in such an unplanned, spontaneous way,” she said.

With her fellow K students, she rode rickshaws, celebrated Indian holidays with students and teachers, and went to the wedding of her student’s older sister where she learned how to properly wear a sari.

Once, Maya and some friends were running late to Mehndi class and bumped into their teacher, who was running late as well, at a café. Their teacher cancelled class, invited them to her birthday party at a Japanese restaurant, and drove them there motorcycles.

“Getting to know our teachers, who were also our friends, was one of the best experiences,” Maya said.

2014 – 15 LT/ET Study Abroad Application Rate

By Clare Lee

Students meeting the College’s and any program-specific eligibility requirements are selected for participation in the study abroad program on the basis of such items as their cumulative grade point average, their grades in the appropriate foreign language (where applicable), the strength of the required essay(s), faculty letters of recommendation, an evaluation of the transcript, and other information provided in their application and their College records. The Center for International Programs may also require applicants to be interviewed. If a student is not admitted into his or her first choice program, the CIP will assist the student in applying to another program to which he or she is eligible and in which there is space available.

Pizza’s Kitchen: Quit Bothering Me About Study Abroad

By Emily Pizza

As a sophomore, you are expected to write tons of essays, chew at your fingernails, and pray you get into a study abroad program. They have seminars set up for learning how to apply, dealing with rejection from a program, and even help you find another that still fits your interests.

We all know the statistic that 87.9 percent (261 out of 297) of Kalamazoo graduates in 2011 had studied abroad during their K experience, but what about the other 12.1 percent?

Well, they are shoved under the rug and forgotten. There are no programs for students who decide not to study abroad, or groups to deal with losing all of your friends for six months. The Center for International Programs (CIP) even pushes us to choose by stating on their website that “If you think study abroad isn’t for you, think again!”

There is a sense of shame that comes from choosing not to study abroad, whether that be for personal reasons or financial. No one talks about what happens to those who choose not to study abroad, and always assume they were too scared to experience a different culture, or too lazy to apply for scholarships.

             Some students simply do not want to study abroad. Some students need to complete graduation requirements and others want to, or need to, stay close to home. Their webmail boxes are filled with e-mails reminding them that they are missing out on the best experience of their lives by not applying. The shame being thrown at these students is why no one on campus talks about not studying abroad.

Not only that, but some people cannot afford to leave the country. In case you haven’t noticed already, studying at K is expensive, and studying in a foreign country is even more so. According to the CIP webpage, they claim that it costs the same to study abroad as it does to stay on campus. However, they do not take into account that it is difficult for students to work enough abroad (as quite a few K students do) to  purchase goods, which are more expensive in certain countries.

Also, not all programs accept Kalamazoo scholarships, so it all has to be paid out-of-pocket, such as the Denmark program, which requires $35,000 upfront.

For example, according to  Deutsche Bank, Australia and Japan are the  most expensive places in the world, and also very popular study abroad locations. This survey also ranks America as the cheapest.

The number of students choosing to study abroad has been declining, and it’s about time that the school started helping students keep busy while on campus for a third year by providing resources to find research opportunities or internships, instead of focusing on what they are missing out on.

If Kalamazoo College truly does want us to earn “More in Four,” the administration should better support those of us who choose stay on campus for all Four.

No Direction Home: CIP Lacks Communication with Kalamazoo College Students During Kenya’s Biggest Terrorist Attack Since 1998

By Colin Smith, Contributor

Shortly after 12:00 pm, Andrea “Buffy” Satchwell ’15 sat in a public van on her way to downtown Nairobi, Kenya, until it stopped across Westgate Mall. As local Kenyans disputed in Kiswahili, an older gentleman finally informed her, “there’s been a robbery.”

On Saturday, September 21, 2013 after police arrived 30 minutes later, they realized the Somalia-based terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, attacked Westgate. Cited as a retaliation for Kenya’s invasion of Somalia in October 2011, the terrorist group hopes to push Kenyan forces out of their former territories by moving the focus to Kenya.

During the mall’s four day assault, Kalamazoo College students were isolated at their host-family’s homes, which are scattered across the city’s metro region. Nicole Caddow ’15 only lived a few streets away from Westgate Mall and she would go to sleep hearing gunshots and helicopters.

As we students were given orders to not leave home, we occupied our time with the Kenyan media which displayed corpses and blood on the mall’s steps. As the cameras rolled, the television networks reported at least 72 people were killed.

After a full 24 hours, Hannah Heenan ’15 called the Center of International Programs (CIP) to know their plan of action, but with no answer she left a voicemail. When she called back she was greeted with the question, “So are you in Senegal?”

When mentioning the terrorist attack, the CIP staff member responded, “Oh, I haven’t checked the news yet, it’s early.”

Despite it being the largest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 US Embassy bombing, we expected communication, or at least the acknowledgement of the attack.

The study abroad program directors from the University of Nairobi eased our anxieties while they scrambled to see if their loved ones were okay. Given their detached position from the crisis and their duty to follow news in given study abroad regions, we expected the CIP to be informed of the attack the day it happened.

Failing our expectations, the CIP’s only responded until resuming its business day, Monday, September 23, which was the third day of the siege.

All our of claims were immediately dismissed as emotional. The lack of respect and contact contributed to the already high anxieties, ultimately prompting three students to leave the program.

After the threat of being sued by at least one parent, Provost Michael McDonald intervened and personally apologized. Soon afterwards Dr. Joe Brockington decided our parents would receive weekly updates, compensating for this lack of communication.

Although the CIP would acknowledge our stress, they lacked the comprehension of what we were experiencing. When Heenan replied with a page long e-mail regarding the CIP’s handling of the situation, she was responded with one sentence asking if she would like to see a counselor.

Please warmly welcome our friends back to campus.

“It’s a world problem”: Terrorist Attacks in Kenya Affect K

By Olivia Nalguya, Contributor

Kalamazoo College Juniors studying abroad in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Heenan)

September 21, 2013 strayed far from merriment in one of the most affluent and festive cities in East Africa.  This day marked the beginning of a 4-day upheaval in Westgate Mall situated in the heart of Nairobi, where a terrorist group idenitified as Al Shabaab went on a shooting spree and held hostages. According to Daily Nation, a local newspaper in Kenya, 67 people were killed and 61 are missing.

Kenya is one of the countries that have contributed troops to the African Union against Al Shabaab in Somalia, thus the attack was perceived as retribution.

Shortly after they invaded Westgate Mall, Al Shabaab tweeted: “The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders.”

Kalamazoo College Professor of English Babli Sinha commented, “They seem to be more about power and sadistic violence than about the religion.”

There are K students currently studying abroad at the University of Nairobi. The Center for International Programs (CIP) has confirmed that all of them are safe and several steps have been taken to maintain their safety.

“Our first priority when an event like this happens is we want to first assure the physical safety of our students so we work closely with our onsite staff,” said Dr. Margaret Wiedenhoeft CIP Associate Director.

Students were given the choice of continuing the program or coming back to K for fall quarter. President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran added, “The first issue was our own students.”

President Wilson-Oyelaran further indicated that when such events occur, “People want everything to be clear and it can’t be clear.” She also advised that it would be apt for the College to gather as a community to “talk about what this means.”

Currently, K sophomores are thinking about applying for study abroad programs, including Kenya. It is imperative that students are not discouraged from the program just because of the incident. Ms. Wiedenhoeft advised that students thinking of the program should take time to familiarize themselves with the region to better understand the context of the event.

Dalmas Odira, a visiting-international student from Kenya cautiously remarked, “Terrorism is a world problem so people should not confine it to Kenya.”