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Gaining Understanding and Seeing Beauty

Kalamazoo College alumna Britta SeifertNot long ago the editor of Pink Pangea called our attention to an article the blog published by alumna Britta Seifert ’12 when she was a K student. Pink Pangea is designed for and dedicated to women who love to travel. Britta’s piece is titled “My Experience as a Woman in Varanasi, India,” and it’s quite timeless. In it she describes a 12-week period of adjustment during which a sense of being overwhelmed often had her questioning the wisdom of her study abroad program choice. But that period didn’t last, and she was soon convinced that Varanasi was the best of all her options–“I can say without a doubt that I’m glad to be here and wouldn’t have picked anywhere else to spend my college study abroad,” she wrote. What accounts for the change? According to Britta, growth in understanding and perception: “I’ve come to understand the order in the disorder, and see a beauty in the chaos.” Hard to put a value on that kind of outcome.

Britta’s article also chronicles a growing awareness of gender that is both difficult and empowering. The awareness derives from daily living where “the men I encounter don’t really respect me – don’t necessarily consider my opinion valid or my requests legitimate.” Britta responds with a self-assuredness and confidence, evident in actions, that becomes “one of the greatest things I gain from my time here.” Though four years old, the piece is good reading, especially as many sophomores use the current winter break to prepare their study abroad applications. Britta earned her Bachelor’s degree in anthropology and sociology and current serves as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan.