College students forgo crappy summer jobs to serve abroad

College students tired of the low-level, short-term retail or temporary office jobs they frequently hold during the summer are increasingly looking abroad for opportunities to serve. Today I want to introduce you to the blogs of a few young women who are working and studying abroad this summer, as their blogs are already quite engaging.

First up is Back to the Motherland: Summer in Rwanda, authored by Nadine N. Baranshamaje. Baranshamaje was born in Burundi, raised in Maryland, and will be a junior this fall at Grinnell College in Iowa, where she is a Posse Scholar and will likely double major in Spanish and Political Science. Definitely check out her story of how she came to be in Rwanda this summer as well as what she's packing and how she's reacquainting herself with Rwandan and Burundian culture.

Kelly Jo of Nomads and Housewives alerts us to an American University student, Liz Bayer, who is undertaking a service learning project at the Tulsi Chanrai Mission for Vision eye clinic in Nigeria. Bayer is keeping her own blog, Not All Who Wander Are Lost, about her experiences in Nigeria. Bayer recently expressed dismay that some of her fellow students haven't bothered to learn the local languages:

I've been very surprised by some of the [American University of Nigeria] students' complete lack of interest in learning any Hausa, which is the main language used in the area, and is spoken widely throughout Northern Nigeria and is a sort of lingua franca in Muslim West Africa. I've been told a number of times that my very limited Hausa (what's written above is the extent of it), is still more than many AUN students know. Which I just find strange, but, also, being a foreigner, I do not have any sort of stake in the ethnic, geographic, or religious cleavages that exist here. I just like learning more languages, and I like being able to (sort of) communicate with the patients and my co-workers in their own languages. I'll keep you posted on my Hausa progress, and I'll let you know if I learn any Fulani, which I probably will, as many of the Hospital's patients are Fulani.

Jordan of Mwili wa Kristu is participating in the International Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame. Jordan is in Kitete, Tanzania, and writes of the summer's service plans:

The school is primarily a vocational school for students who could not pass the national tests to move on to secondary school. Boys learn carpentry and masonry skills. The girls are taught how to tailor, weave, and knit. Charlie and I were basically given the freedom to plan what will be taught from now until the students’ holiday at the end of June. We will be teaching English, computer skills, and mathematics. Starting on Monday morning at 8:00am, I will be teaching two classes totally 4.5 hours of instruction each day. I am basically entering these classes blind. We have been given little or no information about where the students are in each course. The struggle for the first week will be assessing what the students already know so that we can begin new material. Resources are few. I have been given a couple instruction manuals, a few short story books (there aren’t enough books for each student), one notebook, one pencil, two blue pens, and one red pen. The task ahead is daunting, but I have always wanted to play teacher.

Two more blogs to keep an eye on, both by students at IUPUI: Cris's blog about Kenya and Meghan's blog about Costa Rica. Both women will begin blogging their experiences in July.

Finally, there's one more blog I want to highlight, even though it's by an entering high school senior. Merry is blogging One Year Abroad in China. She wants to be a Chinese-language teacher, and she qualified for a merit scholarship for an academic year in a Mandarin Chinese program. Her blog is just starting up, but it's clear Merry is articulate and bright, so One Year Abroad in China may be one to add to your feed reader.

Did you study or do service abroad? What advice would you give to these young women as they embark on their adventures?

Leslie Madsen-Brooks develops learning experiences for K-12, university, and museum clients. She blogs at The Clutter Museum, Museum Blogging, and The Multicultural Toybox.

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